Have Christmas without going into debt

Christmas is expensive!

I remember looking at trees last year and thinking “I can’t afford $40 for a TREE”. That didn’t include finding someone to haul it for me (I am not putting a tree on the top of my Camry, thank you very much!). Instead, I bought a $5 tree tag from the Montana Forest Service and borrowed a truck for the day. Wow, what a lot of work! By the end of the day I had two little ones who were exhausted and a tree that would make Charlie Brown happy.It was the best Christmas tree I have ever had, and I plan to repeat the process again this year.

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Other than cutting your own tree down, there are lots of ways to save this Holiday. Here are a few of the ways that I give great gifts without spending a fortune.

Craigslist it!

Or Facebook it, whatever works best in your area. The thing is, you don’t have to buy a brand new $200 bike when someone in your area is selling one that is perfectly good for $25. I love finding steals like this where I can clean it up a bit or repaint it and it’s as good as new. Last year I bought my toddler a tricycle in brand new condition for $10 in the local classifieds rather than spending $60 on it new from the store. She doesn’t know the difference, and she loves it!

Make it!

This year I have decided to stick to the idea of: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Which is harder than it sounds. When I decided to do this, I chose to make the ‘something to wear’. Even if it’s a simple circle skirt or a knitted hat, it means so much more when I put in the time to make it myself. This year I am going to try my hand at sewing dresses.

SAVE it!

I shop throughout the year for stocking stuffers and fun stuff for my gift bin in the closet. Anything from packs of crayons that I pick up on clearance to hand knitted headbands and hats. When we do our Christmas Shoeboxes, this is where the majority of the gift comes from. My kids have a great time picking out presents to send to a little boy or girl on the other side of the world.

uPGRADE IT!

So it’s from the dollar store, so what? One of my favorite tricks is to upgrade something that I found to make it unique and one-of-a-kind. You know those $1 cotton gloves that everyone buys and loses right away? I like to take them and sew on a strip of lace or fun ribbon on the cuffs.

This is my favorite thing to do when I am watching a movie after the kids go to sleep. I sit down with a pile of gloves (I pick them up on clearance for 25 cents in the spring) and a bunch of loose ribbon. I always keep a few pairs on hand for when someone gives me an unexpected gift.

RE-GIFT IT!

Honestly, who needs 6 cinnamon apple pie candles? I have a box of candles that people have given me over the years in the closet. Those, along with Christmas socks, flavored chap sticks and random books that I will never read. The nice thing is, when I need a gift for an office party, a white elephant party with friends, etc. I can go to my catch-all box and make a really nice gift basket from things other people have given me over the years.

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EAT IT!

Who doesn’t like fudge, or Christmas cookies, or spice bread? I think about all the little, worthless junk that people have given me through the years that collect dust (or went straight to the trash). I would rather have gotten fudge instead. The next time that a friend gives you an ornament, or a little Christmas bobble head. Be nice and don’t give them junk in return, give them something they can eat. Plus you can make giant batches, share it, and be THAT neighbor that everyone loves (or hates, depending on their diet).

DONATE IT!

If I get something I don’t like, or something there is no way my kids are playing with, I give it away. Last year I called the Toys for Tots center in our town on December 27 and asked if I could donated toys for the next year. They were excited to get a head start and I was excited to get rid of that ‘lovely’ Monster High toy that someone gave my 3 year old. Honestly, who gives a 3 year old a creepy monster doll?

Play IT!

I wanted to get my daughter a doll house this year, so I have been watching Craigslist and Facebook looking for a used one. A store recently came out with their monthly sales flier and a bunch of coupons for $10 off here, 30% off there, etc. I sat down and figured out how to use the sales, coupons, and discounts to get a really nice $50 doll house for $13 after the discounts and ebates. Pairing up sales and coupons can really come in handy when you play the game wisely.

Request IT!

Every year my parents give their children a family gift (with 25 grandkids I don’t blame them). Starting last year I let them know what we could use rather than making them think of something. I asked for a membership card for the year to the local zoo. We have used that more than any other gift we have ever received. Rather than giving someone something they don’t need, ask if there is something they want. They will probably give you an idea that is inexpensive and is something they actually will use.

COMBINE IT!

I love learning new skills, and one of my newest ones is sewing. My favorite way of combining handmade and purchased gifts is giving people a handmade coffee sleeve and a $5 coffee card (which I earn from mystery shopping). It’s a simple and practically free gift that everyone loves.

There are a ton of ways to save on Christmas gifts, what is your secret?