Christmas is just weeks away and for families struggling to make ends meet, it will be a real financial challenge to make this Christmas as merry as it previously was. Here are some practical suggestions to celebrate the season as frugally as possible but with just as much joy.
Set a Christmas Budget
It’s important to set a Christmas budget and stick to it. Families should decide just how much they are prepared to spend on gifts, food, drinks, decorative ornaments and travel. Budgets work best when they are planned much earlier, allowing shoppers to explore the markets for items needed without being rushed.
Be Selective when Buying Gifts
List the people that will be the recipients of Christmas gifts. Limit them to only very closed family members and friends. Passing acquaintances can be omitted. Choose gifts that are inexpensive but practical. Books, CDs, DVDs, small kitchen gadgets and DIY tools are good choices. Setting limits on the prices of gifts can help reduce spending too.
The Internet provides a fantastic avenue for bargain shoppers. Many websites allow shoppers to browse, get gift ideas, compare prices and buy online. Some great websites include Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Bizrate.com and e-Bay. Buying online saves money and saves shoppers the trouble of being stuck in crowded shopping malls.
Make Own Christmas Gifts
One of the best ways to spend less at Christmas is to give handmade Christmas presents. Plus, recipients tend to cherish such gifts more as these gifts tend to make them feel special. Great handmade gifts include paintings, sculptors, knitted sweaters and gift baskets filled with cookies and other goodies. It does take a bit of planning and some time to create handmade gifts. So plan ahead.
Not Exchanging Gifts
This may be a rather drastic approach to reduce Christmas spending but it is absolutely practical and understandable given the current financial crisis. However, be sure to talk about this with family members and friends first. Explain why such an idea is considered and try to do it diplomatically. Most people will be receptive to this suggestion if a good reason is offered. Gift-giving can be limited to children if this idea is not too appealing.
Share Costs of Entertainment
Instead of forking out everything when hosting a party during this festive season, why not split the costs? Ask close family members attending the party to bring some food and beverages along with them. Work out about who brings what so that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Sharing, after all, reflects the true spirit of Christmas.
Almost everyone has Internet connections and email addresses these days. Why not send e-cards instead of traditional Christmas cards? This saves money, time and helps reduce paper wastage. Just go to the Google website and key in “free e-cards” in the search box and you’ll find lots of choices.
Start Planning for Next Year
Those who find themselves strapped for cash at every Christmas may want to consider the following suggestions:
- Buy all year round whenever there are great sales and fantastic bargains. Keep these best-buy items for the next Christmas.
- Buy right after Christmas as many stores will try to clear their Christmas items at much reduced prices. Again, keep these for the following year.
- Set up a separate savings account and add to it throughout the year just for Christmas. Through this approach, there will be some fund waiting just before Christmas.
With some planning and adjustments, families can spend less at Christmas. Creating a Christmas budget, buying gifts only for close family and friends, buying online, making homemade presents, not exchanging gifts, sharing the costs of entertainment, sending e-cards instead of paper Christmas cards and planning ahead for the following Christmas are just some ideas that families can consider.