How to Have a Frugal Christmas

If you want to spend less this holiday season, while still creating amazing memories, then check out my tips for how to have a frugal Christmas without being a grinch!

GIngerbread man cookie with cookie stars and garland sitting on a wooden cutting board.

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How to Have a Frugal Christmas

With all of the events, parties, shopping and baking that goes on this time of the year, it can really get to be a burden on the wallet.

Things really do add up quickly at Christmas and if you don’t plan ahead you may find yourself with not enough resources to celebrate in the way that you desire, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I really do love this time of year and we try to celebrate without spending a whole lot of money. Today, I’m going to share with you all of my best tips for how to have a frugal Christmas and holiday season.

It requires a little forethought, planning and determination, but you really can have a beautiful holiday season full of meaning and memory making without breaking the bank. I hope these tips inspire you to have a slow and simple holiday that is focused on the things that are the most important to you.

Create a Christmas Budget

In order to have a low-stress, debt-free Christmas, I would highly suggest adding up what you spend each season on gifts, baking, supplies, etc. and dividing that by 12 which will give you the amount you should be setting aside each month throughout the year. It’s too late in the year to be doing that at this point, but you can still add up what you spend this year to give you a good estimate for next season.

If you are starting from scratch at this point in the year, it’s a wise practice to sit down and make a list of all of the expenses you have during the holidays. This includes everything from travel to wrapping paper. Figure out how much extra that you will have to spend in the next month or two and divide it out amongst each category. You may have to “borrow” from your regular monthly budget to make it work.

For instance, can you fit the extra baking supplies into your regular grocery budget? Can you cut back on extra spending in order to afford gifts or holiday outfits? A budget is just a plan for your money. The holidays require extra spending of us, so it’s wise to sit down and plan that spending out. Tell your money where to go instead of it telling you. You are in control of how your money is spent and even if you have a low income, where there is a will, there is generally a way to make it happen.

Do Secret Santa to Limit Gifts

Christmas gifts are probably the biggest expense during the holidays, but do you have to buy a gift for every single person that you know, including the mail man? I think not.

Most people in this day and age that we live in, have enough toys, clothes and gadgets, so why not pare down on the gift giving and do a secret santa with your extended or even immediate family members? The important thing is being together and sharing memories, not receiving gifts, right?

Also, don’t forget to put an agreed upon monetary limit on what you spend for each family member.

A Christmas wreath, pine cones and red ribbon sitting on wood.

Stock Up on Food Deals

This time of year is great for scoring some amazing grocery deals and really building your food stockpile. Most grocery stores have sales on things like baking supplies, butter (freezes well), ham, turkey, stuffing mix, canned veggies, etc. throughout Nov. and Dec.

These things normally don’t go on sale again for six months (around Easter) so buy enough to last you that long and you will save a TON. Also, if you can pair the sales with coupons and/or cash rebates using a money saving app such as, IBOTTA you can get some really amazing deals!

Making the most of the food sales this time of the year ensures that you have what you need for holiday baking and entertaining, while still sticking to your budget.

Be sure to check out my list of 24 Grocery Items to Stockpile During Holiday Sales for more tips and information.

Shop Dollar or Discount Stores

Dollar and discount stores can be great for scoring deals on gift wrap, Christmas cards, candles, ribbon, candies, Christmas decor, freezer containers and stocking stuffers. If you’re on a tight budget, then these places can be a lifesaver during the holiday season. Be sure to note quality and sizes and compare to other stores to make sure that you’re getting a deal before purchasing.

Shop Thrift Stores

Don’t be afraid to look for decorations, gift wrap, cards or even gently used or like new gifts at the thrift store. Often times you can even find brand new items with the tag still on them for a fraction of the retail price. Young children especially won’t care (or know) if the items are new or used. They’re just excited to be getting new toys!

As a confessed thrift store junkie, I’d really love to see more people adopt the practice of giving second-hand gifts. I buy literally as much as I possibly can from thrift stores and Christmas is no different. You really can get some amazing and unique gifts if you take the time to search and think outside the box.

