‘Tis the season for your charge card to be anything but jolly. So, how do you still celebrate the fact that we can finally form groups of ten or more without Scrooge repo-ing your Christmas Cheer in January? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are my money saving tips for throwing a holiday celebration without getting coal in your stocking!
Gifts: I actually covered ‘affordable gift giving 101’ in one of my previous blog posts- see Give the Gift of a ‘Nice’ present Without Putting Your Charge Card on the ‘Naughty List’. https://thethriftymomcom.wordpress.com/2021/05/27/give-the-gift-of-a-nice-present-without-putting-your-charge-card-on-the-naughty-list/ As with most of my tips I encourage you to cash in on AFTER holiday clearance sales which doesn’t do you much good for THIS holiday season. So, if you plan to get on the ‘post holiday clearance bandwagon’ for next year but you still need help with this year’s shopping then keep reading.
Stocking stuffers: Those of you that are familiar with my posts know that I am pretty much in love with the Target dollar bins. That being said, they’ve been a bit of a let-down in that department this year. Honestly, my award for best stocking stuffers so far would have to go to Meijer. They had an impressive wall of bins with such treasures as holiday scented lip balms, candy, hair decorations, nutcracker and ugly sweater rubber duckies, bath bombs, Crayola bath paint, and kids holiday crafts. Walmart had, by far, the best selection of cute little hot chocolate pouches and novelty candies. Target DID have a nice selection of holiday themed bath bombs and face masks that would appeal to the adults on your list. I also scored some Christmas tree playdough and candy cane scented kinetic sand there as well. Five Below came through again this year with ‘Adult PlayDoh’ scents like ‘Spa Day’, ‘Overpriced Latte’, and ‘Mom Jeans’. They’ve been doing a great job of making those stupid Squishmallow (AKA. Beanie Babies, take two) things available online. You have to pay shipping, but at least you don’t have to get mugged in the parking lot later.
Presents for the Present: If you have an Amazon Rewards Visa card then make sure you maximize your points by putting all your regular daily expenses on it (ie. gas, car insurance, rent, utilities) then use your rewards to buy your kid’s Christmas gifts this year- that’s how I purchased the stupidly-expensive Ryan’s World Mystery Egg my son wanted. I also took advantage of Khol’s cash for the first time this year. Our vacuum broke so we not only replaced it during a Black Friday special, but then I went back later and used the Khol’s cash to get our ‘Jammies for Families’ for free this year!
I forgot to mention Five Below has an awesome Playdoh advent calendar (It costs ten dollars so you will find it in their ‘five beyond’ section). I forgot to mention my Target dollar bin gift score: alcohol puzzles- cute for a low-cost hostess gift or a white elephant gift.
Don’t underestimate the power of a homemade gifts. I know my in-laws have everything under the sun and really don’t want more ‘stuff’ but they seem to genuinely love photos of the grandkids. I take my own photos. There’s nothing to it really….thanks to digital photography! You can crop and retouch decent photos to make them look spectacular and if you shoot a large enough volume of pictures you WILL get at least ONE GOOD ONE. I pick a day when we have no plans, the kids are well rested, and well fed. Then I tell them we are having a costume party. I put them in their fancy dress clothes, find a spot either inside or outside with good lighting, and just let them be kids. I’ve gotten the greatest pictures by letting them play with the tree topper, ornaments (not the glass ones), garlands, gift boxes, tissue paper, and holiday stuffed animals.
Once I have ‘that winning shot’ I like to use Snapfish as my platform for prints, coffee mugs, t-shirts, hats, paper weights, ornaments, and our next topic- Christmas cards! I do caution that Snapfish can get pretty pricey for photo gifts and you will seldom see free shipping but they do run a lot of sales, specials, and coupons so be on the lookout for that.
Christmas Cards: As mentioned before, I love to use Snapfish for my photo greeting cards. I am also a fan of Zazzle for both cards and photo ornaments. It’s hit or miss which one will be running the best deals so you will have to do some comparision shopping. Zazzle does offer Zazzle black- a small yearly fee entitles you to free shipping for the whole year which can be very cost effective. Both sites offer bulk discounts so this option makes sense if you have a long Christmas card list.
Obviously, pre-printed paper cards will be cheaper, but much less personalized. I have seen the best deals so far at Dollar Tree. Keep in mind to buy up a bunch of these post-Christmas when stores are trying to ditch them so they have space for the Valentine’s Day merchandise!
The absolute cheapest option is home-made and you can read more about making your own cards in my Be Your Own Hallmark post. https://thethriftymomcom.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/be-your-own-hallmark/ These will be the most personal, but also the most time consuming, so plan accordingly- no one wants to handmake eighty cards on Christmas eve night!
Decorations: RESALE SHOP all the way! There are soooo many Christmas decorations available this time of year. I found a six foot, fully lit Christmas tree for fifty cents….yes….fifty cents! There’s wreaths and ornaments, ugly sweaters, and ceramic bric-a-brac galore! Do you need Christmas candles, hot chocolate mugs, dishes, snow globes, or tinsel? Goodwill has it ALL for pennies!
Table goods: If I can’t pick them up for fifty cents each after Christmas the year before, then I like to get my napkins, paper plates, and paper cups for the punchbowl at either Party City or Dollar Tree. Though, this year I came across an ad for really decent prices on holiday paper goods at Menards of all the strange places. They also had a fantastic deal on Swiss Miss hot chocolate. I never know what I will find at Menards- we have bought everything from a $300 sofa to a bag of onions for $4.00 there!
The Feast: I know it’s weird to think of clearance sales at grocery stores, but how else are they going to get rid of all those turkeys they didn’t sell for Thanksgiving!? Hopefully you took advantage of this and put one in the freezer for Christmas day. If not, there’s always potlucks or you can go with a less traditional menu that’s easier and cheaper to cook in bulk like tacos or lasagna. Soups or stews will also help you to stretch your meal money further when entertaining large groups and who doesn’t LOVE a heartly bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day? Don’t forget to take advantage of those loss leaders as well. Now is the time to look for deals on baking products for all those cookies! Aldi is running some great specials too, so if you are a person that doesn’t care if your canned peas have a brand name label or not, this is your store!
As always, I hope you have found a tip or trick here that will help ease the financial burden of celebrating the holiday season. Happy shopping and happy hosting!