1. Religion & Spirituality

Ways to Save Money at Christmas

10 Tips to Keep Christmas Affordable

By

Save Money at Christmas
Photo: Seth Joel / Getty Images
Every year my family makes a conscious effort to "decommercialize" our Christmas celebrations by minimizing our focus on gift giving and centering our eyes on the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Now, as our economy presses many of us into even tighter financial restraints, more and more we're looking for creative ways to save money at Christmas.

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 Celebrations

Take 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 Gifts

For 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:

3 - Give Gifts of Service

Christ 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 Exchange

For 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 Gifts

I'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 Decorations

I 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:

7 - Rethink Christmas Cards

Here'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:

8 - Rethink Christmas Gift Wrapping

We buy all of our gift wrapping supplies at discount stores like Dollar General and Big Lots, and we buy them on sale, after Christmas, for the following year. Erin Huffstetler, About.com Guide to Frugal Living and Sherri Osborn, Guide to Family Crafts, have even more low-cost gift wrapping ideas:

9 - Spread Out the Expense

Another simple way our family has learned to save money at Christmas is by spreading out the expense of holiday meals. Instead of one person preparing the entire menu, each family member makes a dish (or three) and brings it to share. This also balances out the work load, making preparations easier for the one hosting the meal.

10 - Set a Budget and Stick to It

Let a few money saving experts help you stay within budget this Christmas:

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.