Monday, 26 November 2012

Frugal Christmas ideas

When you have a family of six, and a limited budget, Christmas can be a very overwhelming time of year. Over the past few years, we have managed to create some lovely family rituals to celebrate the festivities, but in a way that doesn't break the budget.

Here are some frugal Christmas options for you to consider (apart from the 'make your own gifts' mantra), along with the eco-friendly Christmas ideas I posted about last week:

Gift wrapping
You can try using different wrapping for each person (saves having to buy or make gift tags). We use recycled paintings from daycare, newspaper, old craft paper and re-used Christmas paper from earlier years.

Advent calendar action
Make your own Advent Calendar - use 'experiences' rather than gifts for each day. Tie the experiences in with your Christmas plan eg. Christmas tree goes up on the first weekend in December; looking at Christmas lights happens on a Thursday after Little As training etc. There are so many lovely people sharing their ideas (such as this gorgeous one from Little Eco Footprints)

Lunchbox festivities
Bake Christmas themed cakes/biscuits for the children's lunchboxes and afternoon teas. It is all in the colour selection and presentation of course. Just a little something special in the usual weekly routine. You can find some great ideas here.

Christmas cards
Go digital with your Christmas cards. I know there is nothing nicer than receiving real cards via snail mail, but Christmas cards are an expensive proposition. Of course you can reduce the cost by making your own but you still have to post them all. I think the e-card is the way to go; as long as you don't do the group email thing. Tacky!

Christmas decorations
Hand make your tree decorations (pre-schoolers specialise in this). A little bit of nature looks fantastic eg. a leaf bunting for tinsel or you can go the food option (popcorn strung has apparently been a staple in frugal circles for generations). Some lovely children's paintings with a Christmas theme around the place make for a lovely personal touch too. I buy one new Christmas decoration each year - something that symbolises the year we have had (and I usually buy it after Christmas in the sales).

Christmas movie
It is always nice to have a family movie night on Christmas eve. There is always free-to-air TV but as they are full of commercials, you might like to consider other options. Try the drive-in for your Christmas movie night. It is cheap and fun and the kids can talk in their loud boomy voices without disturbing anyone (other than you!). There is always a DVD at home, which is even cheaper. Some of the old classics like "It's a wonderful life" can be picked up for a couple of dollars these days.

Kris Kringle
Our family swapped to Kris Kringle (aka Secret Santa) for the adults many years ago now. You set a sum that suits everyone's budget and just buy for one or two people. The first few years we did it, we got a name and the wish list from the recipient. Nowadays it is more about a fun gift and some Christmas joy.

Limit gift giving
None of us needs as many gifts at Christmas as we get. Limit your purchases either in number (Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read) or by budget. Set your budget and stick to it. Afterall, who wants to spend the first half of next year paying off Christmas? A much better way to do it is to spend half the year saving for it.

There are a thousand and one other things you can do to save money at Christmas. Tell me how you do it.

9 comments:

Nita Davis said...

You have some great ideas listed here. When my kids were young we always tried to make Christmas more about giving to others and it was pretty much always on a shoe string budget so we took advantage of many of these ideas.

River said...

We saved on Christmas decorations by having a small tree and only using the same old decorations over and over and over. It wasn't until the kids were grown and gone that I was able to buy new ones in the after Christmas sale at Coles when they were less than half price.
E-cards are a great idea too, there are only 3 "real" cards that I need to send each year now.

At Number 32 said...

Love your advent calender. Think I really need to get mine happening! Love your ideas - we love to potato paint our wrapping paper in red and green paint.

Petra said...

Love all your frugal ideas and we do quite a few of them BUT things always get out of hand for Christmas, too many gifts, too many traditions and I love sending Christmas cards (although bought stamps for oversees cards yesterday - $1.65 - I might have to consider the ecard option for next year!)

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Claireyhewitt said...

We only recently went to the drive in with the kids and really loved it, it would be a lovely thing to do on Christmas eve, I used to really love midnight mass as a child, but we are not really all that religious anymore and the tradition has gone. The last few years we have left driving around the Christmas lights in the area til Christmas Eve too.

Emily said...

Love the advent calendar idea. I'll be using that, with a few Christmas Carol nights as rewards.

We do the (not-so-)Secret Santa with both families now and it makes it so much easier. It also means you can increase the budget for that particular person, getting them something nicer than you may have otherwise, but still come out spending less money overall.

Kymmie said...

Love all these ideas - especially your advent spare socks calendar! Priceless! This year I'm making gifts to finish off a year of BNN. It's been a great year, and I think it fitting that I stinge just a little bit more!

xx

Seana Smith said...

I made candles for all the Scots and teachers etc etc Glowing with pride, I tell you.

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