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How to Save Money Over the Holidays

Christmas is 23 days away. Hanukkah starts in just 8 days!

Holidays are not an emergency, but they can be a drill! Let me translate that. Do not use your emergency fund on holiday shopping. Presents are not an emergency. That new, beautiful iPhone is not an emergency.

So what do you do? Cheap out? No way. Receiving gifts is a primary love language for some folks. Give a gift that speaks to them. Not literally.

Let me give you some ideas on how to tackle gifts this holiday season.

Family Gift Swap

My siblings and I do a family gift swap. With eight of us, five spouses, and now 9 children, that makes 22 people between us all. Even a budget of $20 per person would be $440! And that’s not even counting my husband’s side of the family, our parents, our kids, and ourselves!!

Buying presents for everyone would be crazy.

Instead, we have a system. Every adult gets one adult and one child assigned to them. That way, every adult receives one thoughtful present and each kid gets a couple.

Instituting a family gift swap like that or like a white elephant gift exchange could be helpful in keeping your holiday budget under control and making sure everyone gets a fun and/or thoughtful gift.

Get Crafty

Homemade gifts can be thoughtful and beautiful. A friend of ours made a gorgeous LOVE decoration from shells and it’s one of the gifts we cherish the most. Her skill shows. It’s in a prominent place in our home.

Other homemade gifts I’ve seen include:

  • Food - preserves, granola, hot chocolate mix, candies, bread, salsa, and more

  • Woodwork - nativity scenes, napkin holders, crosses, picture frames, bookends, and others

  • Fabric - napkins, place mats, tablecloths, pillow covers, hair ties, masks, clothes

  • Knits - hats, rags, blankets, scarves, mittens, sweaters, shawls

  • Jewelry - earrings, necklaces, bracelets

These are just some ideas. I’ve seen homemade ornaments, furniture, and even paintings given as gifts. Use your imagination and think about the time you have before that holiday. You could make some lovely gifts for the people you love.

Give Time

Personally, I can’t think of a better gift right now than a coupon for future babysitting. Maybe it’s the 2020 talking, but a free evening out with my husband sounds enchanting.

Many folks right now would love some time to themselves or time away from the chores they do every day.

Time Coupons dedicate your future time to helping your recipient. I’ve seen coupons for many things, including:

  • Babysitting

  • Homemade dinner delivered

  • Back or foot massage

  • Housecleaning

  • Car detailing

Think about the person you’re giving to and how much COVID exposure they and you are willing to have. While I’d love babysitting now, I would only call in that coupon once we have a vaccine available. If they could really use some help in an area, that’s your target for a Time Coupon. Remember, the idea here is not to be cheap, but to give them something they’d spend good money for.

Curated Collections

Some of the most memorable and appreciated gifts I’ve received were collections of items along a theme. A gift basket or gift shoe box.

A past roommate of mine knew how much of an Anglophile and Francophile I was (and still am). She decorated a shoe box with gift wrap and added a few Paris themed items, like stickers, stationary, and a paperweight. I’ll never forget it. The whole presentation charmed me.

Another time, I’ve gone shopping for gift baskets and left disappointed in the poor quality for the price. That inspired me to make my own! It’s surprisingly easy to make your own gift basket with a little foresight for about 1/4 the price. Give it a shot!

Sales and Deals

Who would I be without mentioning deal shopping?

You can find some amazing deals on stuff people don’t want anymore right off Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, OfferUp, and other person-to-person selling sites. Hit them up!

Beware of scams, though. Only buy through a verifiable website or app. If you’re buying from Facebook Marketplace, pick up in person and use cash. If it’s electronic, meet in a bank or a populated area with an outlet for you to test to make sure it works. I’ve been scammed on electronics before. Don’t let that happen to you.

Re-gift (it’s not the worst!)

”Re-gift” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. As long as the item looks newish, is what the recipient would love, and comes from the heart, that re-gifted gift could be loved.

We have been known to re-gift items. To my knowledge, the recipients have been never the wiser. Shh!

A word of caution: Make sure not to give a gift back to the person who gave it to you. That would be awkward!


Even if you use all of these techniques, you could still go over budget.

Make sure to keep track of what you’re spending and stick to your plan. It can be tempting to give more than you should. Remember, giving gifts is about showing your love and care for the other person. Don’t go into debt to give a present. The person you love wouldn’t want that for you.

Neither do we!

If you're having trouble affording what you want, like gifts for someone else, please reach out. Book a complimentary consultation with us right on our homepage, We can help you get rid of your monthly debt payments and build real wealth. That's what we do.


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