Christmas can be tricky when it comes to balancing finances. You want to make your home and family feel that holiday spirit...which can be overwhelming, especially if you are trying to stick to a budget.
Luckily, you can have a fabulous Christmas without buying an expensive wreath to hang on your door, or matching your neighbor's holiday display. All you need is to find those little loopholes that give your budget a break without sacrificing Christmas glee and cheer.
Here are ways to have a beautiful holiday on a budget:
1. Set the budget
Make this budget well before November and December, so you know exactly how much you feel comfortable spending this holiday season. You can choose to set aside a separate savings account to contribute to over the months, or pull out a specific amount of cash to use once you start shopping.
My family usually sets out a 5-gallon water jug at the beginning of the year. Over the months, we all put our loose change inside. The money in the jug then becomes our budget for that Christmas.
2. Make your ornaments
Instead of buying new ornaments for your tree, make them yourself! You can cut out intricate paper snowflakes to string around the tree and bake gingerbread men to hang from the branches.
3. Paper plate the meal
Personally, my family always has a huge Christmas morning breakfast while others have a large dinner in the evening. Regardless of when you eat that day keep in mind that eating off plastic plates and silverware will save you money and time. There's no need to buy expensive place settings and dishes just for one meal.
4. Write heartfelt letters
Filling stockings can be a struggle (and an easy way to spend money you don't have); Some families buy little trinkets or fill them with candies for the kids to snack on but a great way to save would be to fill the stocking with heartfelt memories and handwritten letters. Instead of gadgets that will break or get lost, these letters will remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.
5. Listen to the three wise men
Keep your Christmas simple by only buying each family member three gifts. If three gifts were good enough for the Christ child, then three is just fine for the little ones. There is no need to splurge or buy a ridiculous amount of presents. Remember the reason behind Christmas by honoring the three wise men.
Use what you already have to decorate your home. Maybe your evergreen tree in the yard could use a trim...meaning you have free tree boughs to place in bowls around the house. Adding bright red cranberries to a string of popcorn is another festive and inexpensive decoration. Tie bright red bows around the house to bring a festive cheer without spending very much. Light some candles and you are set.
Don't go out and spend hundreds on gifts. There are dozens of simple and heartfelt ones you can make at home for a fraction of the cost. Make a CD full of songs that you know your spouse will love or create a mason jar snow globe for the kids. These simple gifts that you can make yourself are an inexpensive way to show someone how much you love them.
8. Rethink the menu
You don't always need to buy expensive ingredients to have a lovely home cooked meal. Decide on making a family favorite - whether that is pancakes or a yummy soup. The point of a Christmas dinner is not the food you eat; it's about who you are eating with.
9. Shop smart
Follow your favorite stores on Instagram to get deals on their merchandise, or decide to bundle presents on Groupon. Plan on adding a section of your budget for after Christmas shopping, too. The day after this holiday, so many stores put everything Christmas on clearance. Do your Christmas shopping now for the next year and save.
10. Fake it till you make it
Think about buying a fake tree to reuse year after year. That way, your only cost when it comes to the tree is the pine candle you purchase to give your house that holiday scent. Buy the tree after Christmas to get a great deal.
Cutting back is never easy, but that doesn't mean you have to go without an amazing Christmas if you are sticking to a budget.
Liset was raised in Panama but now calls Florida home. She graduated in communications and is now working towards her master's degree. Liset is very outspoken and outgoing. She enjoys anything that involves the ocean, soccer or dancing.