A cheap Christmas on a strict budget seems wrong somehow, doesn’t it?
Christmas is ALL about giving generously and crazy spending on Christmas gifts and food.
And a frugal Christmas on a budget sounds dull beyond words and a total non-starter with kids!!!
But do you know what?
The truth is, a cheap Christmas can actually be a really lovely family Christmas that is more truly joyful.
So if you’re on a tight budget this year explore this guide to a frugal but fabulously fun Christmas.
It’s chock full of simple, practical ideas for every aspect of Christmas so do bookmark or save it. And use the index to find specific tips you need.
How To Enjoy A Family Christmas On A Low Budget
The big secret to a frugal but fun Christmas is NOT all about hunting down the very cheapest prices.
It is all about doing stuff different. And doing lots of stuff for free.
In this budget Christmas guide I’ll explain first how I actually earn money to pay for Christmas.
And then share loads of ways to:
- Make cheap DIY decorations
- Give cheaper but still lovely gifts
- Gorgeously wrap presents cheaply
- Enjoy yummy food on a budget
- Avoid unnecessary costs
- Cut postage & travel costs
- Value what we have
- Enjoy free Christmas entertainment
They truly can help us connect more deeply with the real joy of Christmas.
Paying For Christmas
Every year I pay for a good part of Christmas by decluttering.
I sell on the great things we’ve grown out of and the barely used stuff someone else will enjoy more.
We just sold our dolls house. I am sad its going but love that new kids will enjoy it. The cash went straight into our Christmas budget.
What To Declutter
So sell anything you can on eBay or Facebook right through into December including …
- Never used gadgets still in boxes.
- Expensive outgrown toys e.g. bikes, dolls houses, trains, ride ons, roller skates, lego, toy kitchens.
- Barely worn party clothes.
- Bundles of books, jigsaws & games.
- Excess Christmas decorations.
- Christmas baking equipment.
- Wine glasses, cutlery & crockery.
- Spare bed linen.
- Table clothes & tea towels …
Or anything someone else could gift or make use of over Christmas.
You will make money AND space!!
For more help read my declutter tips.
Now we’ve got extra money in our purse let’s look at smart ways to make that money go further.
Cheap Christmas Decor
There are loads of lovely ways to make Christmas decorations for free.
And they’re a double whammy for our Christmas budget as they’re also FREE Christmas activities for kids :
- Homemade ornaments
- Christmas table decor
- DIY Christmas wreaths
- Cheap Christmas trees
- Upcycled Christmas decorations.
So check out these simple ideas …
Cheap Homemade Christmas Ornaments From Nature
Enjoy a winter walk and gather supplies to make lovely natural Christmas decorations for free …
Cheap Christmas Table Decoration Ideas
You truly can create beautiful Christmas table decorations from cuttings, bottles & cans, battered baubles, plant pots and old candles!
For quick, easy ideas explore these :
Cheap DIY Christmas Wreaths You Can Make Easily
Gorgeous Christmas wreaths can be made for free with a few cuttings. You can even make your own frame.
For loads of ideas explore these :
Cheap Christmas Trees That Still Look Stunning
Christmas trees cost a fortune. But an on trend “not a tree” Christmas tree can be created for free.
For inspiration check out these :
Upcycled Christmas Decor
You can also upcycle Christmas decorations from unused supplies you already have in the house.
Lovely cheap Christmas decorations can be whipped up from leftover :
Cheaper Christmas Gifts That Are Still Lovely
Cheap Christmas gifts don’t have to be bargain basement finds or crazily complicated crafted creations.
And I have here lots of lovely ways to give cheap Christmas gifts :
- Upcycled gifts
- Mason jar gifts
- Pre-loved gifts
- DIY experience gifts
- DIY garden gifts
- Hand down vintage gifts
- Homemade food gifts
- Gifting yourself
Upcycled Christmas Gifts
We can upcycle simple handmade gifts from stuff we have in our home.
