Saturday, December 10, 2016

25 ways to save this Christmas

Christmas can be is so easy to let all those little things add up and not realize how much you've really spent.  This year I saved all my Christmas receipts to see how much we spent.  I mean everything from stocking gifts to gifts we bought to donate to the advent calendars for the girls.  In the end I don't feel we broke the budget, but we tried this year to save anywhere we could.  Here are a few ways we saved this year along with some other ways you can have a cost friendly Christmas.

Now any of these things listed you could opt out of completely and save more, this is just to help you save on those things if you choose to do them this Christmas.

25.  Homemade Hot chocolate:

We go through so much hot chocolate during the Christmas time...its the one time I'm more lenient  about how much chocolate/sweets the girls have.  Homemade hot chocolate is not only healthier for you, well let's be honest as healthier for you as it can be, I mean its hot chocolate after all!  But, it can be cheaper too.  Here is a recipe that I have used from the blog, Eating on a Dime, for the last couple of years and I really like it.  Easy Homemade Hot Chocolate 

24. Homemade Advent calendars:

I love the Advent calendar tradition, but those candy calendars can start to get costly depending on how many you need for your family.  Right now we just need two but at $10.00 a piece that easily adds up.  I found this great homemade advent calendar that is pretty easy, cute and way affordable!  It's from Coffee and Vanilla.  All you need are 12 toilet paper rolls or about 6 paper towel rolls/calendar, wrapping paper, ribbon & a bead or button.  Plus I just bought 2 packs of stickers to divide up to put inside, so it ended up costing me $2.00!! I already had all the other supplies  (Ask around for family members to save their toilet paper rolls if you need to).  So if you are still looking for an easy advent calendar check out her blog!

I thought I had a photo pre the Christmas frenzy, but I didn't; however, there's proof they hold up and my girls love tearing a piece each day. 

23. Limit your gifts/Set a budget:

Our girls are very blessed.  They get presents from both grandparents and both aunts and uncles.  With that we don't really need to get them presents, but as parents it's nice to do something. We give our girls 1-2 gifts each and no more.  Some years both gifts are small.  Some years we do a bigger gift.  Either way we're not spending a ton on gifts because we don't need to, nor do they need a lot.  I will say even if we didn't have parents and siblings that bought our girls' gifts, we would still limit the gifts. 

If limiting your gifts doesn't work, maybe your family is way out of town and can't give gifts, or maybe you are the sole gift giver, no problem, you can still set a budget.  The important thing is to stick to that budget.  My mother in love always went by the rule of: Something they want, Something they need, Something to wear, and Something to read..  4 simple gifts.  Plus the book, clothes and something they need can be bought early in the year at a sale price, so you have more to spend on the want item, which let's be honest with kids that can change right up to Christmas Day!  My daughter told me she wanted a skateboard over Thanksgiving...and yet since then it's always something different.

22. Homemade gifts:

Homemade gifts are also always a way to go.  You can do all homemade gifts, or you can do mostly homemade with one bought gift.  Homemade gifts are a great hit for most grandparents, or even your spouse. Whatever you choose making gifts is usually cheaper in the end than buying gifts.  Plus depending on the gift it can even act as a Christmas decor for future years. For more ideas check out my posts on Christmas Creations or Christmas Creations part 2.  I have lots of homemade gift ideas listed there.

This is one that I helped my daughter make 2 years ago.  It's one of our favorite Christmas decorations now.

21. Re-use/Re-gift:

Okay I know this one isn't one of the favorites out there, but there are times it works great and you can save some money.  One year I had a family member who didn't want a coffee grinder of theirs and asked if I wanted it, which of course I was all about and guess what I got it for Christmas and I was thrilled!!  This year our oldest is ready for a bike, so we are planning on getting her one for Christmas.  While our youngest is going to be getting the balance bike that older sister won't need anymore.  Why should we buy another balance bike when we have one that will work perfect?  Why not wrap it up and give it to our 1 1/2 year old for Christmas?  Re-using/Re-gifting is being wise about what you have.  This way we can get that more expensive bike for the older girl who needs one.  As I said before, we usually get them 1-2 gifts, so the younger one is also getting something else from us.  

