10 Ways to Stretch Your (SMALL) Christmas Budget

Christmas shopping can be tough, especially on a tight Christmas budget.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy great Christmas gifts, even if you are shopping on a frugal Christmas budget.


With a little bit of planning, you can take your TIGHT Christmas budget and make the most of your gift-giving potential.


*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. I only recommend products I love or would personally use.


Christmas savings piggy bank with Christmas lights


The BEST Ways to Stretch Your Frugal Christmas Budget!


1. Make a list of who you’re shopping for

This seems like a no-brainer when it comes to Christmas shopping, but I have joined the crowd for numerous years of those who go shopping without a list.

The first thing that happens is you will usually forget to buy a gift for someone.


Oops, been there, done that!


The second thing that is likely going to happen is you will overspend on some people, and then end up feeling the need to spend that same amount on everyone which will make you go over your already tight Christmas budget.


I would start by listing everyone you need to buy a Christmas gift for. Then I would take the total amount of money in your Christmas gift budget, and begin listing out the amounts you can spend on each person’s Christmas gift.


This will help guide you in deciding what item(s) to purchase for each person on your Christmas shopping list. Another way this is beneficial is that by planning ahead, you can Christmas shop before things become crazy as we get closer to the holidays, and you will minimize the amount of time you are spending Christmas shopping.


christmas shopping list


2.Begin watching for sales WAY before Christmas

Ok, so once you have your list prepared, begin watching for sales on things you want to buy as Christmas gifts.


There are several holidays that come up before Christmas and those are the perfect opportunities to shop for deals and get the most out of your frugal Christmas budget.


I do enjoy Christmas shopping, but I don’t enjoy all of the crazy and cranky people that Christmas shopping brings out.


By shopping early for as many Christmas gifts as you can, you can enjoy the holidays more by knowing that your Christmas shopping is completed and that you saved time and hassle by getting it done early.


A MUST READ FOR PARENTS OF TODDLERS~: The Best Christmas Gifts for Toddlers (NOT all Toys!)


3. Make your own Christmas gifts

If you have kids, especially younger kids, this is a great Christmas gift opportunity for grandparents, aunts, and uncles! This will also help you budget for Christmas, and give something unique.


We have enjoyed making Christmas crafts with our kids- some we gave as gifts, and others we kept for ourselves.


They are only little once. We enjoy documenting this time and sharing it with those we love.


If you are a crafty person, this is an AMAZING way to give great Christmas gifts on a budget.


The best part about making and giving those gifts is that people usually seem to be very appreciative of the thought that went into the gift. Making Christmas gifts is a great way to save money too.


frugal christmas budget kids grandparent diy craft


4. Shop for Christmas wrapping and Christmas decorations at the end of the season

Shopping on a budget is my favorite way to shop. So, it should come as no surprise that I don’t mind shopping on a frugal Christmas budget. 


I really enjoy giving gifts when I know how much I was able to save.


Buying Christmas supplies at the end of the Christmas season is one of my favorite things to do.


What I have found is that if you are looking for something specific, you are best to be at the store you’d like to shop the day after Christmas, right when the doors open. You have a much better chance of snagging the Christmas decorations and Christmas wrapping you need.


By buying an artificial Christmas tree on clearance at the end of one season, you are able to put more money into your frugal Christmas budget for the upcoming Christmas season.


It is a win for you, and you get to give more the next year.


Some of my favorite types of things to buy on the day after Christmas sales are wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, gift tags, stockings, Christmas lights, and Christmas décor.


One side note here about Christmas paper: It has been my experience that waiting a couple of weeks after Christmas to buy things like Christmas paper and bows will save you the most money. We are often able to get these items 90% off and there is still a pretty wide selection available.


 4 Simple Ways to Reduce Christmas Spend Less on Your Kids


Christmas budget pinterest pin


5. Start budgeting for Christmas at least 6 months in advance

Confession: one of the things we left out of our budget for the first several years of keeping a budget was Christmas gifts.


Why is that important?


If you are like us, and you have a very tight Christmas budget because your budget, in general, is tight (we are a one-income family), then it is critical to plan ahead for these big-budget items.


Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas… they can all add up really quickly and when left out of the budget, you end up exceeding the amount of money you have to spend that year.


So, how to fix this?


Make sure you have a budget line in your annual budget for Christmas gifts. Think through who you are buying for, what celebrations you’ll be buying gifts for, and where the money will be coming from for these gifts. It may also be helpful to have a mental Christmas budget per child.


If you have extra cash in your budget, consider yourself blessed.


If you don’t have that extra money, it is super important that you start saving for your Christmas shopping now.


How can you do that without getting another job?


The best way I have found to do this is to cut out frivolous spending. Start by cutting out things like coffee out, going to the car wash, eating out as often, etc.


If there are things that you are able to do at home, then begin doing those things and start saving the money you would have been spending out.


Here are two things that will help you stay organized. One is a Christmas budget printable, and the other is a Christmas budget spreadsheet. Be sure to print and use them!


how to make your budget stretch at Christmas


6. 4 gift rule for your kids

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this before, but the 4 gift rule is, “Want, Need, Wear, Read”.


What does that mean?


In order to stick with a frugal Christmas budget, this system only has you buying four gifts for your kids.


You would buy something they want, something they need, something they can wear, and something they can read.


This is new to me, but it is certainly something we might do with our children at some point in the near future.


And, if your kids are anything like ours, they get so many Christmas gifts from other people, that four gifts for each kid really is more than enough.


7. Do a family gift drawing

If you have a large family, then you know how quickly things can add up when you are buying a gift for EVERYONE!


One way to simplify this is to do a family gift drawing. In our family, we did one drawing for the adults, and one for the kids. That way each person only needed to buy one gift and they would get one gift in return.


Something else you could do is a white elephant gift exchange.


This is where you buy a gift, wrap it, and take it with you to your family Christmas. Each person draws a number (the amount of numbers is equivalent to the number of participants). The person who drew #1 gets to pick a gift to unwrap first.


This continues, and when someone wants to “steal a gift” from someone else they can.


Although there are many variations on this, it is super fun and each person ends up getting a gift.


Family Activities to Do Together to Connect at Christmas


piggy bank wearing a Christmas hat in front of a Christmas tree


8. Let your kids buy Christmas gifts with Their Own Money

Another way you can do Christmas on a budget is to have your kids buy their own gifts to give.


They can work to save money throughout the year and then they can go with you to buy gifts for the people they want to buy for.


This is an excellent way to teach them responsibility, as well as a way for you to not be purchasing the gifts they will be giving to others.


9. Volunteer together as a Family

There are so many INCREDIBLE non-profits that could really use more help. As I have gotten older I have really begun to realize the value of time.


Use this list of places to volunteer as a family this Christmas to help you find your special place!


Time is precious, and it is non-renewable.


It is a gift to be able to spend time with those you love and cherish, and volunteering together is a bonus gift that you are able to give to someone else.


I promise that if this is something your family is able to do, it will be hard to walk away feeling as though you gave your time and got nothing in return.



READ NEXT: Christmas Eve Activities for Families!




If you have read any of my other posts related to money, then using coupons should come as no surprise!


Coupons are seriously just another form of money in our house. We use coupons the same way we would use cash, except it didn’t cost us anything!


Not using coupons is seriously like throwing money right into the hands of those you are buying from. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather keep that money for my own family.


If you really start to watch, there are coupons everywhere.


I have signed up for numerous retailers that I frequently shop, and they often send really good coupons.


Another place to look for coupons is in your weekly paper. Many retailers even have coupons available in their stores right when you walk in.



Take advantage of all of these opportunities to use FREE MONEY! Coupons will greatly help you with your Christmas budget!



Having a Frugal Christmas IS Doable!

I hope you have been able to snag a few new ideas to help you set a reasonable Christmas budget before the holidays arrive. I hope you feel better knowing how to buy Christmas presents on a budget. 


You have the chance to make the most of the next few months so that Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be stressful because you chose to plan ahead!



blessings to you, Lisa




christmas on a budget pinterest pin christmas budget pinterest pin with piggy bank and christmas gifts christmas budget pinterest pin with piggy bank









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