How to Save Money on Your Christmas Holidays
Guest post by Alban
The Christmas holidays are one of those times when we attempt to capture the excitement and magic of our childhood memories for our own children and families to experience. However, capturing those memories and creating those experiences not only takes an investment of time and effort, but often a financial investment too. Therefore as you look for ways to save on your Christmas holidays this year, remember the following tips:
- Plan your Christmas holiday shopping. Whether you plan to do your shopping online or in person this year, take a few minutes to put together a list of all of the gifts and trimmings you need. This will help stop you from overspending as you focus your shopping, don’t buy things you don’t need, and you know you’re finished shopping when you tick every item off of your list.
- Discount gift cards. Websites such as giftcardrescue.com and giftcards.com allow you to buy gift cards for below the face value of the cards, for a range of major department stores, retail shops and even hotels. For example, you could pay just $80 for a gift card which is worth $100 which you can either use to give gifts of more vale, and save your bottom line, or you can use the cards yourself and get an instant discount when you buy what you need for Christmas.
- Social media. Online communities such as Facebook and Twitter are no longer just for connecting with your friends and family, you can also save money on creating the perfect Christmas holiday for them too. By following your favorite retailers and service providers you can be instantly notified of sales or special offers, and while many businesses run specials in the lead up to Christmas, you will save time by rushing around to be in the right place at the right time, and save money on the items on your list.
- Ask for a discount. Even when you are shopping online you can ask for a discount on your Christmas holiday purchases. Many websites will have a chat or live help function, so ask the sales representative you chat with for a discount – start by asking for 15% and you can afford to be bartered down. Have the sales rep on live chat ask their manager about the discount, and tell them you are willing to take your business elsewhere, times are tough for everyone, and online stores may be more willing than you think to cut a deal to keep your sale.
- Designate spending. It is a well documented and researched fact that we spend less when we are physically handing over cash, compared to when we can remotely charge our credit or debit cards. Therefore, withdraw your Christmas holiday budget, and allocate amount to an envelope with each person’s name on it, and envelopes for ‘food’ or ‘decorations’ for example. In this way you never overspend and don’t have to worry about a Christmas credit card hangover.
- Group giving. Save on the cost of Christmas gifts by cutting back on the amount you give. This doesn’t mean being stingy, instead suggest a white elephant exchange or a secret Santa with a group of friends or family, or pool funds with co-workers to buy a gift for your boss.
- Give to others. As you spend your days in the lead up to Christmas running around purchasing gifts for other people, it is easy for the little seed of jealousy and entitlement to squeeze into even our most selfless thoughts, and we start to justify buying gifts for ourselves at the same time. However, now is the time to remind yourself about the joy of giving to others, the fact that you will be receiving thoughtful gifts from your friends and family, and that you could buy those gifts for yourself much cheaper in the post-Christmas sales.
- Don’t spend to save. In the course of looking for Christmas holiday bargains and trying to save on your holiday spending, it can be tempting to take advantage of those offers which require you to spend up to $200 to receive 10% off, or sign up to a store credit card to receive an instant 15% discount. Make sure you actually need the extra items, that they will be used and are on your list before you spend more than you had intended, and do the same due diligence you would when signing up to any new credit product to make sure the store card isn’t going to cost you more in the long run.
DIY Gifts to Save
You don’t have to necessarily be crafty or good in the kitchen to put together some Christmas gifts yourself, which will not only be more meaningful but also more affordable. Some unique DIY Christmas gift ideas include:
- Favorite things. Think of a number of inexpensive items you love, and use every day and create a gift basket for friends and family. Put together your favorite teas, chocolates, magazines, pens, gum or drinks and share all of your favorite things with your loved ones so that they think of you every time they use one of the items. The care and meaning of the gift overshadow any thoughts of how little the gift cost to put together.
- Baking. Mixing up a batch of cookies or brownies as a Christmas gift will usually cost you no more than $10, and displayed in a nice box with some ribbons, you will be giving a gift from the heart.
- Baking mixes. You can still give the gift of baked good even if you’re not very good in the kitchen, and this idea also makes an attractive gift to give. Choose a cookie of cake recipe and combine all of the dry ingredients in a pretty jar or container and wrap it up. Include the recipe with the gift, and all the recipients will have to do is probably add a few eggs and milk and they can make your gift any time they want. This is also a great way to extend Christmas, because we all receive so many cookies and chocolates that they may not all get eaten in the weeks after Christmas, but your gift will keep on giving.
- Family tree. It has become very popular to look into your family’s history and find out more about where you came from, as such there are a number of ancestry websites around which can help you trace back your family tree, or create a family history chart. You can then either use the services of the website which may allow you to design and organize printing of your findings, or you can take the information and design your own family gift. You can have the tree printed up on nice paper and set in a frame to create a truly meaningful gift which cost you more in time than in money, and you’ve learned something about yourself too.
- Personalized stationary. You can use a simple word processing program to make up personalized stationary sets for family and friends. Choose colors you know each person will like, and images or designs which match their personality, and buy some nice paper in bulk to run off paper and envelopes which say ‘From the desk of…’ or which have the person’s contact details printed and ready.
- Photos. Your parents and grandparents will always appreciate more photos of you and your family, so have some shots printed off, or buy some photo paper and print the photos at home, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a frame or a set of frames as the focus of the gift is you. Or if you want to let your family choose the photos they print, you can burn your family photos from the year onto a disk. This will cost you around 10 cents per disk, and your family can then use the photos as a desktop background, email them to friends, and have them blown up to any size they choose.
- Personalized gift cards. You can create gift cards for any of your friends, family and neighbors. For example, you can give your partner a book of gift cards for a homemade romantic meal or a back rub, you could give a friend a book of gift cards for a coffee or a movie night or babysitting, or give card for lawn mowing or snow shoveling to an elderly neighbor.
Alban is a writer with strong interest in money saving and frugality.When he is not writing, Alban reviews online savings accounts.