20. Homemade decorations:

Some of my favorite decorations are ones that my girls make.  The countdown Christmas chain, hand-print wreath, the hand-print tree (pictured above under homemade gifts, this was also a homemade gift to her Daddy a couple years ago, see gifts can double as decor later on!) the cotton-ball snowman that hung in our kitchen for a whole YEAR, yep I seriously JUST took it down the other day.  Homemade decorations can have more meaning than store bought and they are more unique too.  So grab some construction paper, scissors and some glue and get started making some fun decor!

19. Shop the after Christmas sales for next year:

Our oldest daughter's first Christmas she didn't have a tree in her room, now I know that might not sound like a lot, but my husband & his sister grew up having mini trees in their rooms and I wanted to continue that tradition.  So we were given a little tree that we had in our room and decided to use that for her until we could purchase her one.  Now it was December, there were PLENTY of little trees we could go out and buy, but we didn't because why pay full price for something you don't need right away.  We waited until after Christmas sales and it wasn't until the next year's after Christmas sale we found 2 mini matching trees that were only $10.00 for the pair!  Score and now we have a tree for both girls' rooms and we only paid $5.00 a piece.

This is one of the trees to the set.  What's really neat is since we waited we found 2 that match, so the girls have matching trees! 

For years I've always wanted a wreath for our porch and last year we found one during an after Christmas sale for 75% was originally $4.00!  We got a wreath for $1.00.  It pays to wait you don't need to get everything right away.

18. Collect decor or ornaments from your family or friends who don't want them anymore:

Some of my best decor, besides my homemade decor from the girls are items that have been given to us from family members that were purging.  I like things that have meaning, I like to decorate with things that I can say, "that use to be your Nana's" or "When I was a little girl I had this in my room".  It gives the feeling of belonging even more to have decorations that have a past.

17. Make your own Christmas card:

Recently I did a post on how easy it is to make your own Christmas card.  Make your own via Publisher or even a word doc. and then print it as a 4x6 photo for as low as 9 cents!  You can check out the post here.

Along with making your own Christmas card, you can save on postage and hand deliver any that live near by or in your area.

16. Homemade ornaments vs. of store bought:

We have a tradition that was passed down from my husband's family of giving ornaments to the girls every year.  While store ornaments are cute and there are SO many options now a days, you can easily make your own ornaments too.

Here are a few that were hand made over the years:

Hand-print salt ornaments
Felt Ornaments 
Cookie cutter with little treasures on them: 

pipe cleaner candy canes 

You can also buy those make your own ornaments for pretty cheap:

Here are more ideas I found on Pinterest:
Popsicle snowflakes
Glittered monogram 
Melted Peppermint candy  (These are one year use only)
Mason Jar Lid wreaths

Pinterest has everything, homemade ornaments for toddlers, kids or just in general, you can find so many by just typing in homemade ornaments!

15. Shop those consignment stores throughout the year:

There are some people that you know just what you're getting.  Those are the ones to watch out for at consignment stores.  Those and toys,  I really like getting toys at consignments stores because they're cheaper, they've already been played with so that means they're pretty durable and you can buy it throughout the year and not feel guilty about the cost.  You can score some great things at consignment stores.  Check out my post here, about some great deals I have found.

14. Homemade crafts for kids:

This can tie in with the homemade gifts too.  Those homemade crafts can become gifts as well or they can just be activities for the kids to play with or create during Christmas time.  One I made a couple years ago is a felt tree, it was super easy to make and my daughters still love playing with it.  In fact my 3 year old was so excited to get it out this year, when we told her we were going to get the Christmas stuff out she asked for 3 things, her mini tree, her nativity and her felt tree.  Felt is a great thing to use for making Christmas crafts, check out my other Christmas homemade crafts here. 

13. Homemade cookies or other treats:

Okay, really who doesn't like a homemade cookie?  You can even go entirely homemade and it's even cheaper than the bag or box.  We don't really buy a lot of cookies, but around Christmas we have a little sweets.  Making cookies is way cheaper than buying all the Christmas candy or sweets.

