Christmas and the holiday season is the busiest shopping time of the year. It is the time when retailers look to make their best sales and recuperate the losses they have usually incurred for the rest of the year. Consumers buy like there was no tomorrow and by the time the New Year comes they often face a mountain of debt.
The frugal Christmas shopper knows how to get all the Christmas gifts on their list and still stay in the black. What is their secret? Let us take a quick look at a Christmas checklist for frugal Christmas shopping.
- Be prepared: get your gift list ready and know exactly what you need to buy. This will prevent spontaneous buying, which will increase spending.
- Cash only: This is hard to do but very necessary. Do not use credit cards. If you do you will be tempted to buy things without taking into account the price. This is a sure way to create a mountain of credit card debt to pay off in the coming year.
- Be creative: think of unique Christmas gift ideas. When you buy presents try to make them unique and fitting for the person. It is not necessarily how much it costs but whether it is a worthwhile gift that your loved one will enjoy. Many unique gifts are not expensive but will be much appreciated.
- Sales: There are plenty of sales around the holiday season with chances to get cheap Christmas gifts. Just remember to keep an eye on the paper and TV ads.
- Save big on after Christmas sales: this m ay sound insane but many people save a lot on after Christmas sales. Prices are cut as much as 50% after Christmas because the retailers have a surplus of stock and want to sell it off rather than keeping it for a whole year. You can take advantage of these sales and keep the gifts in a safe place. It will save you time as well as money as you will have to do less shopping in the crowded stores at Christmas time.
- Do it yourself: if you enjoy arts and crafts, knitting and sewing etc. you can make some lovely gifts for people on your list. Making your own gifts will save you a lot of money and enable you to give unique presents to your loved ones.
- Baking: home baked gifts are always popular for many people on your list. This is one of the cheap Christmas gifts you can give but is greatly appreciated. You can look for recipes online or use some traditional family ones.
- Gift cards: rather than giving gifts that the recipient may not like you can always give them a gift card for their favourite shop. This will save you time and you can get gift cards to match your budget.
- Decorations and Christmas lights: when you buy these items always buy them directly after Christmas so that you will take advantage of the post Christmas sales. Decorations and other accessories are usually at least ½ off and can easily be stored until next Christmas. You will save a lot of money by doing this.
- Christmas cards: You can buy these at the January sales and usually save 50% off the regular price. When you make your own you will save even more and delight your loved ones with unique Christmas cards.
With gifts and decorations, the holiday season can quickly add up resulting in you spending more than originally planned. Fortunately, you can still prepare a delicious holiday meal for family and friends without over-spending. There is certainly something to be said for not spending more than necessary. Here are some ideas for Christmas food ideas and cheap Christmas meals to save you a little cash.
Plan and Prepare in Advance
Planning in advance is perhaps the best way to save money on food during the holidays. With some advanced planning and preparation, you can still have an exorbitant meal at a low price. Where many go wrong is waiting until the last minute to decide what to prepare. This results in last-minute, impulsive shopping and can really put a dent in the holiday budget. First, take some time to make a menu of what dishes you will prepare. Then, make a list of all ingredients you will need with emphasis in all. Don’t leave out anything, including drinks and beverages. Check your refrigerator and pantry for items you already have and make a note of which items you need to purchase. For items you have but are running low on, make sure you purchase enough to replenish your stock.
Secondly, start purchasing items in advance. It can be intimidating to go out and buy every single item. The last thing you will feel is as if you are saving money. Not only is it easier on the budget, purchasing items 1-2 at a time in advance can even make the actual meal more enjoyable if money is tight since you will be less likely to dwell on how much the meal cost.
Downsize Meals and Dishes
Think back to past meals and make a note of which dishes were the most popular, and which were not. If you usually have loads of leftovers from your green-bean casserole, it may not worth making this year. If your rhubarb pie is hardly touched, don’t make it. Those enjoying your meals obviously have other favourites. If you insist on including these in your menu, just make less. Or, cut it out altogether. The cost of ingredients adds up quickly. Focus on the dishes that are the most liked. Not only will it save money, it will also save you time and effort. Cutting down on desserts is another great way to downsize your meals without downsizing the joy of holiday foods. The trend is usually far too many desserts. Just keep it simple with a pie and some cookies. You do not need to have a dessert buffet to satisfy your guests. By the time they reach dessert, most are too full to eat most of the desserts anyways.
Take Advantage of Money Saving Christmas Offers
Shortly before the holiday season, food retailers usually have special promotions for on traditional holiday ingredients and foods, such as turkeys, hams, potatoes and stuffing. By preparing your menu and ingredients list in advance, you will be in a much better position to take advantage of these money saving offers. An easy way to overspend on holiday food is to make impulse purchases on sale items, only to find out during the meal preparation that you didn’t need that much stuffing or already had enough potatoes. It is not saving you anything if you purchase two cans of evaporated milk but one sits in the pantry until you finally toss it. This is a fantastic time to find cheap Christmas food.
As you see, it is possible to have a special holiday meal and stay within budget. It is all about sharing and celebrating with family and friends. Planning and preparing in advance is a great money saver and stress reliever, adding to the holiday joy rather than taking away. Keep it simple and always be open to asking guests to bring a small dish. One great way to share the cost is to invite your guests to bring a dessert. Many enjoy making desserts and everyone will likely be happy to contribute.