I am excited for Christmas this year (beyond what should be allowed) but Christmas is more expensive than I like to admit. Usually, I close my eyes, hold my nose, and go in without reservations, planning to make up for it in January. Christmas spending becomes my wallet’s equivalent of putting on those few extra pounds then having to slave away at the elliptical and eat nothing but peas in January. Not fun.
Can it be done differently? I am going to try.
Here are some little tips I am following this year to save some money this Christmas:
1. Don’t shop too early.
When I shop early, I forget what I bought and end up panicking that I didn’t buy enough. Or I simply love nights spent under twinkling lights, Michael Buble wailing holiday songs over the PA, prancing through heavily discounted racks that I go out again…and again. So this year, I am taking my time. I am being deliberate. I am going to go out as much as I want but wait to buy it all.
2. Do take the kids to Santa early.
Lock it in. We all know that Santa asks aren’t official until their hot little mouths excitedly whisper the wishes directly into the Big Man’s ear. Until that happens, my kids change their minds every five minutes. All over the place. I can’t hit a sale or even competitively shop because I don’t know what the ultimate outcome is going to be. So we go see Santa early. We lock that in.
3. Skip the Christmas cards or go digital.
This is my most controversial idea. Part of the love of the holidays is getting red and green cards in the mail with all those kids’ faces. But cards can be HUNDREDS of dollars. No matter how much I DIY, use coupons, and get out our camera timer on its tripod, it is still a couple of hundred. Plus, be like the Lorax and think of the trees. Today, with email and social media, there are plenty of opportunities to send gorgeous photos and updates out to far flung friends and family. Provide them a printable version if they want to take advantage of that and hang your family up…your family picture that is.
4. Write down every single expense.
Every single one, friends! Every stocking stuffer, advent calendar, wreath, anything bought specifically and only for Christmas. I started Bullet Journaling (more on that later) so I always have my list on me. I write it in a long, painful column. I don’t even have to add it up for it too be effective. Just seeing all those lines and dollar signs makes me tread more carefully.
5. Not buy a single new Christmas decoration.
This one didn’t work out as planned since our tree topper was dead. We pulled it out of storage and ceremoniously topped the tree to nothing but sad children. But other than that, no more cute trinkets and little reindeer doing acrobatics. Not a single coffee mug or holiday towel. I know Target entices, but is it really necessary? My house will be the most spirited on the block if I am there with my family making lots of loud, messy Christmas memories, not if I have the most beautiful Pottery Barn-decked tree. So I vow to stop buying Christmas and start living it.
Some people operate well on a budget for Christmas, but I don’t. I have a general idea of how much per person we want to spend, but if gifts are a little more or a little less yet still meaningful and the perfect thing, I do it.
We also still make room in our Christmas finances every year to be charitable. We participate in our church’s angel tree, I always buy at least one book for the Barnes and Noble book drive, and whatever else seems right that year.
As an aside, we have also gotten into the habit of celebrating the Advent season, or the Christmas countdown, with events more than things. But this can be hard as holiday events can sometimes cost a pretty penny. We have learned through the years to splurge on one or two festivities and then find free town celebrations to add in…or simply drive around and look at lights.
Be creative to celebrate!
So here is to Christmas and the yule log burning bright!