Money Saving Hacks for the Holidays That Everyone Should Know

mother and daughter making advent calendar at kitchen table

Money Saving Hacks for the HolidaysLiam Norris – Getty Images

When holiday season

The holidays are an expensive time of year. Gift shopping and decorating alone can add up, but add in travel costs and hosting holiday get-togethers, and now you may be facing significant financial strain. Unlike dinner plans with a friend, you can’t cancel these celebrations just because you’re trying to save money, so what can you do to make festivities just as memorable while sticking to a budget?

First, ask yourself what you can cut out this year. What has a less expensive alternative or are there even things you can make happen for free? We have you covered with plenty of solutions and we guarantee these new, cost-friendly suggestions will be the start of your new favorite traditions. For example, maybe you host a cheaper holiday brunch this year instead of a full dinner. Scroll on for other ways to save and we challenge you to see how much you can put back into your pocket this year. We bet you’ve never thought of our tips and tricks below, so without further delay, take note of it all below!

Skip the Fancy Gift Wrap

Stop spending money on wrapping paper that’s just going to get thrown out. Decorative paper is expensive and you’ll go through it more quickly if you have large boxes that need to be wrapped. Find alternatives at home like a roll of butcher paper, newspaper, or brown paper grocery bags turned inside out. Give it a little flair by adding a bow, doodling on the brown paper, or letting your child(ren) use the paper as a creative canvas for the most unique prints and patterns.

small business box and postcard still life in white backgroung with dried orange slices and eucalyptus leaves for eco friendly christmas with woman hand

SandraMirey Photography – Getty Images

Reuse Gift Bags

Any time you receive a gift, carefully fold the tissue paper, flatten the bag, and store it where you’ll easily remember for next season. No need to buy gift bags every year.

brown gift bag with red ribbon handle and red christmas tree and snowflake print on the bag

Adél Békefi – Getty Images

Get a Free Turkey

Around Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving many grocery stores offer loyalty members a free turkey, ham, or lasagna if you spend a certain amount. Find out if your local store is offering this and do all your grocery shopping there to start adding rewards. Then again, don’t overbuy just to hit the goal because let’s face it, buying a ham is much less expensive than snagging things you don’t need simply to hit a $400 minimum purchase.

roast turkey dinner

LauriPatterson – Getty Images

Make It a Potluck

Entertaining family and friends for the holidays isn’t cheap. Food costs can add up quickly, even if you’re only serving a few appetizers. To help mitigate the cost of feeding loved ones, especially if you have a long guest list, turn your party into a potluck. Ask guests to bring a side dish, drink, or dessert. As host, make sure to provide guidelines about what is needed and keep track of who will bring what so you don’t end up with five apple pies and no mashed potatoes.

friends arrive for dinner party potluck

The Good Brigade – Getty Images

Get Gift Cards

Around Black Friday through Christmas, certain retailers will offer gift card bonuses like a free $10 gift card with $50 gift card purchases. Give the gift card and consider the bonus card a treat for yourself or go all out and keep them both. While buying gift cards in bulk comes with a hefty price tag upfront, if it’s a store or eatery you already frequent, stocking up ultimately gives you discounts in the future.

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Jeff Greenberg – Getty Images

Do-It-Yourself, If You Can

While DIY projects are known for being the cheapest alternative, that’s only sometimes the case. Making gifts yourself can be cost-efficient if it’s something you already have supplies for or know how to do. The holidays aren’t the time to head to the craft store and buy a bunch of costly materials to teach yourself a new skill. Instead, search budget-friendly gifts or “dollar store craft hacks” on Pinterest for inspiration. Remember, it’s truly the thought that counts when giving presents.

mother and child are making decorations for ramadan

Maria Fedotova – Getty Images

Choose a Different Date

Who says a holiday can only be celebrated one day a year? Whether there are scheduling conflicts with getting the whole family together or you want to avoid the price hikes that come with holiday travel, find a convenient time that works for everyone you’re celebrating with and plan for a new date. Plus, getting together after the original date means you can take advantage of post-holiday sales (score!).

unrecognizable mother with small son indoors in kitchen, planning

Halfpoint Images – Getty Images

Budget, Budget, Budget

Giving and receiving gifts can be stressful. Are you spending as much as the person who’s giving you a gift or did you spend way too much? Before you start shopping for anyone, sit down, and map out what you can afford to spend on gifts, food for holiday meals, decorations, activities, etc. and then prioritize what’s most important to you and your family. No holiday nor any gift is worth going into debt.

close up of woman planning home budget and using calculator

skynesher – Getty Images

Buy Holiday Cards in Bulk

Skip the custom-printed photo cards and avoid buying individual cards from the card aisle. Instead, buy your holiday cards in bulk on Amazon or even the Dollar Spot at Target to significantly cut costs. Then, avoid the extra costs of postage and hand-deliver them to anyone whom you know you’ll see over the holidays. Have cards left over at the end of the year? Trade with friends so you can all send out new cards next year.

pile of christmas cards

Deborah Pendell – Getty Images

Find Free Activities in Your Neighborhood

The holidays aren‘t about how much you spend. There are plenty of free ways to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones. Attend a community event like a menorah lighting or Christmas parade. Facetime a family member you can’t travel to see this year. Visit Santa at the mall. Check your local paper and town website for event calendars with free and low-cost ways to celebrate, too.

candle lighting ceremony in new york signifies start of jewish holiday

Anadolu – Getty Images

Track Flight Deals

When browsing flights to head home for the holidays, don’t book until you’ve done your research. Enter your preferred travel dates on sites like Hopper or Google Flights and turn on price tracking to see if now’s the best time to buy your flight or if they predict the price to drop. If your travel dates are flexible, play around with shifting departure or arrival dates to the left and right to find the best deals.

airplane taking off on the runway

Greg Bajor – Getty Images

Host a White Elephant or Secret Santa

For large families or friend groups, buying a gift for every single person can do a number on the wallet. So suggest exchanging gifts with just one other person through a White Elephant or Secret Santa.

exchanging gifts

skynesher – Getty Images

Get an Artificial Christmas Tree

An artificial tree may be more expensive than a live one, but it’ll soon pay for itself since you’ll be able to use it again and again.

christmas morning mother and son under the artificial christmas tree

SolStock – Getty Images

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