wikiHow to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

Having Christmas on a budget isn't always easy but there are things you can do to ease the financial burden and still enjoy Christmas without cutting down on quality. Follow the suggested steps here and ensure that your Christmas is a time for giving as much has you have rather than what you don't have.


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    Set a Christmas budget in advance. Before the frenzy of Christmas time descends, work out how much you're able and prepared to spend on Christmas festivities, gifts, and catering. The amount will depend on how much you've already saved, how much you can set aside from current funds, and how much you can spare in the weeks leading up to Christmas. If you start early enough, you'll have more leeway to save a bit more.
    • Work out how much you want to spend on people for presents and include decorations, food, and whatever else you think you will need.
    • Stick to your budget – it's the indicator of what you can and cannot afford.
    • Consider starting a budget straight after Christmas for future years. Start saving early, put money into a savings account each month or week and stick to it. Doing this will give you a lump sum to spend in December rather than scraping together money. Budget well – this should include food, decorations, presents and anything else you may buy at Christmas.
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    Talk to family about the costs and gifts. Sit down and make decisions about limits on gifts. This is especially important in large families where the costs of buying a gift for every member of the family can soon add up. Seek agreement that you'll only spend so much per person.
    • If you're really strapped, a decision to only give gifts to the children can sometimes ease budget constraints.
    • One way to spend less on presents is to have each family member bring one present and then to Play the "Goofy Gift Exchange" Christmas Game or Play Santa's Present.
    • Remind everyone that thoughtfully chosen gifts are more important than expensive ones.
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    Hold a "catch-up" Christmas. If your family overdid the spending last Christmas and your budget is still really stretched, consider not spending for one Christmas. One non-spending Christmas will ensure that your budget catches up. There are still a lot of things you can do to celebrate Christmas without spending money:
    • Make a nice meal, not an expensive one. Look at old cookbook recipes for thrifty Christmas cooking.
    • Make homemade gifts from recycled and inexpensive items.
    • Don't buy any new decorations and either use a live tree in a planter from your garden, or an artificial tree kept in your storage.
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    Take advantage of sales during the year. Sales closer to Christmas can be worth marking on your calendar, such as end-of-summer sales, sales after Thanksgiving, etc.
    • Take advantage of the post-Christmas sales to start buying gifts, cards, wrapping paper, decorations, tableware, etc., for next Christmas. Be sure to put these somewhere that they're easier to find and use when Christmas comes around.
    • Keep a list of whose gifts you've already purchased, so that you don't double up on gifts.
    • Make your own labels. Printable gift labels on the internet or making you own and printing them off can save pounds or dollars on gift tags.
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    Make your own Christmas gifts. Use the skills you're best at, such as knitting, crocheting, woodwork, sewing, decoupage, putting together a basket, cooking, etc. A small selection of ideas:
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    Make your own Christmas decorations. There are many nifty Christmas decorations that can be made from items already in the home. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
    • Make Christmas ornaments from dough; or
    • Make a small Christmas penguin ornament.
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    Cut out unnecessary items. There are a lot of items that aren't needed and are unnecessary waste at Christmas time. Save your money and finite resources by not including them in your Christmas celebrations. Examples include:
    • Ribbons, bows, fancy tape, stickers, etc., are usually tossed away.
    • Plastic tablecloths with Christmas designs. Either use plain colored tablecloths from your linen cupboard, or go without.
    • Don't spend massive amounts of money on outside lights, keep it to a minimum and inside lights should be left off at all times when no-one is in the room, this saves on energy bills.
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    Get everyone to pitch in with both resources and effort. If there are people coming to your house for Christmas dinner, assign them tasks to help out. At the very least, ask them if they want to bring anything; this takes pressure off you and generally people do want to bring something and contribute in meaningful ways.
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    Store your Christmas decorations well after use. This will mean that there is no need to replace them year after year. If you look after your decorations, they will look after you!
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    Buy an artificial Christmas tree (preferably in the sales) and look after it. A real tree costs money every year, both in terms of purchasing it and fuel needed to collect it. An artificial tree is a one-off cost. An artificial pre-lit tree can also save money in lights and if one bulb goes, the others will carry on working, obviously depending on which tree.


  • Make gift tags in the same way as making the cards with scraps of card, paper, stickers, and glitter.
  • Consider looking in thrift stores and secondhand stores for gift ideas. Many items are still brand new, in their original packaging! And other items might provide you with inspiration for reusing and turning into new gifts using your sewing, gluing, hammering, etc., skills.
  • Use old wrapping paper scraps to stick onto home-made cards.


  • Be careful that you don't spend more on making items than buying them, weighing everything up is vital.

Things You'll Need

  • Recycled items
  • A special storage space for gifts purchased at sales
  • Thrifty Christmas recipes

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