Though the statistics often talk about how much people spend on christmas gifts with their credit cards, I sometimes wonder if those statistics include money spent activities and decorating for Christmas. Despite the sales at craft stores, buying new decorations each year or adding to an existing supply of decorations can be a budget breaker. Tickets to the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall or seeing a major dance company put on a production of The Nutcracker Ballet can also be serious budget busters.
Have a Realistic Budget
You are not the only family with a small Christmas budget. Give yourselves the gift of staying within your financial limits. If you feel tempted to buy more, commit yourself to staying out of the stores during the Christmas season.
Don’t forget to check the after-Christmas sales at craft stores for seasonal decorations. You can pick up bargains at 70% off and more.
Use 1 to 2 Focal Points for Decorating
Use your Christmas decorating budget to focus on a few focal points in your home, or decorate only one room. The front door, especially if it faces the street, is a good place to start. A simple wreath or wrapping the door in wrapping paper can be quite effective. Set up a small display on the table where you have dinner every night. Set up a display with a small white serving dish filled with ball ornaments or a few pine cones with some springs of pine branches tucked it.
Another option is picking one room that your family uses daily like the dining room or the kitchen. Hang a few pine garlands in this room and tuck some pine branches around decorative items on the shelves.
Low Cost Greens
Decorating with greens doesn’t have to cost a lot. Start with whatever you have in your own yard. Magnolia, rhododendrons, boxwood, holly, and yew are still green this time of year. When you cut, trim from the bottom or the back to keep the tree or shrub’s shape.
Don’t be afraid to use other foliage in your yard. My flower beds are full of dead flowers from sedum, roses, echinecia. We have English ivy growing on our cinder block wall, and leaf-less grapevines growing on our back porch. All of these would be perfect for decorating inside.
Check with a neighbor, and offer to trade greenery. Ask if you can have the discarded greens when you buy a Christmas tree. Take an inexpensive pine garland and add a string of lights and a few bows for your own festive twist.
Give the Gift of Time
Invite another family over one Friday night for a simple dinner and board games. Ask the grandparents to join you and the kids when you make cookies one weekend. Take a walk together at a local arboretum.
Host a Christmas movie night with one or two other families. Each family contributes a dish for dinner or a dessert for an after-dinner movie night. You can find free or cheap videos at the library, or ask around if you’re looking for a particular video like It’s a Wonderful Life.
Invite the grandparents over for decorating your Christmas tree. Or, ask them to babysit one afternoon while you and your husband do your holiday shopping. Set the grandparents up with a few craft supplies and a pile of books. Leave a few videos if they need a quiet activity.
Skip the Christmas Cards and Write Notes to Your Loved Ones
A handwritten note makes a wonderful gift for anyone. A grandparent can share a story about their childhood with a grandchild. A mom or dad can share a special everyday moment with their child that made their day. Siblings can write notes to each other about what they love about each other. Have the whole family work together on a family letter with illustrations to copy and mail to extended family.
Research Free and Low-cost activities for kids in Your Town
Check the library for special Christmas story times and brunch with Santa. Local churches also host free or inexpensive brunch with Santa events. Some churches hold a live nativity. Ask around for the best Christmas light displays and do a car tour one night equipped with hot chocolate and holiday cookies. Visit Santa at the mall but skip buying the photos.
Smaller regional theaters offer matinee or low-cost tickets for holiday productions like The Nutcracker and The Christmas Carol.
How do you keep Christmas on a low budget?