While growing up, my family did not have a lot of money. My parents budgeted and saved and spent wisely, but holidays like Christmas were still hard for them. There were three of us kids and some years my parents could only afford to spend $50. per child and other times it was $100. per child. When I look back I don’t remember, how much my parents didn’t spend, I only remember the good times we had. Things like putting up and decorating our fake 6-foot Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music, and driving around with the family looking at Christmas lights every year.
Now that I am grown up and have my own family, I realize that it’s ok if we don’t have a lot of money to spend on Christmas. With my son’s special needs, and both of our health problems and more, our Christmas this year will be very tight. That’s why I decided to put together this list! I want to help other families know that it’s not all about the gifts you can or can’t get for your children or family members, it’s about WHY we are celebrating and the memories we make each year.
As a young family we don’t have tons of extra money to spend on Christmas. I start planning and budgeting months in advance so that we can buy gifts for our families.
I think it is important to remember that not having a lot of money at Christmas time doesn’t mean that Christmas can’t be fun and exciting for every one! Your kids will follow YOUR lead, so if you are stressed and upset, then they will remember Christmas that way, even if you get them 100’s of gifts! But if you are joyful, excited and a bit creative they will remember making happy memories as a family regardless of what gifts you get for them!
There are very few specific presents that I remember receiving as a child, but I DO remember our family times together. Honestly, the gifts I remember most, are the ones that are connected to later memories with my family!
Now that I have my own family, we buy a few low key gifts for each child (most are purchased 2nd hand) and then I try to do lots of crafts and other family traditions each year to make this time of year special and memorable! I have special toys hidden away with our Christmas decorations that only get pulled out at Christmastime, and we try to do a lot of fun things together as a family. Gifts or no gifts, extra money or no, Christmas can be a thrilling time of year celebrating the birth of Christ and celebrating the gift of family. It just takes a bit of creativity (or a handy list like this one!) and the willingness to give it a go!
Here’s to a memory-filled Christmas!!!
**Looking for more low budget ideas? Check out Paula’s Christmas on a Budget Pinterest Board!**
27+ Ideas for a Low Budget Christmas
1. Shop consignment stores or sites like Craigslist for good quality used toys.
2. Hand-write heartfelt letters to your spouse and other family members instead of purchasing gifts. Frame them for a little extra something!
3. Hide a bunch of small gifts (like gum, or stickers) around the house and send each child on a personal scavenger hunt for their gifts.
4. Send your Christmas letter and photo via email instead of regular mail.
5. Walk/drive around looking at Christmas lights. Mini-Van Express Tickets
6. Go on a cheap Christmas date. 10 Holiday Date Ideas.
8. Shop the sales. 10 Sites You Should Know for Christmas Deals
9. No space or money for a tree? Make one of these trees instead and make MEMORIES! Family Tree, Alternative Christmas Trees, Christmas Felt Tree, Instead of Gingerbread Houses Make Gingerbread Trees, Tabletop Knitting Needle Ornament Tree, String Christmas Tree, Paper Plate Christmas Trees, Kid-Friendly Christmas Tree and Cupcake Liner Christmas Trees.
13. Decorate your tree with items you already have in your house. Use items like cranberries and popcorn (strung on thread and hung like garland).
14. Give a gratitude journal/notebook in which you document the multiple reasons you are grateful for that special person in your life as a gift. The absolute Best Christmas Gift Idea Ever
15. Make and give yummy Christmas desserts as gifts instead of buying gifts. One reader says, “This year I’m giving all my friends homemade bread. I can make it early, freeze it, then give it. I found some super cheap green bags to put it in then all I need to do is add a bow and it’s done.” Here are just a few recipes to get you started: Mint Chocolate Bark, Peppermint Bark, Peppermint Pretzel Kisses, Tis the Season for Yummy Desserts, Christmas Cookies, Christmas Tree Brownies, and Chocolate Dipped Candy Canes.
16. Have a homemade Christmas, where everything is homemade. How to Plan a Homemade Christmas
17. Make homemade gifts instead of buying them. Handmade Gifts for the Kids
18. Make homemade decorations instead of buying them. Here are a few examples: Christmas Glitter Branches, Homemade Noel Letters, DIY Pine Cone Garland, 20 DIY Christmas Decor Ideas, Hobby Lobby Letter Wrapped in Garland, Christmas Decorating with Kitchen Items, Craft Stick Snowflakes, How to Make a Rag Wreath, Ornament Wreath, Snowflake Frames, DIY Ruffle Tree Skirt and Toilet Paper Roll Snowflakes.
19. Make Homemade ornaments instead of buying them. 130 Homemade Ornaments, 25 Christmas Ornaments to Make, Salt Dough Ornaments, Christmas Thumbprint Tree Ornament and Personalized Scrabble Ornaments.
20. Save on your electric bill by decorating with ribbons and/or tinsel etc. and NOT lights on the house or tree.
21. Do “Christmas Pajamas” pictures instead of pictures in fancy clothing to save money on outfits.
22. Use fruit as stocking stuffers instead of expensive candy.
23. Sell old toys/clothes to a local consignment store for extra cash for new gifts!
24. Go Christmas caroling as a family and make memories.
25. Do something for others: take Christmas cookies to the elderly in a nursing home.
27. Instead of buying a ton of gifts have the family just to do stocking stuffers and see how many cheap gifts you can fit into each stocking! Fun Ideas for Your Hubby’s Stocking and 50 Cheap Stocking Stuffer Ideas.
What do YOU do to save money or to have a low budget Christmas?