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How to Save Money Buying Christmas Gifts

Christmas time is busy and can be costly for us all– no doubt! There is no way to get around the busy part, but the good news is… I have some advice on how to save money by buying Christmas gifts. Great idea, right?

Did you know people spend around 500 billion dollars on Christmas gifts yearly? Well, if that number scares you and you don’t want to be a part of that number, let’s discuss ways to avoid overspending this Christmas. Sound nice? Let’s dive in!

tips on how to save money buying Christmas gifts

To say these ideas are a dime-a-dozen may be an understatement. But which ones will you really follow through with this year? That is another story entirely. That is why I came up with these simple ways to get you started on your journey to save a penny or two… or three or four, this year.

determine & set a budget for Christmas gifts

Perhaps the most difficult part of a saving plan is determining your budget and sticking to it! Did you read the second part of that sentence? I know, I know! How can you set a strict budget at Christmas time? After all, it is the giving season.

But here’s the truth, the people who care about you don’t want you to go into debt to buy them a gift!

Setting a budget this year will help you start the new year better, which is a gift you can give yourself! That said, only you can determine how much that budget will be. I suggest a few quick tips here.

  • write down your monthly income,
  • write down your monthly expenses
  • subtract your expenses from your income

Then see what is left over. Then make a list of all you need to buy for– and determine how much you have to spend on each. Then, stay within that limit.

track spending as you go

Again, I know it can be cumbersome. But, the only way to ensure you stay within budget and keep things even amongst relatives is by tracking your spending. With everything going on during the holidays, it is only smart to get things out of your mind and documented somewhere else.. Avoid the confusion altogether by simply keeping track of what and for whom you have purchased a gift. — easy peasy!

This can be as basic as a scrap of paper you keep in your wallet or as sophisticated as an app. For years, I have kept an excel spreadsheet in that I would input what I spent for each person and calculate what was left in my budget.

I have just started using the Christmas Gift List app (by Medialoha), but the Christmas Gift List (by engApps) and Gift List (by Flavel) are also well-reviewed for Android. The Christmas Gift List for Apple has great reviews.

coupons, deals & steals

When you start Christmas shopping, try looking through magazines and browsing online to find coupons and deals. There really are so many opportunities to save a buck here and there, and they do add up! Even if it means going on certain days or specific times, saving the money will be worth it.

Coupons to look for:

  • Buy one get one free
  • 10% off and more
  • Buy two, get one free
  • Free gift with purchase

I particularly like the free gift with purchase. I use them for additional gifts. For instance, if I get a free tote with a purchase, I may wrap that gift in the free tote. That way, I save on wrapping, and they get two gifts in one!

shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

I know this one can be controversial because of the hectic traffic, early hours, and pushy crowds. Still, you might get a fantastic deal on something that is usually a lot more expensive during the year. Then, make it fun by going with a group of family or friends. I’ve even seen some people make matching shirts, stop for a coffee and a small breakfast, and take on the morning. 

I know it might sound like a long day, but most people stop shopping around 8 a.m. Then you have the rest of the day to clean up after Thanksgiving or organize your gift haul. Or better yet, take a nap!

If you are not up for Black Friday, stay in your jim-jams and do your shopping on Cyber Monday!

use cash $ when you go shopping

When you head out to shop and feel you lack discipline, take the money you’ve set aside for gifts and pull it out in cash! You could go a step further and put the money for each recipient into a separate envelope.

Envelope with cash.

sign up for a cash-back account

I use Rakuten when I shop with certain retailers online. In the ten years I’ve been using Rakuten, I’ve earned over $1,100 back in cash. Each quarter I get a little deposit in my Paypal account. It’s a nice little bonus.

You could even add that little quarterly bonus to your Christmas gift account!

start off next year with money in the bank!

If you are tired of stressing out come November, maybe start putting money aside in January. All year set aside your extra cash and watch it build up as Christmas gets closer. 

To better understand what you need to set aside, look at your spending from last year– all around– on gifts, leisure activities, coffee, eating out, and more. See where you can cut back and then add that money to the Christmas fund.

In addition, set a goal you want to reach by Christmas if you decide to set aside a certain amount each month. Say $50 to 80 dollars a month, and then multiply that by 12 to see where you could end up if you start at the beginning of the year, right after Christmas. It is actually quite encouraging!

Then you will have that money to spend on Christmas gifts without guilt! And that money won’t be coming out of your daily operating bank account. Your stress will be lower in knowing that money is set aside and ready for those unique gifts.

shop all year

By setting aside money all year, you’ll have the funds to start shopping when you see something you know Aunt Susan will LOVE!

how to save money: creative ideas for gifting

Sometimes you need to get creative when cutting corners on spending. And that is just fine with me! I love to make gifts and come up with new helpful ideas, as you can tell. So, here are a few more ways to spend a little less this year.

Christmas gift wrapped in brown paper.

secret Santa!

You have probably heard of this one.

We did this for years with the adults in my husband’s family. We were each randomly assigned another adult for whom to buy a gift.

This is a fun way of gift-giving because you don’t have to stress too much about picking out so many gifts for so many different people. Simply draw one name, focus on that person, and consider what they will love.

This is also excellent for young families, college student gatherings, office parties, and more!

thrift gifts

If you are a creative person, thrifting gifts will be easy and fun for you to do. Those with this talent can look at something and automatically see something beautiful coming to life. Not to mention, many people enjoy this type of thoughtful gift.

Jar of Vanilla fleur de sel.

Thrifted examples may include:

homemade gifts

Handmade gifts don’t have to be necklaces made out of pasta! (not that I’m knocking pasta necklaces! Especially the ones dyed with food color.)

Use the skills you have (or want to learn) to make something special for someone!

Rope trivet.

Handmade examples:

Christmas gift tags.

give the gift of time

I love this idea!

  • If you have a skill that you know someone wants to learn, give ‘a coupon’ for a couple of lessons. A couple of ideas: knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing, furniture refinishing, cooking, canning, painting, how to make a pie, etc… The list is endless. What skills do you have?
  • What about giving the gift of gardening? Pulling weeds?
  • Babysitting? Errand Running?

Truly the list of things you could do is endless.

recycle your gift wrap & ribbon to save money at Christmas

Our family has been trained over many years to unwrap our gifts carefully so that my mom can reuse the wrapping paper! It’s really not hard; just slide your fingers under the seam where the tape is.

The same with ribbon. We ease it off the packages carefully.

Not only does this save money on buying gift wrap and ribbon, but it makes the whole gift unwrapping process last longer, which makes Christmas morning last longer…which is a good and wonderful thing.

happy gifting and happy holidays to you

Less stress and some saved money are gifts you can give yourself this year and all year, for that matter. So, thank you for following along; I know you will do great!

I hope these ideas and recommendations have helped you learn creative ways to save money by buying Christmas gifts. If you think of other ideas, please share them with me! I’d love to hear what you took away from this article. 

Enjoy the holidays and Merry Christmas!

Bookmark this page or pin the following image to return to these tips on how to save money buying Christmas Gifts in the future.

Stack of Christmas gifts.
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