Cutting back and saving money doesn't have to mean that our Christmas celebrations become less memorable. Just the opposite! We have found that our money saving efforts have actually enhanced our appreciation of the blessed and sacred Christmas season.
1 - Keep Christ the Center of Christmas CelebrationsTake the gifts, the wrapping, the parties, the cards, the lights, and the decorations, and move them off the center stage of your Christmas drama this year. Make Jesus Christ the shinning star and the central focus of your family Christmas celebrations. Here are 10 simple ways to do that:
2 - Make Homemade Christmas GiftsFor years, the smart and thrifty Guides at About.com have been coming up with exceptional ideas for homemade Christmas gifts. With many of these, you don't have to be especially gifted with arts and crafts skills. Here are some of their best and brightest ideas:
- 100 Homemade Gift Ideas
Sherri Osborn, our Family Crafts Guide, offers 100 crafty Christmas gift ideas. Many of these are particularly fun for children to make and give as presents.
- Top 10 Homemade Edible Christmas Gifts
Carroll Pellegrinelli, our Guide to Baking, has cooked up 10 tasty treats for you to give.
- Gifts From Your Kitchen
Diana Rattray, our Southern Food Guide, shares some secret recipes and sweet treats that you can easily put together with supplies from your own pantry.
- Free and Low-Cost Christmas Gifts
Erin Huffstetler, About.com's Frugal Living Guide, shows you how to cut costs and stretch dollars at Christmas.
- More Money Saving Gift Giving Ideas
3 - Give Gifts of ServiceChrist followers are called to be servants. So, for Christian families, this idea might be particularly significant and a substantial way for you to save money at Christmas. Be imaginative by giving redeemable coupons to each family member. Provide a back rub, run an errand, do the dishes, clean out a closet, or rake the yard. The possibilities are endless, and by making it personal and meaningful, the blessings of giving through service will continue to multiply.
4 - Family Gift ExchangeFor years our family has been enjoying the simplicity and amusement of family gift exchanges, not to mention the added benefit of saving money at Christmas! Some years we celebrate "Secret Santa" style by drawing names and buying a gift for just one person. Other years we do a "White Elephant" or "Dirty Santa" style exchange. You can set your own spending limits and rules for the game, keeping the focus on fun and family interaction, which happens to be the main reason we like this option so much.
5 - Give Practical GiftsI'll never forget the childhood Christmas when I (and each of my four siblings) found bath towels wrapped up under the tree. At age nine, I'll admit, it wasn't the most exciting gift, but we had just moved into a new house, and towels were all my parents could afford that year. Even though it was a practical gift, it was still fun to open. Since my husband and I enjoy the whole process of surprising each other and unwrapping gifts together, to save money, we give several practical gifts consisting of things we need and would be spending money on anyway.
6 - Make Your Own Christmas DecorationsI have always enjoyed the cozy, comfortable look and feel of homemade Christmas decorations. Here are several "do it yourself" ideas from About.com Guides on how to make your own Christmas decorations:
- Cheap Christmas Ornaments You Can Make Yourself (Interior Decorating)
- How to Make Recycled Christmas Tree Ornaments (Family Crafts)
- Create Your Own Heirloom Photo Ornament (Genealogy)
- Christmas Crochet Ideas (Crochet)
- Christmas Sewing Ideas (Sewing)
- Christmas Wreaths Crafts (Family Crafts)
7 - Rethink Christmas CardsHere's a news flash: There's no law that says you have to send Christmas cards every year! Little by little, I have been whittling down my list and sending them every other year to save money. With email, Facebook and other online options, you can lift this burden from your budget. If you still would rather send Christmas cards through the mail, here are a few tips to help you save money:
- Save Money on Christmas Cards (Frugal Living)
- Homemade Christmas Cards (Family Crafts)
- How to Make Cross Stitch Cards (Cross Stitch)
- How to Make Your Own Greeting Cards (Desktop Publishing)
- How to Make Great Greeting Cards (Rubber Stamping)