With Christmas just around the corner, many people are feeling the financial crunch when they think about all of the gifts they need to purchase for friends and family. The current economy has left many people with less money to spend on gifts that they’re used to having.

The truth is that you really don’t need to worry. There are many options other than going shopping at the mall and spending too much money. Additionally, Christmas is a time to reflect on the birth of Jesus, spend quality time with family and friends, and appreciate the important things we have in our lives.

This is not to say that exchanging gifts shouldn’t be a part of Christmas. Holiday shopping is fun, and gifts are a way to show how much you care for someone, or to simply share in your friendship. Here are some creative and festive ways to save money this Christmas so the holiday season doesn’t strain your budget, or lose its sparkle!

1. Send Cards Instead of Gifts

A thoughtful Christmas card shows people that you’re thinking of them and can often mean more than a commercial gift. Save even more money by purchasing cards in bulk. Include a handwritten note that personalizes your card.

2. Make a Shopping List

When you go shopping, make a list of the items you need to purchase, this will prevent impulse purchases. Keep track of the amount of money you can afford to spend and stick to it. Establish a budget ahead of time to help you save money this Christmas.

3. Participate in a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Instead of buying gifts for all your friends and family, draw one person’s name and become that person’s Secret Santa. Place a dollar limit on how much to spend. Instead of buying gifts for many people, you can focus your giving on one person.

4. Save on Wrapping Paper

Purchase wrapping paper at discount stores. Save gift bags throughout the year, then you won’t need as much wrapping paper. Wrapping paper goes on clearance just after Christmas, so stock up a year in advance and you’ll save a lot of money.

5. Shop Online

Most stores extend their sales and promotions to their online stores. Compare prices easily and look for online promotion codes to save even more money. You’ll save on gas money when you don’t have to drive to stores, too.

6. Plan Your Online Purchases Ahead of Time

Most online stores offer free shipping when you reach a certain dollar amount. Plan your purchases so you can order your items all at once to make sure you can receive free or reduced shipping rates. Ship items directly to the recipient’s home so you don’t have to pay to re-ship items once you receive them. Most online companies offer gift options where you can choose gift wrapping, a gift tag, and a gift receipt.

7. Give Homemade Gifts

One of the best ways to save money this Christmas is by creating homemade gifts. Consider crafting, or sending baked goods instead of store-bought presents. Homemade gifts often offer a sentimental touch that you can’t find in any department store. Look for homemade gift ideas online and plan ahead so you have plenty of time to create your gifts.

8. Give Gifts of Service

Create your own redeemable coupons that are good for services such as cooking dinner, serving breakfast in bed, a free car wash, a back rub, mowing the grass, doing the dishes, or running an errand. The possibilities here are endless and many people will appreciate your services more than a store-bought gift.

9. Focus on the Celebration, Not the Gifts

Talk to friends and extended family about spending time together instead of exchanging gifts. Sometimes people feel obligated to continue giving gifts to people year after year. Be willing to tell people that you’d prefer to have their presence—and not their presents—at Christmas, and suggest that you don’t swap gifts this year.

10. Share the Costs of Holiday Meals

If you’re hosting any holiday meals or parties, don’t be shy about telling people what they can bring. Allow others to bring food so everyone can share in the costs of the celebration. Focus on spending time with your loved ones instead of making everything perfect and you can make it the best Christmas ever.

Christmas, for all its wonders, can be a pretty expensive time of year. Eight Simple Ways to Spend Less This Christmas

Featured photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

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