A Thrifty Christmas
Is a Stress-Free Christmas

Don't miss all the Free Christmas Stuff in the Newest Links.

The very first thing to remember when preparing for a Thrifty Christmas is - Don't allow the Christmas preparations to become a burden! If you are not enjoying the Christmas season and all the preparations for it, take a step back and take a good look at all the things you are doing.

Are there things that could be eliminated from your list??

Are there things you could do in advance to take some of the pressure off??

Are there some things that others could do for you?

Whittle your list to include only those things that you enjoy doing and drop or delegate the rest to others.

Sounds easy - huh?

It may not be that easy, but try to get your preparations down to a more managable list.

If you have children, you probably will feel a need to make sure Santa gets their requests and fills those stockings, but perhaps you and the partner could agree to forgo gifts for each other.

Maybe you have always decorated the outside of the house, but now all of your children are grown and you no longer have the help. So don't decorate the outside. But your children come home for Christmas and they would be disappointed? - If they live closeby - invite them over to help put up the outside decorations (and invite them back to help get them down on the other end).

If your children don't live nearby, explain to them that you can no longer fit the outside decorating into your schedule and you would rather enjoy the holidays than stress out about what you can't accomplish.

Then sit back and do just that - Enjoy your holidays!

A thrifty Christmas is as much about conserving energy as time.

Try putting up your decorations a section or room at a time. Perhaps decorate the tree one day and the rest of that room the next day. Next, decorate the mantle or kitchen another day. Break it into more managable pieces.

If you love to do the holiday baking, but not the holiday meal, plan the meal at someone elses house and take a basket or tin full of your baked treats.

The bottom line - find ways to cut back on the tasks you are cramming into your holiday season, and do those things you enjoy.

Here is a great site for Thrifty Christmas ideas.

Thrifty Christmas Tip #1 - Cheap Stocking Stuffers are a parents dilemma. You want to put something fun in the stocking, but you've already spent so much on the gifts, what do you do?

Not to worry - here are some thrifty stocking stuffer ideas.

Stick to a theme and get some small items that go with the theme. For example a movie theme like The Incredible Hulk or Cinderella. Some stocking stuffers could be stickers, a pair of socks, lip balm, and even candy. I suggest shopping at the dollar stores or one of the big box discount stores for these items.

You could also check online for deals. Click here for some links to inexpensive shopping sites.

Your theme could also be whatever your child is interested in - a little girl who likes dress up would enjoy some costume jewelry, a feather boa, a small mirror, etc. A little boy who likes building will enjoy a balsa wood flying airplane kit or a paper airplane book, or a small car model kit. Think about what your child likes most. If they like cooking, give them some cooking items: measuring spoons, a book of recipes, a cookie mix or hot chocolate mix, etc.

Another inexpensive way to stuff those stockings is to stuff them with fruit and peanuts and put in only one small present at the top. Your children will only expect what you get them used to, so don't get them used to Santa going overboard. Make the holidays more about enjoying the day than comparing the gifts.

Yet another cheap stocking stuffer is a coupon book. Make up a book of fun things that your child can "cash in" whenever they want. Some examples are: One hour of play with Mom (or Dad), One cookie even if it is dinner time, One afternoon at the mall (to spend their Christmas money), One day at the park/beach with a picnic lunch. You can make the coupons for whatever you want, but remember your children really want time with you more than anything else.

How about an idea for stocking stuffers for the college bound child. Make up a booklet of all the recipes you made on a regular basis for them when they were growing up. They will appreciate this a lot in the coming years. If you didn't cook much, what about a Real-Life instruction booklet. Write up some suggestions on how to find their first apartment/flat/house, what to look for, how to furnish it, the bills they will need to ask about (heating, water, etc). Include some personal stories about your first place. They will love this gift and it didn't cost you a thing.

An idea for any age - Make up a small picture book of the child. Include at least one picture from each year and more if they are very young.