Another way to use homemade treats, make them for your neighbors. We usually give our neighbors homemade cookies as part of the Advent calendar activity.  They are simple, cost friendly and a nice way to say Merry Christmas to the neighbors.  You can even put them in a simple tin or box with a little tissue paper and a homemade tag.

12. Free family advent activities:

There are so many things you can do as Advent traditions that don't cost a lot or are free.  Such as make a snowman, make homemade hot coco, make a Christmas chain countdown,  sleep under the Christmas tree.

One Advent calendar activity I like to do is go see the Christmas lights, this can cost if you go to a special park, but you can easily drive around your local neighborhood and see how people decorated their houses.  We usually visit another local town in our area to get out and make it a little more special.  Another way you can make seeing lights special, give the kids a little bag of popcorn, some hot coco in a thermal and let them go in their jammies!

11. Buy things at beginning of the year:

Just like looking around at consignment stores throughout the year you can stock up at sales on things for stocking stuffers.  This year my 3 year old is really into art, cutting, coloring, gluing, you name it.  At the beginning of the year when school supplies were on sale I stocked up, any extra I have (because I didn't think about this at the time), will go to her stocking.  You can check out my post on school supplies here   Next year I plan to plan ahead and grab some extra deals for Christmas, little peanut will be into art supplies soon I'm sure!  

10. DIY scents for your home or candle warmer vs. candles that burn up:

I wanted to have a candle that smelled of pine trees for our home this year.  I was pretty proud of myself for getting one 1/2 off, but you know what, it's only the 2nd week of December and the candle is almost gone!!  I was planning on reusing that baby for at least another year!  So, I realized I had a candle warmer upstairs in our bathroom, I plan to use that with my new candle next year (because at this point, this candle is a one year candle)

Another option to help your home smell Christmasy, you can make your own scents that cost a lot less than candles (even when they are 50% off).
Here's one I found: Wintery Scent
Here's a link to many other ideas:

9. Use that stock of bags instead of wrapping paper or use brown paper:

Instead of buying new wrapping paper every year, use that stock of bags and tissue paper you've been saving.  Missed that post, you can find a link here

Otherwise, buy some brown paper, it can be cheaper than decorative wrapping paper 1. You get way more in a roll,'re not stuck with mix match wrapping paper the next year, and 3. you can make it really cute + change it up every year.  You can also use that brown packaging paper that comes with those online orders.  Here are some of my favorite ways to use brown paper: Brown Paper Wrapping Ideas

8. Save those bags, tags, or ribbon for next year:

Okay so if you didn't check out my previous post about stock piling those bags and tissue paper from different parties, stop reading and go check it out.  Here's another link: Gift Bag stock Pile   You can also ask family members who don't want theirs if you can have them and add them to your stock pile.  I always get more when I ask family members if I can save theirs too!  Honestly, when Christmas comes around next year, you'll be glad you saved them.  Last year, I didn't have to buy any supplies to wrap or package gifts, I re-used everything!

7. Buy a little at a time:

It's so easy to want everything right away, especially when you have your first home, and/or are newly married.  It's so easy to see all the decorations and know that you have little if any and want to buy for your home.  Just remember every year there's always more and there's always something different.  So start small, build your collection a little at time.  As I said above shop the after Christmas sales too to save even more.

6. When it comes to decorating, simple is better and don't buy stylish:

I love to decorate with simple decorations.  The old saying less is more, I completely agree with when decorating for Christmas, or any holiday for that matter.  One way is ornaments in glass jars, they can be classy, but don't cost much.  (See the photo above under Homemade Gifts.  Plus some years you can use them to decorate your tree, when you have options with your decorations that's even better.

This is a lantern that I usually have a candle in, but took out for Christmas and just added some of our extra bulbs we didn't need for the tree (We've added new ornaments since our first year and can now use those bulbs for decorations).  The nutcrackers came from my in-laws.

