Liz why are you writing an article about Christmas in the middle of August? Well my friends, the biggest tip to making Christmas as stress free and enjoyable as possible is to plan ahead. So here is your warning…
Christmas is coming in 4 months!
Are you saving? Have you been putting money aside every month for this very expensive time of year? If not, you have 4 months to hustle.
This will actually be the first year that we are going to do gifts. What? Yep. In the past, my hubby and I decided that the kids were too young to really know any better so we took advantage of their age and didn’t bother. We would buy a few stocking stuffers from the DollarTree but that is about it. We really value in teaching the kids that they should never expect anything from anybody. So any gift, whether big or small is a blessing.
Now, our kiddos are 7, 5, 4 and almost 3, and honestly, I really would love to do nothing more than to bless them with some gifts. They are remarkable, humble grateful kids and I would like to have some fun with the whole holiday season.
Here are my best tips to making your Christmas stress free, frugal, and fun!
- Save money. We have been gradually setting aside cash to pay for extra food, gifts, offerings etc in our envelope. It isn’t much ($5, $10) but as the year progresses, we will add more. Gifts are not the only thing that gets pricey during the holidays. Usually with family in town, we have a bigger grocery budget. There have been several years where we traveled, so take gas and other travel expenses into consideration when saving up.
- Shop year round. My plan has been to not wait until the commercialism consumes me and shop when I am not stressed out. I think shopping for Christmas year round is way more fun. (The hardest part is to be patient and not give the gifts to my kids sooner.)
- I have been going to garage sales for toys! Yep! And it has been awesome!!! During the summer months, garage sales are booming around here. I have found the cutest wooden toys of only $0.50-$1 each. You would not believe what you can get at a garage sale. I even have seen LeapPads and Leaspers for $2-$3, not to mention books and brand new craft kits. But don’t you feel bad about getting it from a garage sale and not new? NOPE. My kids don’t know and if I told them, they wouldn’t think anything of it. Maybe it’s because they are raised by a frugal mama or maybe because they are kids and just don’t care. Don’t feel bad about buying gifts from garage sales.
- I am going to start looking at the clearance isles of Hobby Lobby, Ross and TJMax for maximum savings. Hobby Lobby has their 40% coupon so I can get some great paint by number kits and things I know my 7 year old would love. I found good quality fidget spinners there for $1.75 each! They were originally $12.
- Purchase practical stocking stuffers. A friend of mine gave me an excellent tip. She buys all her kids’ craft supplies for the year as their stocking stuffers! Brilliant right? My mother-in-law buys socks, toothbrushes, body sprays etc. Much better than spending a bunch of money on random toys. (That stuff gets pricey quick-especially with 4 kids.) My mom always gave us an apple, orange and shelled nuts when I was growing up. I have found memories cracking open the nuts as a child.
- Play white elephant. My side of the family decided a few years ago to forgo the expensive gift exchange and only purchase gifts for the kids. We instead bring a $10 gift and play white elephant (some call it Dirty Santa) among the adults. It is one of my favorite games. I love to see the random gifts. Hilarious!
- Play plastic wrap ball game. We started playing this game with all the adults at my in-laws house a couple years ago. It is way too much fun. We have everyone bring random gifts that cost about $5 total. DollarTree stuff. And my in-laws usually put a $20 in the middle of the ball. If you like excitement and competition, play this game.
- Make ornaments. I have my kids make ornaments for our tree every year. We have a ton of fun making them and I throw them away after the holidays. I take pictures of them making them and that is memory saving enough for me. No need to store Christmas ornaments and decorations all year round.
- Check out Groupon for great gifts and holiday activities!
- You will be surprised what you can find on Craigslist or Ebay. Just like garage sales, you can truly find some awesome savings. Any time I want to purchase something, I always look on all these money saving sites first.
Do you have any Christmas saving tips? Holiday hacks? Please share! I am still brainstorming ideas.