Amy Clark

Holiday Bling Without a Bling Budget

I heart Christmas. It is my absolute favorite time of year. I fear that my children are going to grow up hating Christmas because their mother drove them crazy with Christmas extravaganzas. Sadly, I am willing to forgo their enthusiasm in their later years to really make Christmas special for them now.

When I say that I love Christmas though, I do not mean that I go crazy buying presents. Presents do not equal the fun part of Christmas for me. Frankly, presents equal more stuff that I need to find a home for and we have a ton of things already that still haven’t found their proper homes.

No, the fun part of Christmas for me is the Christmas music, the decorating of the tree, making homemade goodies for gifts, reading Christmas stories, and watching the classic Christmas shows on television.

Other people do expect some gifts though so I do give in on the gift thing. The frugal gal in me really shines around the holidays and I have gotten some great deals under our tree. Here are a few tips for keeping the bling in your holiday without completing ruining your budget.

1. Start buying after the holidays. I get great deals on my gift wrap, Christmas gift bags, holiday ribbon, cards, and stocking stuffers after the season is over. These are those little things that don’t seem to ever make into the budget factor. Sure, you got a great deal on a gift, but if it costs you three dollars to make it look presentable…well, is it still a good deal?

2. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. We opted out of a holiday gift exchange when the price tag became too much of a burden our family. If you don’t feel good about giving a gift, then you probably shouldn’t give it. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground if you don’t feel comfortable with the dollar amount.

3. If you know that others in your family are struggling to meet ends meet, agree to not give gifts or do something in lieu of a gift. For example, this year my sister and I agreed that the adults in our family would not be exchanging gifts and only the kids would be receiving the goodies. That alleviated the financial burden of buying two gifts for each of our families. For birthdays, which we both have right around the holidays, we are exchanging babysitting instead of gifts. A night away with just my hubby…now that gift is priceless!

4. Be sure to hit your dollar store…and hit it often! You can get some great gifts there. I got beautiful hardbound books for gifts, amazing acid-free photo albums, and stocking stuffers galore at our dollar store. Dollar sections at Target & Michael’s can also host a goldmine of great gifts for you that are much easier on your wallet.

5. Buy gifts periodically throughout the year so you don’t feel that financial crunch when December comes around. I visit the clearance sections in the stores all year round. I put these gifts in a Rubbermaid tote and just add to it as I come across things. By December, I have almost everything I need and I can say, “Ah” instead of “Ouch!”

6. When your children are small, they are not going to care if they are the first recipient of their toys or not. Thrift shops can be your best friend and your children will love it just as much as they would have if you bought it at the “real” store. Enjoy it before they figure it out!

7. Homemade goodies are the way to anyone’s heart. Make things that are quick and easy , but still have that homemade flair in them. I buy Christmas tins from our Goodwill and fill them with goodies for people. The tins cost a quarter a piece and I try and find recipes that don’t cost a lot to make or take a lot of baking time.

8. Restaurant.com gift certificates. Need I say more? These have made my giving so much easier. Right now they are running a coupon code (Code#: 73515. This coupon code expires on DECEMBER 10th) for fifty percent off the already low price on these. I will be writing a review of these awesome gift certificates later this week. I have used them, they are for real, and they make great gifts!

However much you choose to give, remember to give only what you can afford. Who wants to pay for Christmas for an entire year? Worse yet, who wants to still be paying on Christmas when the next Christmas rolls around? Give, but give accordingly.

Feel free to share how you keep the costs down on your holiday spending!

Published December 04, 2006 by:

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of MomAdvice.com. You can read all about her here.

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