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5 Ways to Save on Christmas Expenses – Frugal Friday

This week we’ve been talking Christmas planning here at LifeasMOM. As you probably know, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are the biggest retail weeks of the year. Stores want your money and they’ll go to great lengths to get you to buy their product.

We need to be diligent all 12 months of the year, but Christmas time can be an exceptionally tempting season toward overspending. Thinking about it today can help you spend less and save more in the long run. Create a battle plan now before the sights and sounds of Christmas sway you toward not so wise choices.

The following are ways that we have made ends meet at the holidays.

Make Presents

For years this was my main mode of operation. I enjoyed the creative exercise, and we saved money. If you’re going to make gifts, NOW is the time to gather ideas and supplies and to get started. Handmade gifts can take longer than you think, and it does you no good if you are burning the midnight oil on December 24th.

Request Free Samples

You may already regularly request free samples. A few years ago I started saving all those sample size packages of cereal, granola bars, and other treats for Christmas. I keep a box on a shelf in the pantry to stash them in and then I fill my kids’ stockings with breakfast — for free.

Win with Swagbucks

I love Swagbucks. My family uses it as our main search engine and daily wins points that we redeem for Amazon gift cards. Last year we bought all the kids Christmas gifts on Amazon with Swagbucks. Loved it! And since we didn’t earmark money all year long, it relieved some of my spending guilt.

If you haven’t signed up yet, do so now and start using SwagBucks as your search engine. By the time the holidays roll around, you should have a nice little nest egg to trade in for gift cards.

Shop online via ShopAtHome and Ebates

Even though we live in the same state as most of our family, we don’t get to see everybody on the holidays. I’ve found that if I know I am going to ship a present, I do better to skip the middle man (me) and have the gift go straight from the store to the gift recipient. They usually know I’m too cheap to spring for gift wrapping, so they know not to open the package until Christmas

Since I order a fair amount online, I’ve found that using ShopAtHome or Ebates works well to get a little cash back from online purchases. Last year I ordered holiday clothes online via Black Friday and got great deals, free shipping, and cash back from my purchases.

Make Do with Less

This is probably the most obvious as well as the most difficult way to save money at the holidays. But, there are lots of things that you might think are necessary at Christmas time, that really aren’t. Talk with your family and find out what is really important to them. Make those things priorities and if the rest doesn’t fit the budget, then do without it this year.

Christmas cards used to be a “must-have” for me. But, three years ago I stopped sending them and haven’t looked back. The world went on without a holiday greeting from us in the mailbox.

How do you save money at the holidays — or the other 11 months of the year?

Share your favorite money-saving ideas today. Leave a link to a post that shares some frugal wisdom. (Please no giveaways or deals posts. Teach us how to fish!)

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Comments

  1. I love the “making your own” gifts idea. On the really lean years this is what our family has done and they are usually the favorite gifts because we put a lot of time and effort into them.
    I have a hard time with the whole Christmas in July thing since it is in the high 90’s this week, but I am starting to get into the spirit. :)

    Toni

  2. I borrowed your free sample idea last year and included cereal samples in my kids stockings which they could eat for a quick breakfast and then we could sit down for a more enjoyable meal a little later. They loved it! Thanks!

    • Oh, I also used your Mix ‘n Match Muffin recipe to give as gifts. It has become one of our favorite recipes. We will have our current favorite variation, apple nut raisin, tomorrow!

  3. Wow momma, you really gave me a lot of great christmas savings ideas that I never even thought of! Gonna sign up for that swagbucks for sure! My article this week is all about a Bittman recipe that I was unable to effectively “Traditionalize” and the lessons I learned. Thanks for sharing your space with us on Frugal Friday and have a GREAT week! :) alex@amoderatelife

  4. Just as a heads up with SwagBucks, you can only redeem a certain amount of prizes per day & per month, so this is something that if you have a lot of points to use, you might want to start in late october/early nov. to redeem so you can make sure you get them in time. I didn’t know about that & last year wound up frustrated & scrambling….

  5. Thanks for hosting!

    These are great ideas for Christmas. I love making gifts. My husband’s family loves it whenever I give my homemade baking mixes complete with the recipe. Jars of homemade apple butter and bread and butter pickles were a hit last year too! My BIL loves my homemade caramel corn so he gets a batch of that each year. It’s easy to make and inexpensive!

  6. I know it’s Christmas in July and all, but yikes! I just can’t think about snow and Christmas presents yet LOL.

  7. I have made scrapbooking calendars, corkboard decorated with pictures along the frame, and recipe books for gifts for people. They all enjoyed them! I think when you put time into things, people realize that you thought about them!

    http://livingsoabundantly.blogspot.com/2010/07/gold-nuggets.html

  8. Great ideas…I always forget to use Swagbucks. I must get better at that.

    Thanks for the carnival.

  9. Great ideas! I save lots of our free samples for stockings, too.
    Thanks for hosting Frugal Friday!

  10. Now that I’ve finished a baby blanket I was working on (for my first grand nephew, Patrick Warren), I totally have to get started on Christmas presents! You are right, now’s the time!
    BTW, do you have Coinstar machines in your grocery stores? While they do charge for cash counting, if you get a gift card or certificate (I like to get them for either Amazon.com or Borders) it is totally free. I bet if you go around the house you’ll find lots of change you can cash in for free. Remember, a lot of places ship free if you have a minimum purchase, so you can get stuff for pennies and nickles you had lying around, anyway!

  11. Just a tip…for the past several years we have gotten many of the black friday deals online on Thanksgiving. Stores like best buy and amazon have great deals.

  12. These are really good ideas. I will start stocking up on Christmas supplies now!

  13. I can produce that I grow in our garden and we eat off of it all winter. I am hosting a Canning Week Blog Party the week of August 23-27 with lots of tips, recipes and how-to on canning. I think a lot of women are probably a little skeptical or have just never done it and hopefully once they see how easy it is they will want to give it a try. Hope you can stop by sometime that week as well!!!

  14. Funny – I posted about Christmas prep for Frugal Friday just last week. I guess we’re all trying to escape the heat by thinking about Christmas! Here are my ideas:
    http://frugallyblonde.blogspot.com/2010/07/preparing-for-christmas-in-july.html

  15. Wendy R says:

    If you want to send out Christmas cards order them early. Last year I ordered my photo greeting cards in October during a great sale from Shutterfly.com. I got free shipping and saved a bundle. This may mean you have to resort to sending a photo taken this summer, but who doesn’t love a little sun in December? My cards were addressed and ready to go before Thanksgiving…I just waited to send them out.

  16. For the last few years, we’ve limited our gift-giving, and no one seems to mind. We also give spring/summer clothes (purchased at end of season sales or resale shops) as part of our gift to the kids.

    Also, track your purchases and those of others, if they share. If I know that one grandmother has bought one thing, I let others know so that we don’t have to mess with returns, disappointment, etc.

  17. And here’s a recap of ideas for homemade gifts: http://going-green-mama.blogspot.com/search/label/homemade%20holidays

  18. Such great ideas! :) We love to put our Swagbucks to good use for gifts!!

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