7 Tips for Christmas Savings

Thinking about skimping on the milk and cookies for Santa? Here are some tips for saving money that will keep you in the holiday spirit…

Like the old song says, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also the most stressful, especially where money is involved. With that in mind, here are seven tips for trimming your holiday spending.

1. Save on Wrapping Paper

Newspapers are quickly becoming a thing of the past, but they still have their uses. And one of those uses is as wrapping paper—especially the funny pages. They’re way less expensive than store-bought paper without sacrificing that special, colorful charm.

An added benefit of using the funny pages as wrapping paper is that the comics will deter people from snooping around their gift. One minute you’re shaking a present, the next you’re laughing at a Marmaduke strip. (Just kidding. No one’s ever laughed at Marmaduke.)

2. Clip Those Coupons!

Why look, it’s another use for newspapers! Even though coupons are commonplace on the internet — just check your inbox — coupons in the newspaper are equally as valuable.

Coupons in the paper are especially handy for something no Christmas would be complete without: food. Your local grocery store likely has tons of ads for discounted items, so grab your scissors and pay attention! Careful planning on your part will help stretch your food budget and your waistlines. Read more in Eat. Save. Love: How to Eat Cheaper in 4 Simple Steps.

One note of caution: be sure to read the fine print. Some coupons can be combined together for extra savings while some cannot.

3. Set a spending limit on gifts

It’s a familiar lament that Christmas has been overrun by consumerism, that a holiday intended to be about family and good cheer has instead become about buying stuff.

This year, try having a talk with friends and family about how much everyone can spend. You could set a limit of $20, $30 or $50 per-person. You could say, “No presents over $100.” It’s really up to you.

Doing this will not only save you money. It will also allow you to focus on the really important things that Christmas has to offer, like complaining about your in-laws or about your mom’s fruitcake or about how everyone’s looking at their phones all the time or about…

Okay, so this plan isn’t perfect. But it will still save you money.

4. Play games

Because nothing brings a family together like trying to remember the rules to Monopoly. This is a great way to occupy hours and hours of family time at little to no cost beyond the price of the game itself.

You can also play party games like Charades, Pictionary or Apples to Apples. If you’re really adventurous, you can try Cards Against Humanity, but that is not recommended.

Also, videogames totally count. Have fun teaching your 90-year-old grandpa to play Mario Kart!

5. Take a Christmas lights tour

This is a fantastic after-dinner activity. You just pile everyone into the car and you drive around town looking at all the Christmas decorations. No matter where you live, there are guaranteed to be at least five people who get way to into their holiday lawn displays. And all it costs you is the money you spent on gas.

Just make sure you don’t let your grandpa drive after all those hours of Mario Kart. You don’t want him getting any ideas.

6. Make Christmas dinner a potluck

Come Christmastime, the food costs really add up. Not only are you spending more money for nicer ingredients and more exotic foods but you’re also feeding way more mouths than usual. At the same time, you can’t really ask relatives to chip in for the dinner you’re serving them.

An easier way to spread the costs around is to make the dinner a potluck. Just tell everyone coming over for dinner that they are expected to bring a dish. Nobody will bat an eye. However, it does take a little bit of coordination. Otherwise you end up with five tuna casseroles and no desert.

7. Plan ahead

It’s a little late for this one, so consider this advice for next year. Buying gifts for people way ahead of time can save you loads of money. You can take advantage of sales offered year-round and also outwit the laws of supply and demand. You know when the best time to buy a heavy winter coat is? June. (Just don’t do this with food. Drinking egg nog from July is a bad idea.)

It requires a lot of extra planning, but saving money always does. Plus, you always hear about how people wish the holiday spirit could last all year around. If you’re buying Christmas gifts for people at a Memorial Day sale, then isn’t that kind of what you’re doing? Not really. But close enough!

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