My Frugal Holiday: Christmas Preparation

Want to really enjoy the Holidays this year instead of being lost in a frenzy of preparation that strips all the joy away from the activities you are involved in? Some of these tips can help!My Frugal Holiday


Get Organized

  • Make a list of everyone you want to buy gifts for (I use a spreadsheet so I can keep track of expenses as well.)
  • Write down any gift ideas you have for each person
  • Write down the anticipated expense of each item

Now for the hard part: CAN YOU AFFORD THIS without using your credit card?

If not, then trim names from the list reduce the budgeted amounts until you get a figure you can actually afford!

Christmas Ornaments

Consider an ornament exchange between your adult siblings instead of a gift for each family member-my sister and I have been doing this for years and it now incorporates any grown children that have married. It is a great way to build your ornament collection, commemorate any special event that occurred during the year AND save some money! If you are creative, so much the better as you can make your own!


Start Making Gifts

Begin making gifts-some easy, affordable and desirable gifts include: Hand knitted scarves, hand-crafted jewelry, hand-decorated picture frames with your favorite family photo, coupon books good for a home cooked meal, 4 hours of leaf raking, etc (appropriate for the individual), hand stamped note-cards, always a favorite to receive is a scrapbook (highlighting Christmases past, your family vacations, the first 5 years of your nephews life), etc. Begin baking cookies or loaves of bread (freeze) to give away to teachers, the postman, etc. and to reduce the work load when it is time for cookie exchanges or parties.


We always try to purchase our Christmas tree the weekend following Thanksgiving. Get your tree stand, lights and decorations organized ahead of time so you don't have to run out at the last minute.


We make a ritual out of setting up our Christmas tree and decorations. We do it as a family, carols playing in the background, and there is always a visit from the Christmas Elf (he brings a gift, usually a Christmas Movie, Gingerbread house or craft kit and mysteriously leaves it under the tree while we are upstairs saying the magic words - my children are 1 and 17 and they still participate in this!) Then we enjoy a movie, popcorn or cookies and cocoa.

Begin making your Holiday decorations at this time too-wreaths, ornaments, table arrangements, etc. Use your sale coupons from the local craft stores to lessen the financial burden.

Christmas Cards

Do you love to create hand stamped items? Make your own Christmas cards. I find the time spent crafting is as good as a day at the spa! And people LOVE to get handmade cards.

Take your Christmas PHOTO now (Why can't you wear Santa hats at the Pumpkin Patch?, around the Pool?)

Begin to write your Christmas letter NOW! You can add last minute items right before you print it!

Address Christmas cards while waiting at the bank's drive through, at the doctor or waiting in your school car pool line. If you have some extra time, create address labels in your computer instead! This will save you hours of work in the future.

Purchasing Gifts

Purchase a $10 gift card every pay day to be used as a stocking stuffer or accumulate to purchase a larger ticket item.

Always be on the look out for a special gift for someone-consider Art fairs, the dollar store, even yard-sales can yield a gift. You are only limited by your imagination.

Once purchased, WRITE it on the list you created in item #1. This is critical or you will find yourself with 3 gifts for Aunt Suzy and none for Grandma!

As you purchase gifts store them in one central location so you don't misplace them!

Holiday Baking

Once the season is in full swing, set aside a weekend to bake all your cookies, much less of a mess! And during a hectic season, who doesn't appreciate a little less work now and then.

Decide which cookies you will bake, create a grocery list and begin to stock up on those expensive items (like butter, nuts and candied fruits) NOW!

Make sure you set aside that evening to eat of few of your cookies with those you love best. Relax, enjoy a cup of eggnog or mulled wine while the kids down the hot cocoa.

Purchase any candies you might need for your baking after Halloween!

Gift Wrap

Wrap gifts as you purchase them, engage your children to help wrap.

Use creative wrappings such as cookie tins, tubes, and children's art work as wrapping.

I purchase little clay ornaments as gift tags (4/$100 at the dollar store), write the year and person's name on it and it is an additional "gift".

Set the wrapped gifts aside in a place where prying hands will not undo all your hard work and where the wrapping will not get torn (We use our boat!)

I despise wrapping gifts and would gladly just staple the top of a brown paper bag shut and write your name on it in crayon, but these do not look as pretty under the Christmas tree!


It really is! Children don't enjoy the Holidays any more when the receive 10 gifts as when they receive 5!

FINALLY - Schedule Time To Have Fun

YES, actually write it in your planner. All work and no play, creates STRESS. Watch your favorite Christmas movie with your family, go ice skating, worship together, see a Holiday presentation at your community theatre. The Holidays were meant to be enjoyed by everyone and by a little planning ahead you'll have a less stressful, more blessed Christmas season!

After The season is over

Purchase any items to replace depleted stores of gift-wrap, lights, decorations, craft items and baking needs such as sprinkles.

Take care in putting away your decorations. Label boxes for easier decorating next year. Weed out broken or unwanted items.

Have your kids write thank you notes! It will make them more appreciative and better adults! And who doesn't like to receive a thank you?

Update your addresses from the Christmas Cards you've received so you'll be ready next year. Take a moment to reflect on all the great memories you created!

Source: Years of stress and resentment caused me to re-evaluate and implement these plans.

By Diana from Prospect, KY

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

Nice post. I have also been posting about the holidays. I have been putting aside money every week for the holidays. I have a list and started buying. I am almost done! Happy, happy, happy.

Another lady here suggested buying a gift card for the groceries. Another idea was to start buying some of the things that could keep for the holiday meals. Planning and organization makes for a great holiday.

Don't forget the after holiday clearance. I was also happy, happy, happy to put out my 75-90% off Halloween decorations this year!

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
October 25, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you. Great ideas!

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

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In This Article
Preparing for Christmas
Preparing for Christmas
Better Living Frugal Living My Frugal LifeOctober 13, 2008
Man in a Christmas tree costume.
Making a Christmas Tree Costume
Family Working on Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights
Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights
Boy Dressed as Christmas Elf
Making a Christmas Elf Costume
Cardboard Christmas tree photo from an earlier Thriftyfun project.
Making a Cardboard Christmas Tree
Halloween Ideas!
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