Gearing Up for the Holidays in a Frugal Way

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Even though Christmas is still several weeks away, I know that it will be here in the twinkling of an eye. And since I want to enjoy the season as much as possible and NOT get caught up in the craziness that often accompanies Christmas, I’m doing a few things to gear up.

1. Start a Christmas Stash.

I have a large basket on the top shelf of my closet where I am storing Christmas gifts. As I come across some toy or other item that I think one of my giftees might enjoy, I’m putting it in the basket. When I come across cute wrappings and fillers to reuse, I’m stashing those as well.

I am hoping that by storing these things in one place I can avoid the mad dash of Christmases Past when I wracked my brain, “Where did I put that….?”

2. Save up SwagBucks.

Last year we were able to fund the bulk of our Christmas spending with SwagBucks, a search engine that rewards you with prizes randomly. I’m not sure that we’ll be able to do that again this year since I spent many of the gift cards on school supplies. But, I’m keeping an eye toward acquiring as many as possible.

Since SwagBucks has a limit of five prize redemptions of a kind each month and two prize redemptions of any kind per day, it’s important not to leave redeeming your bucks for the last minute. You need to plan ahead. And if you haven’t yet signed up for SwagBucks, now is a good time to start.

3. Start thinking toward a peaceful season.

I want to enjoy my children’s excitement about the holiday. I want to savor the traditional activities that we only do once a month. I don’t want to worry about travel plans, finding lost socks, or wondering how we’re going to pay for X, Y, or Z. So, I’m making mental notes and having mini planning sessions with FishPapa to think through some of these things ahead of time.

While there are lots of ways to save money and many ways to economize at the holidays, these are three things that I can put into motion now so that we aren’t a day late and a dollar short come December 25th.

What do YOU do to save money?

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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  1. I am starting to think and plan for Christmas too. I keep a list of ideas for gift giving, but I really don’t start any shopping until November.

    Thanks for the carnival.

  2. Although it’s nice to see family during the holidays, I also think it is lovely to stay put, esp. with small children. I am going to try to space out our Christmas purchases more this year.

    1. It’s very lovely to stay put. We made that decision very early on that we wouldn’t travel on Christmas and that has been such a wonderful time just us and the kids.

  3. My husband and I were just talking about starting our Christmas cash fund! The holidays are so much more stressful when there are things that have to be bought (gifts for work parties, etc.) and we are not sure where the money will come from to pay for them!

  4. I have started planning for Christmas too. Starting early allows me more time to find the perfect gift while staying within my budget. My goal is to have everything that must be mailed bought or made, wrapped and sent on December 1rst. 2 day shipping has completely thrown my budget off in the past, so I have vowed to give myself plenty of time this year.

  5. Fred Meyer was having a 70% off sale last week and I found these really cute simple knit gloves for 43¢, so I grabbed them for my daughters stocking. I accidentally left them out and and she saw them. I just told her to act surprised on Dec. 25. Good news is…she liked them. 🙂

  6. Chanukah is early this year (only 7 weeks away). I’ve been saving up my swagbucks and cashing them in for Amazon gift cards. I put little things away all year long for my girls as I find them. While we don’t do a gift every night of Chanukah I do like to give a little something after we light the candles most nights…a book or a small trinket. So I’ve been stashing those away.

  7. Why oh why did you have to remind me that Christmas is right around the corner when I have three birthdays before Halloween? LOL kidding…life does go by fast, so planning ahead is a great thing. I save up all my change throughout the year and when I get a big bag, I take it to the TD bank and then convert it to money and put it into a passbook account. That is my christmas money and most years it is close to being on target. The swagbucks Idea is great as well. Linking up a recipe this week for spicey no-mayo coleslaw. I had a red cabbage, wanted coleslaw and I didn’t think it would appeal to me in mayo, so mark bittman to the rescue. Saved me going out and buying a green one! [email protected]

    1. We have two birthdays and a wedding reception between now and Christmas as well. 😉 I feel ya.

    1. I liked getting memorabilia for my babies, a special released children’s book from that year or some other keepsake.

  8. I stock up on free stuff through out the year and keep a large basket in my bathroom. I use them to give small ‘thinking of you’ gifts when someone surprises me with a gift or if I know of someone in our church who’s having a hard time. I LOVE GIVING GIFTS! And it’s even better when they are free – why shouldnt i feel the love (and who needs 50 tubes of toothpaste 🙂 )

  9. Christmas is something I don’t plan for until we’ve finished harvesting our garden and fall-cleaning our house. But we keep it all fairly low-key, so we don’t have the huge stresses that some families do…we just have the fun. And we emphasize the religious aspects rather than doing, decorating, gifting, and eating, although we do each of those as well. This works well for us.

