The countdown for Christmas is well and truly on. Are you feeling more frantic than festive because of the inevitable high price tag?
If so, you are definitely not alone.
With the cost of living rising fast, just keeping your head above water with everyday spending is a challenge. Add to that the crazy cost of Christmas and the joy can fast drain out of this special time of year.
We don’t want that to happen to you.
The first thing you need to do is stop, take a few deeps breaths, then make a plan. Because forward-thinking for this celebratory season will not only save you money, but will make Christmas more enjoyable for you and your family.
We’ve put together a list of cheap Christmas ideas to get you into the spirit, whilst keeping your purse strings intact. They range from the build up to Christmas, right through to the big day itself. We want you to come through Christmas smiling and still have money left for some savvy shopping at the Boxing Day sales.
11 Ideas for a cheap yet cheerful Christmas
1. Cut down on Santa Photos
You can line up for hours and pay a small fortune for a photo with the big guy.
Yes, those moments are precious and ones you will cherish.
However, there are many stores and shopping centres which will let your child meet Santa for free, without buying an extortionately priced photo package. And, many will even let you snap your own photo with your phone.
2. Do a Secret Santa
One of the absolute best cheap Christmas ideas is setting up a Secret Santa (also know as a Kris Kringle).
No longer just for workplaces, many families are doing Secret Santa when times are tight. Instead of having to buy everyone (including Aunt Fiona and Brother-in Law Gary) a $50 gift, you instead give a more thoughtful and valuable present to just one person. This can potentially save you hundreds of dollars and save considerable time trawling the shops or the internet for Christmas presents.
Keep it festive but formal so everyone know who they are buying for, with these cute Secret Santa Exchange Cards.
Further reading: 20 Secret Santa gift ideas for under $50.
Source: Etsy AU
3. Reframe Christmas lunch
Christmas lunch can work out super expensive as we get carried away buying too much and treating ourselves to the best of everything “because it’s Christmas”.
Let’s face it, kids and adults alike, are guilty of snacking all of Christmas Day, starting with chocolates from the stocking for breakfast. For this reason, ask yourself whether you need to provide a banquet style lunch, or not? Perhaps a smaller, cheaper affair will suffice.
If like many, you are sharing lunch with friends and family, make sure you share the costs too. Either arrange for everyone to bring a dish or divide the cost so no one is out of pocket due to a grass-fed, organic turkey and Christmas pudding with real gold-dust sprinkled on top.
4. Be smart with decorations
If you’re reading this, then you probably have children and they are masters at creating, especially at Christmas. Our Christmas tree has half store bought decorations and half handmade paper craft. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Did you know you can make a wreath out of plastic bags and a coat hanger? Well, apparently you can! In fact, pretty much all decorations can be hand-made instead of shop brought, and all can be reused year after year.
When you take down your decorations, store them carefully in storage box and pack away in dry place, ready for next Christmas.
Purchasing a new set of decorations each year is wasteful on your wallet and on the environment.
5. Find free festive entertainment
Why pay for entertainment when you can get it for free … with a little forward planning.
Find out what streets in your area have the best Christmas lights and arrange a few happy hours admiring them … don’t forget the mince pies and eggnog for your travels. Also, comb the local paper and search online for free Christmas events in your area. There is usually plenty on offer such as Christmas markets, carol singing and seasonal shows.
6. Make something
A homemade gift is both thoughtful and priceless .. instead of pricey.
Everyone appreciates a Christmas food gift, so bake those cookies or pop that popcorn.
The key is in presentation so use beautiful jars, baskets, ribbons or mugs to package the present. You can even design vouchers for babysitting, dishwashing, driving or other services you could offer your friends or family.
KEEP THE COST OF CHRISTMAS DOWN
7. Lay-by during the sales and shop smart
I don’t think I could get through Christmas without pre-planning, lay-buy and online specials.
Big online stores offer excellent value all year round, but most especially at Christmas. Save them in your browser and keep an eye out for sales so you hit “buy” when the price drops on the items you want. High street stores are just as helpful, offering year-round sales and lay-by services so you can purchase at sale price and pay off before Christmas.
8. Buy one big family gift and practical items
When you have multiple children the prospect of being Santa can be daunting.
Investing in one quality item for the family to share and smaller, more practical items is a good option. Pair a trampoline, cubby or Playstation for all the kids with personalised smaller gifts for each, such as books, lunch boxes and socks.
Giving practical items at Christmas saves you money as you would have had to buy them anyway, passing them off as Christmas gifts is genius!
9. Donate for Christmas
Teach your children a valuable lesson and help them donate something small to ‘kids who have nothing’.
This is an easy, wallet friendly way to get into the Christmas spirit, which should always be about kindness and giving and not how much loot they can score.
A great habit to get your children into while they are young.
10. Start a (cheap) tradition
Every year my kids and I choose one new decoration each for the tree. On Christmas Eve we watch a movie and put out carrots for the reindeer and bake cookies for Santa. These are our Christmas traditions.
Creating your own (cheap) family traditions will spread the festive cheer and will be something your children will always remember.
Not everything we do at Christmas needs to cost the earth. Meaningful time spent together is the most valuable gift of all.
11. Short of cash?
If you are really struggling to stretch your Christmas budget there are lots of other ways to make money.
Try selling unwanted goods on eBay, Facebook groups or Gumtree. For those who are willing to do a little extra work, Airtasker has odd jobs for pocket money.
If you start planning and saving early, you have more time to get ahead so you can enjoy the build up to Christmas as much as your kids do.