Use this guide to super simple handmade gifts to make a :
- No Sew Teepee Tent
- Pillow Case Sundress
- Super Hero Capes
- Upcycled Tie Pockets
- No Sew Cushion Covers
- And more …
Mason Jar Christmas Gifts
You can make lovely cheap mason jar gifts with any old kitchen jars.
This big guide to simple mason jar gifts has clever ideas you can make cheaply including :
- Jewellery making kit
- Super cute reindeer jars
- Gardeners grow kit
- Finger knitting kit for kids
- Balt salt jar.
Cheap Pre-loved Gifts
Buying second hand presents – especially for young kids – is a brilliant way to have to have a cheap – and zero waste – Christmas.
Good quality 2nd hand toys are an investment as you’ll be able to sell them on for what you paid. Look out for 2nd hand big ticket items like :
- Bikes, trikes, skates & scooters
- Trampolines, slides & swings
- Walkers & bouncers
- Dolls houses, toy kitchens & forts
- Wooden toys, especially trains
- Great Lego sets
- Great Playmobil sets
- Great Duplo sets
- Toy cars
- Swing ball
- Sports equipment
- Musical instruments
Facebook is a great place to find local pre-loved toys. You can even share wish lists in case neighbours have what you are hunting.
Organise A Puzzle Swap
Puzzle swaps are another money saving zero waste Christmas idea. Exchange done jigsaws or games you’ve played loads with family & friends rather than buying new.
It is NOT a huge money saver but is a lovely way to bring community spirit into our Christmas celebrations.
Cheap DIY Experience Gifts
Experience gifts can be pricey but asking family to buy kids vouchers saves us money on outings next year. You can get vouchers now for :
- Theme parks
- Big thrill rides
- Zip trekking
And you can create cheaper DIY versions of experience gifts.
Pass On Vintage Gifts
Christmas is all about family connections so it’s a wonderful time to pass on a heirloom whether it’s a :
- Much loved teddy or soft toy
- Pile of books
- Watch or jewellery
- Real camera
- Music collection or instruments
- Vintage clothes, bags or shoes
- Or a piece of furniture they love.
They may not be worth loads but shared with the family stories that go with them, they become priceless.
For more inspiration check out this list of DIY vintage gift ideas …
Cheap Christmas Food Gifts You Can Make Quickly & Easily
Kate Middleton may not be on a tight Christmas budget but still gives the King super frugal jars of homemade preserves as a gift!!
So copy Kate and make your own cheap Christmas food gifts such as :
The cost of Christmas food can quickly mount up so keep it simple with recipes based on just a few cheap ingredients like :
- Old fashioned sugar fudge
- Christmas shortbread
- Simple sugar Christmas cookies
- Rock candy
- Crab apple jelly with FREE fruit
- Frozen berry freezer jam
- Preserved lemons
- Christmas pickled onions
- Easy Christmas chutney.
No worry if you’ve never preserved before – check out these homemade preserves for Christmas gifts.
Cheap DIY Garden Gifts
You can create all sorts of cheap DIY garden gifts from your garden and for keen gardeners even if you don’t have a garden including …
- Teacup planter pots
- Pressed flower frames
- Upcycled garden gloves
- Soup tin vases
- Pots of Christmas bulbs …
For more ideas check out this guide to inexpensive DIY garden gifts.
Cheap Christmas Wish List
Using Christmas wish lists to get family help with warm winter clothes kids need also saves us money.
Gift Yourself At Christmas
Giving gifts to loved ones is central to Christmas. So it is incredibly hard when we can’t afford anything.
Agreeing no gifts deals with other adults in our families helps.
And when money is beyond tight we should never forget we are the most precious gift we can give.
There are all sorts of ways we can give our time and skill including :
- Teaching an instrument
- Teaching a craft
- Hair styling
- Dog walking
- Baby sitting
- Prepping meals
- Drawing a portrait
- And just being there, as ourselves with love and listening.
Check out this for lots more wonderful ways to gift your time …
So now we have lots of lovely cheap Christmas gifts, it’s time to get them wrapped up beautifully and we can do that cheaply too.