Thrift stores are also a wonderful spot to find holiday outfits, accessories, decorations, dishes, candle holders, tablecloths, ornaments, stocking stuffers and just about anything else you might need for the holidays.

Christmas tree with a red bow next to a window.

DIY Everything

Another effective way to save money and enjoy a frugal Christmas is to DIY everything that you possibly can for the holiday season. Cooking from scratch with baking supplies that were bought on sale will be cheaper than buying a mix or a pre-made treat.

Also, you can DIY lots of different gifts that will save you money. Things like seasoning mixes or cookie mixes in a jar are fun and inexpensive. And if you have a skill like sewing, crocheting, painting or woodworking, then you can make lots of gifts for really cheap. You can also DIY your own decor using fresh-cut greenery, dried cranberries or pine cones.

Check out these posts for more DIY ideas:

6 Ways to Have an Old Fashioned Christmas

15 Homemade Treats to Give

Take Advantage of Black Friday Deals

If you’re a last minute shopper, then you’ll probably be paying more than those who have a plan of attack starting in November. Make a list of the things that you want to purchase for your loved ones and take note of the price. Check back for discounts on these items on the known sale days such as, Prime Day, Black Friday or Cyber Monday and buy as much as you can while the items are discounted to save the maximum amount.

Gone are the days of getting up at 4 am to snag deals. These days you can save just as much shopping online sales without the stress of holiday crowds. (Thank goodness.)

Stock Up at the End of the Season

An amazing way to get ahead of your holiday budget for next year is to shop the end of the season holiday sales. Any frugal person will tell you that the best deals are found after the event has passed when most people aren’t interested anymore because that’s when you’ll find the deepest discounts.

Stocking up on things like gift wrap, gift sets, Christmas pjs, candles (which make great gifts), Christmas cards and more is a great way to lower the amount that you spend on the holidays year after year.

Focus on Traditions and Memories

The last and most important tip for how to have a frugal Christmas that I have for you would be to focus on the traditions and memories instead of the gifts and parties.

Build a snowman, make paper snowflakes, sing Christmas carols, bake cookies, watch a Christmas movie, drive around and look at lights. These are the things that will be remembered and they don’t cost a thing. Check out my list of 25 Christmas Activities for Kids for a full list of ideas.


I hope you enjoyed these tips! How do you save money at Christmas? I’d love to know!

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  1. Great ideas, Missy! Each year I try to make Christmas simpler and simpler with less focus on the gifts and more focus on Christ but it can really be a challenge in this over-commercialized world. Our extended family has done a nice job with cutting back on gifts for everyone and just doing gifts for the kids--but even that is too much and overwhelming for them at times! I love doing homemade gifts!
  2. Hi Missy! We have decided that we are cutting presents for the adults. We now just give gifts to the little ones. I love to give homemade gifts. I always bake cookies, fudge, pies and bars for the family. Love your posts! You have great ideas and are such a Blessing with what you write in them. Thank you! ?
  3. I "Christmas shop" all year long. My favorite day is President's Day. Who wants heavy sweaters and flannel shirts when spring is around the corner? $6 for a $60 sweater at Kohl's is about right! A vintage doodad that a friend collects at Goodwill? Into the Christmas bin. Markdowns? In the bin.Yarn on sale; more scarves to knit. Glass jars from food; saved for Epsom bath salts to make for Christmas gifts. Craft supplies I can use to make stuff for friends and the church bazaar. Yeah! Thrifted baskets for theme baskets... The thrill of the hunt is so much and so will love this,"Wrapping frenzies" include using homemade cloth gift bags with beautiful bargain ribbons and cords, tins I've collected and the cheapest Christmas paper I can find. Gift bags and tissue paper are recycled. Tags are cut from last year's cards. And best of all, it's all paid for long before Christmas!!!t It leaves some extra so we can pull some tags off the Giving Tree at church!

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