Thrifty Christmas Tree

Thrifty Christmas Tip #2 - Decorating - for Christmas means different things to different people. Some decorate the whole house - inside and out - while some decorate one room or only the tree. Whatever your preference is, there are ways to save money.

Thrifty Banister Decorating

Decorating doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive to look beautiful. Wrapping a banister in garland and adding bows or berries is one thrifty way to add some Christmas decor. Another way is to mix some red beads in and around some candles and candle holders.

Garlands and Bulbs

Pine Cones and Berries
Here are pictures of some more thrifty Christmas decorating ideas using just ornaments, garland, bows, pinecones, and even a plate of cookies.

Decorate With Cookies

Decorate With Simplicity
The important thing is to use what you have a dress it up with either garland, ribbon or some other Christmasy items.

Try taking a variety of Christmas knick-knacks and placing them on a shelf. Then weave some garland around them and even if they don't match at all, it will look great - and festive. Be creative, but use what you have on hand to start with.

Another very inexpensive decorating idea is stringing your own popcorn to use as garlands on the tree and around the house. This is a tricky process because the popcorn tends to break as you push the needle through, but it is worth the effort. Another good look is a popcorn/cranberry garland. Just string them every other one. Granted it takes a little time, but again it is well worth the effort.

Use Your Own Holiday Colors
Remember when I said to be creative? - well if your decorations are another color instead of the traditional reds and greens, try stringing blueberries or some other berry to match your color scheme.

For more ideas, here is a site with 10 Christmas Decorating Ideas.

Above all - HAVE FUN!
When you aren't having fun, it's time to stop.

Thrifty Christmas Tip #3 - Food for the holiday meal can really add up fast! So share the menu and have everyone bring something. The real key to this idea is to make sure you have a good list of what everyone is used to having at these meals and make sure someone is bringing each item. If your family is used to having appetizers, salad, ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean cassarole, rolls, and pecan pie with whipped cream, and you have 4 family groups coming, divide up those items and you provide the rest. You may still end up making more than one item, but that's better and cheaper than the whole meal. If you are the one supplying your house for the holiday meal, don't feel guilty about having each family bring something. Most people want to pitch in, and you are providing the house and all the planning.

Thrifty Christmas Tip #4 - Gifts are usually the most expensive part of Christmas. Gone are the days when we actually needed things and could make gifts for each other that were truly needed. In today's world if we need something, we usually go purchase it ourselves. We don't generally put it on a Christmas wish list and hope someone buys it for us. So getting gifts for each other is a true challenge. How many times have you bought a gift for a child only to have them never play with it or even worse, exclaim how much they don't like it? So I will not get too much into telling you what gifts to buy or how to pick them out, but I will go over the least expensive way to take care of your gift purchases - plan ahead.

  • First - do not go to the stores or online without a list of every person you are buying for. On this list you will have each person's name and next to their name an idea of what you want to get them. You won't know what you are going to get some of the people on your list, so just write their name until you get an idea or purchase a gift. Once you purchase a gift for someone on your list - write down the gift next to their name and put a check mark next to it. The checkmark lets you know you have already purchased the gift for that person.

  • Second - set a budget. Make it a reasonable budget because again the people on your list likely don't need a whole lot, so don't go broke or in debt trying to buy them the perfect gift.

  • Third - do not go anywhere for the entire year without your list. The reason you will always need this list with you is because as you buy a gift, you will write it on the list next to the name of the person you bought it for and you will put a checkmark next to each person you have already taken care of.

  • Fourth - Start early - If you can get to the stores the day after Christmas with your list of names for next year - do it! The only drawback of shopping so far in advance is that the companies will come out with new toys, movies and items during the year that aren't even on the market yet. Some of those new items will be what your children will ask Santa to bring. This is fine because you aren't actually shopping for Santa gifts this early. But you can still get a lot of your list taken care of at very discounted prices.

Now that you have some ideas on how to gift shop here are some places to look for some deals.

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