See what I did there, with the title, go on, sing it, you know you want too :)
Ok, I know it’s too early to be talking Christmas, let alone singing Christmas Carols, I mean Advent is still weeks away and you Americans haven’t even had Thanksgiving. I am certainly not one to turn my Christmas lights on right after Halloween (we have several neighbours who do this!), but, in order to save money on Christmas, you need to start thinking about things early, so here are my top tips to save some money this Christmas:
Plan ahead – Shop the after Christmas sales, for items for next year. I buy all my wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, ribbon and tags AFTER Christmas, for the following year. You’ll get them for at least 70% off, and you know you’ll be celebrating again next year, so stock up and save big! Did your tree or front porch look a little empty? Buy decorations after Christmas; ornaments and lights, plus outdoor Christmas décor all goes on sale too.
Make a list, and check it twice – Making a list isn’t just for St. Nick! This way you won’t forget anyone (family, friends, teachers, the crossing guard, there so are many special people to include!) and make sure you stick to the list too! Just like when grocery shopping, only buy what you planned to buy.
Set a budget – We don’t set out a flat amount for each Christmas, but we usually spend around the same amount each year for our extended family. As our kids get older, we know the toys are going to get fancier (from trucks and dolls to video games and the latest gadgets), and the cost will go up. And it seems each year my husband and I spend a different amount on each other; we used to set a budget, but he never sticks too it, not that I am really complaining thought :).
Shop online – It’s super convenient and can be even cheaper than shopping in stores. Often stores offer exclusive online sales, and coupon codes. If you made a list previously, you can buy everything all at once and avoid paying for shipping too (each year, I place a large Old Navy and Gap order when they have a great sale on that coincides with a 30% off coupon code). If you do shop online, sign up for Swagbucks or eBates, where you will earn money or “bucks” from shopping online, and you can put that towards more Christmas shopping.
Secret Santa – If you have a very large family, how about starting a Secret Santa gift exchange. Instead of buying a smaller gift for everyone, you can spend a little bit more and just buy a gift for one family member, you will save lots of money, and you can put more thought into that one special gift for that someone special.
Make it – Do you have a talent? Knitting, baking, sewing? These gifts require time but not much money. There is still time to make things, so don’t think you had to start knitting loads of scarves in the summer! Baking up some cookies or making candy is a great little gift for neighbours and teachers, especially if you get the kids to help out.
Daily deal sites – If you prefer to buy only name brand items, sign up for daily deal sites like Zulily, Teambuy, Baby and Kid Steals and Groupon. These places offer great deals on name brand clothing and toys and even gadgets, as well as experiences and trips. Have a person that is hard to shop for? Get a great deal on a spa visit, cooking lessons, or a night on the town. Or maybe you are feeling stressed and need a weekend away after Christmas, you’ll get a great deal there too. Sign up for their emails so you get the deals right away.
Never pay full price – It will go on sale, trust me. And if you start watching early enough in the year, you may get that item for super cheap. I realize this is hard to do, especially with kids that might change their mind on that “must have” toy of the season, but try to never pay full price. And if you can’t find it on sale, at the very least, shop around for the best “regular” price.
I hope these tips help you save some money this Christmas season. I also pray that you don’t get lost in all the shopping to remember the real reason for the season. Click here for a post on keeping Christ in Christmas.