This village came from my husband's grandpa.  I love having decor that is from family, it just makes it more special to decorate with.  Notice the snow in my village, super simple and affordable, cotton balls stretched out.  Then I just throw them in a ziploc bag and pack them up with the village for the next year.

Another idea for decorating is invest in decor that isn't seasonal.  I like chevron stripes, but I'm not going to buy all chevron Christmas decor, who knows how long that's going to be in style.  Maybe I get a chevron item on sale, but the rest of my decor are items that I can use year after year.    

5. Free family traditions:

We have a tradition that was passed down called Hanging of the Greens.  We spend one afternoon or evening, eating pizza (homemade) and watching a Christmas movie.  Then setting up our tree, decorating it, getting out the girls' nativities and mini trees, opening up their new ornament for the year (can be homemade), and then watching another Christmas movie before bed.  It makes Christmas a little more special and it's a free Advent Calendar activity.  The only cost is the supplies.

Another free family tradition is the Advent wreath.  We (well try to) do the Advent wreath every Sunday night.  The only cost for this was getting the candles and wreath.  Then after that you can use it every year.  We don't let ours keep burning all week long, lets the candles last longer, but it's safer for the girls too.  Some other ides: go caroling, visit a nursing home, or or donate some extra toys to an organization like Justice for All, Salavation Army, or Goodwill. 

Some other free family traditions are listed above under free Advent activities.  

4. Use what you have:

This also goes along with don't buy everything at once.  Right now we don't have a train under our tree, I'm hoping to ask for one next year for Christmas, but as of now I improvised.  We have a train set, thanks to my daughter who is really into trains (that was her present last Christmas), so we took her wooden train set and made a track around the tree.  Using what you have makes it a more cost-friendly Christmas.

3. Use paper clips for hooks as opposed to store bought:

The other day we were at Wal-Mart browsing the Christmas section for fun, when I saw you can buy hooks for your ornaments.  Now you do get about 100 for only 98 cents, but I thought how many of these are bought every year!  We always just used paper clips which you can get really cheap too and they can be saved in a baggie to re-use, unlike the ones I saw.  Now I will say I didn't buy them and I haven't used them, but they didn't look very sturdy to re-use.  Plus paper clips aren't really visible once the ornaments are on.

Don't like the idea of paper clips, go ahead and invest in some hooks, but if I were you I'd buy some nice ones (we do have some of those) and then put them in a bag to save for next year, just store with your ornaments so you have them.  That way you're not having to re-buy them every year.

2. Decorate outside without lights:

Okay, I have always wanted to have lights on our house.  I grew up having our house decorated with lights every year.  So since we have had our house I've always tried to get lights up, but we never do.  We have no outside outlet and our garage isn't attached so it just doesn't work.  This year though as I was adding the garland around our step rails and hanging up our new on sale wreath (I'm very proud if can't tell), I realized we can decorate our front porch for Christmas without having lights and we aren't having to pay that extra energy bill for those lights either.  So while I will miss having lights on the house, I can be content with the fact that we aren't having to pay extra this month for electricity, even if it is just a few dollars.

1. Remember what Christmas is all about: 

Remember that Christmas is primarily about our Savior's birth.  In the end it's not about the toys, or presents, or decorations or what we buy.  In the end it's about remembering that God sent his Son to die for our sins that we may have eternal life.  This is what over everything else my husband and I want our girls to learn.  Trying to keep Christmas simple, and focusing on Jesus is our ultimate goal.

There are so many songs and movies that tell this story, My daughter's newly favorite: How the Grinch Stole Christmas,  even after the Grinch stole all the Christmas stuff, the Whos' still celebrated Christmas. My all time favorite: A Christmas Carol, the three spirits show Scrooge how money is not the most important thing in life. And finally, the song "Christmas is all in the heart" by Steven Curtis Chapman, also talks about how Christmas is more than things, but rather its in the heart and what's the heart of Christmas?  Jesus. 

So this Christmas no matter what your budget may be, remember that Jesus is Lord and it's HIS birthday we are celebrating!  God gave HIS greatest gift, eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ!!! 

God Bless and I pray you each have a MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!! 

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