    Annie Kate

  10. I start buying Christmas presents Dec 26th, and then when I get around to taking my Christmas decorations down… (umm, before Valentine’s day–yes, my tree stayed up THAT long last year! *blush*) I pack them up with my decorations so they’re not taking up space year round.

    I also scour after Christmas sales at Target and Hallmark to get my wrapping paper, cards, decorations, etc for the next year. Then, I keep a detailed list of what I have in mind to get people and watch for sales! You must keep a list, though, or suddenly 1 person has 10 gifts and another has 2. It’s easy to forget what you’ve bought when you keep finding the perfect gift! 🙂

  11. Sorry about the off subject comment, but I think I’m losing my mind. I swear I saw the october freezer cooking post yesterday, and now I can’t find it. Am I wrong?

    1. No, you aren’t. I got the dates mixed up and it posted yesterday instead of today. It will be back up this afternoon. Sorry for the confusion!

  12. We limit our gift giving to 3 gifts from us, plus a small item (sometimes) from the siblings and a stocking. The stocking does have a few trinkets and an apple and orange, a throwback to my husband’s family’s southern tradition. (The budget bonus is that the fruits eat a lot of real estate in the stocking!)

  13. Ok, so I included the Frugal Friday graphic in my post. Now I’m worried. Did I create Helpful Publicity for Frugal Fridays (my goal), or commit an Evil Copyright Violation (not so much)?

  14. Sharing a fun, easy project that you most likely have all the supplies for right now, which means you won’t have to buy anything!

  15. Yay for Swagbucks! I just started in February and what a great way to earn gift cards from Amazon! 🙂
    My post today refers to how I can afford to “splurge” a little because I am frugal most of the time! (We’re celebrating our 18th anniversary this weekend!) 🙂
    Thanks for other great “saving for Christmas” ideas!!!

  16. I’ve been starting to prepare a bit too. I’ve put it off a little later than normal this year though. I do have a few gifts put up already that I picked up on 75% clearance. I have all my gift wrapping supplies together in one place. I always buy whatever gift wrapping supplies I’ll need for the next year at the after Christmas clearance sales. I have a small running gift list in my head but need to put it to paper and get it all planned out. My Amazon gift cards are adding up a bit from my Swagbucks and will definitely help out the budget this year. My goal is always to keep things a simple as possible so we don’t miss the real reason we’re celebrating.
    Thanks, as always, for hosting the linky. I love learning from others.

  17. I read this in the Simple abundance book by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I
    changed up the original concept and use it for saving for a “me” present at Christmas. I find a coat I really don’t wear much and begin to put what ever 5$ bills I have left in my wallet each sunday. By the end of year I have a good amount of cash to spend on me. Then I wait till after Christmas and do some bargain shopping. Or have a indulgent spa day.

  18. I just started swagbucks a couple months ago and have enough for a $5 amazon giftcard. Should I keep cashing out with the $5 giftcards or should I wait until I have enough for a $25-$50 giftcard? I would like to use it for christmas shopping so what do you suggest? By the way can you use more than one of the $5 giftcards at one time?

  19. Love your post! I’m a swagbucks newbie this year. Do you know if you can use more than one of the amazon e-gift cards at a time? It’s fewer points to get the smaller ones than the larger dollar amounts. And where to do you find all your swag rules???

  20. @Becky, WAIT! I’m really losing it today!

    A $5 amazon card is 450 swagbucks

    A $25 amazon card is 3150 swagbucks

    A $50 amazon card is 5900 swagbucks


  21. I don’t know if you’ll want to share this info but here’s my question: We have four kids, ages 4-11. We always struggle with how many gifts per child and how much money. Santa still leaves gifts at our house. So, Santa usually leaves a more expensive item for each child and fills a stocking with $0.25-$3.00 items and small candies. We struggle with how many gifts to give each child from us and what is reasonable to spend. My 10yo daughter is asking for an ipod touch and is planning to just ask Santa!! How do you decide how much to spend per child, Santa gifts and how many gifts per child?

  22. i am so bummed. I have over 3000 swag bucks. i can not redeem them because i forgot to change my e-mail adress before we moved. i honestly did not think about it until a couple of weeks ago when i tried to redeem them. i have contacted them several times with no commeent back

  23. My holiday shopping is nearly finished! I started saving months ago, actually I sey a budget and save every month. Last week I ordered all my gifts from Amazon, with free shipping, for just shy of 300.00. That s for my fiancee and all four kids. I got a year of free Amazon Prime with my student email account through school! I also took advantage of the family getting together for my sister’s wedding last month and took pictures, lots of them! My sisters, nephew,niece are all getting framed photos I took. With frame, and photo purchase, each gift was less than 3.00!