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How to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

It's not just about buying less during the holiday season; it's about buying smarter.


  • Step 1: Set a budget Set an overall gift budget and use it to determine how much you can spend on each person on your list. Make sure you stick to it!
  • TIP: Consider a family agreement to buy gifts for the children only.
  • Step 2: Use the internet Search for gifts on eBay, Craigslist, and sites that offer discontinued or overstock items. Use price comparison web sites to ensure you're getting the best deal, and look for rebates.
  • Step 3: Buy secondhand Check out thrift shops, secondhand stores, and pawn shops – the latter in particular offer great savings on jewelry, watches, and electronics.
  • Step 4: Learn how to haggle Learn how to haggle. You can often get a discount just by asking for it, especially if it's a small store, you're a good customer, and you offer to pay in cash. Just remember to be polite and ask discreetly.
  • TIP: Always ask salespeople if there are any coupons, promotions, or discounts available.
  • Step 5: Make it yourself Bake holiday treats from scratch to reduce costs, and consider giving some of them as gifts. Start scanning supermarket flyers a few weeks in advance for sales on baking supplies so you can stock up when prices are low.
  • TIP: Butter stays good in the freezer for several months.
  • Step 6: Save on decorations Find ways to save on decorations. If you buy a real Christmas tree, make a wreath out of trimmings. Fill colorful bowls and vases with edibles, like fruit and nuts. Turn stemware upside down and put votive candles on the base for an unusual candleholder, or float votives in the glasses right side up.
  • Step 7: Trim your card list Trim your holiday card list by only sending greetings to people you rarely see. Then shop the post-Christmas sales to stock up for next year!
  • FACT: The average American family spends over $1,000 on Christmas.

You Will Need

  • A budget
  • A gift list
  • Shopping web sites
  • Haggling skills
  • Secondhand purchases
  • Supermarket flyers

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