Cheap Christmas Gift Wrap
The simple Scandinavian Christmas look is still very much on trend and is full of ideas for free and cheap but totally stunning Christmas gift wrap.
Newspaper Gift Wrap
Newspaper and twine gift wrap genuinely can look gorgeous. Especially with tiny cuttings …
Brown Paper Gift Wrap
And you can transform brown packaging by simply adding :
- Garden cuttings
- Scrap fabric ribbons
- Old yarn
- DIY stencils
- Or even post-it notes!!!
There’s loads of stylish & fun brown paper ideas for you here …
DIY Gift Boxes
It is surprisingly easy to make gift boxes from scrap paper and card …
Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap
Any old fabric you have e.g. old pillow cases or shirts can be transformed into super stylish reusable fabric gift wrap …
Upcycled Gift Wrap Ideas
And there are all sorts of ways you can upcycle gift wrap, bags and boxes from scrap fabric, ice cream tubs, cereal boxes and more.
I love this idea for using fallen apart old books to wrap a new book …
Upcycled Gift Tags
DIY gift tags are a cool way to brighten free gift wrap. You can make them super cute or super stylish using any old craft supplies you have with these easy ideas …
Cheap But Delicious Christmas Food
Lots of our Christmas money goes of course on food but there are delicious ways to eat cheaply.
This big guide to Christmas food ideas on a budget takes you through:
- Food To Make Ahead & Freeze
- Yummy Leftovers Recipes
- Filling Food To Go Further
- Homemade Cakes & Desserts
- How To Freeze What’s Left
Borrow Before You Buy
In the run up to Christmas, it’s all too easy to throw money at stuff we won’t use more than once.
Even with money super tight, the marketing machine gets to us with it’s more, more, more message.
So before buying anything new talk to friends and borrow instead :
- Christmas cookie cutters
- Baking sheets
- Roasting tins
- Extra chairs
- Wine glasses
- Table linen
- Bed linen for guests etc
If you truly are short on equipment or supplies and can’t borrow get on freecycle and pick up for free.
You can also find FREE craft supplies.
How To Save Money On Christmas Travel & Postage
Travel and postage costs can seriously add up at Christmas.
So use these frugal tips to cut costs :
- Don’t send cards
- Share a fun family video
- Schedule big meet ups with family far away for January & February when flights will be cheaper
- Buy delivery FREE virtual gifts. This guide to the best digital gifts has cool ideas for all budgets.
We all have a deep need to give thanks at Christmas. We still have that need when we’re struggling.
Giving to others expresses our gratitude and there are still ways we can give when times are tight …
- Serve at a homeless shelter
- Help out at a food bank
- Sing songs at an old people’s home
- Sweep snow for elderly neighbours
- Deliver cards for the immobile
- Pick up parcels for a new mum
- Spend time with someone alone
Create Your Own Cheap Christmas Entertainment
We can easily get caught up in the whirl of Christmas shows and parties but the costs add up, painfully.
Local amateur shows are super fun for kids at a fraction of the price.
And we too easily forget all the simple free ways we can make our own entertainment :
- Carol singing on the street
- Christmas karaoke with neighbours
- Classic Christmas movie swap with neighbours
- Church carol services
- Winter solstice bonfire & yule log
- Christmas ghost story telling snuggled up with hot chocolate & Christmas cookies. Christmas Carol still takes some beating.
- Snowball fights
- A sledging party
Or on a clear night go for a night hike under the stars and remember the simple power of the Christmas story : the birth of a child in the most humble surroundings who called on us all to light the world by loving our neighbours as ourselves.
And there you go, a huge guide to enjoying a wonderfully cheap Christmas on a budget.
For even more Christmas ideas follow me on Pinterest …Photo: Forest scenery, A straight row of four simple paper wrapped Christmas presents with colorful bows, Gingerbread man on new year bokeh background, New year background on red with decorative toys and present box and sledge by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0 Other images by : rawpixel.com