Last Updated on July 16, 2024

Spending at Christmas can get out of control quickly. I’ve never kept track of everything I spend, but I’m sure I’d faint if I tallied it all up. Gifts for teachers, friends, pets, children, parents, extended family, white elephant parties, co-workers … Do you feel overwhelmed already? I do, and I struggle with maintaining the joyful Christmas spirit when faced with such a daunting Christmas list.

So, I listen when people talk about saving money during this season while still maintaining a giving spirit. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned with you all.

Ideas to avoid Christmas debt

  1. The three wise men system: My sister decided to implement this to reduce the amount of presents her children received during the season. She talked to her family about Jesus’ three gifts from the three wise men. Sticking with the “What Would Jesus Do” mentality, she suggested three gifts (not all big, either) was plenty for family giving.
  2. Re-gifting: One friend had her two boys many years apart. So, when her eldest grew out of a toy, she’d put it back in its box and store it in the attic until her younger son was ready for it. She’d then give it to him for Christmas. He loved those toys as much as he would have if she’d bought them new.
  3. Toy exchange: One church we went to used to have a large clothes exchange. Members brought clothes their kids had grown out of and then chose new clothes for their kids. Everybody wins. Why not try it with toys?
  4. Layaway: My mother did this for us. It’s coming back to a lot of stores these days. Check it out. You can do your shopping early and not wind up with debt.
  5. Assigned gifting: I never had much family around growing up, so a huge Christmas celebration was a foreign concept until I married. My husband’s family is huge and growing, so the gift list became overwhelming for us all. We decided to draw names and put a price limit on the gifts. The celebration is just as fun, and the gift-giving just as meaningful.
  6. Go together: Teacher and office gifts are another source of budget busters. Last year, one of our room mothers suggested my daughter’s kindergarten class go together on a teacher gift card. So, we all contributed a few dollars and the teacher wound up with a wonderful gift card.
  7. Start Early: One budget-savvy friend starts her shopping in August. That way she spreads her spending over several months and the stores don’t sell out of the gifts.
  8. Make a list and stick to it: I never manage this and then wind up with three gifts for the same person.
  9. Homemade gifts: I bought a small recipe book years ago for jar mixes. You layer dry ingredients in a large jar for things like brownies, cookies, or soups. It’s cute and inexpensive. Save your pasta sauce jars throughout the year. Also, I love to make sea salt scrubs. Save your jelly and salsa jars. This costs very little, but is a fabulous gift.
  10. Keep it Simple: It’s the thought that counts.

These are just a few ideas I’ve managed to glean. If you have more, please share them with us!

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