Christmas can be really expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little creativity, a little planning, and some hard work, you can create a magical Christmas for you and your family without spending a cent.
See Christmas will be here before you know it, and the thought of filling the empty space under your tree is probably starting to give you a little anxiety. Don’t worry, I’m here to help for the holidays.
Think of this post as your step-by-step guide to making Christmas happen when you have no money. If you are willing to keep your Christmas simple this year, it can absolutely be done. Incorporating even just a few of these ideas into your Christmas planning with save you money, and create a memorable Christmas. Let’s get started.
How to Afford Christmas When You Have No Money
When money is tight, the first thing you will hear is “Christmas is about more than just presents under the tree.” That’s all fine and good, but just because you don’t have cash doesn’t mean there won’t be any gifts this year. While this can certainly be an option for you, I don’t think it’s time to take such drastic measures just yet.
Focus on Immediate Family First
This includes your spouse and kids. Nobody else. If you are able to find some wiggle room, then by all means buy or make gifts for your extended family. However, if you are working with a zero budget, you need to drastically reduce the number of people you are buying gifts for.
Make Presents Instead of Buying Them
Making presents is the perfect way to be creative and frugal when it comes to gifts. Here are some great gift ideas you can make that can be made with materials you probably already have:
- Coupon Books for time together or things you can do for someone.
- Decorated Ornament
- DIY Super Hero Mason Jar Bank
- Hot Cocoa Kit
- Mason Jar Snowglobe
- Sugar Scrub
- Tile Coasters
- Sharpie Mugs
- DIY Christmas Card
- Scrabble Bracelet
- Sweater Mittens
- DIY Recipe Binder
- Mason Jar Toothbrush Caddies
- Rather than focusing on material gifts, instead look for ways to gift experiences over stuff.
Look for opportunities for Free Gifts
Check the free section of Craigslist and Freecycle regularly for items you can use to make something, or give as a gift to someone on your list. You may also be able to score some decorations and stocking stuffers as well.
Make your own
Christmas decorations are REALLY expensive. Skip the store-bought decorations this year, and make your own instead. You can even turn this into a family activity! Here are some great homemade Christmas decoration ideas:
- DIY Mason Jar Wreath Ornament
- Wine Glass Decorations
- DIY Ornament Wreath
- Snowman Bottle Cap Ornament
- Joy Bottles
- Styrofoam Tree (Pinterest has thousands of variations of this cute craft)
- Snowman Fridge
- Snowman Candle Holder
- Egg Carton Reindeer and Sleigh
- Hot Glue Gun Snowflakes
- Chicken Wire Christmas Light Balls
- Snowflake Luminaries
- Tealight Snowmen
- Toilet paper roll Christmas Tree
- Clay Pot Snowmen
- Thumb Print String Light Art
- Popsicle Stick Snowflakes
- Cardboard Fireplace
- DIY Advent Calendars
- Turn Pillows into Presents
- Christmas Wine Bottle Crafts
- Mini Christmas Tree Decor
- Snowman Milk Jugs
- Toilet Paper Roll Christmas Crafts
- Cottonball Santa Craft
You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the holiday season with your family. There are hundreds of things you can do together as a family that won’t cost you a thing! Here are some of my favorites:
- Drive or walk around and look at Christmas lights
- Volunteer together
- Bake Christmas cookies together (here are 100 different recipes from the Dating Divas)
- Go caroling
- Attend a nearby Christmas parade
- Attend a free holiday concert
- Make ornaments or decorations together
- Watch Christmas movies together
- Build a Gingerbread House (you can find a lot of the supplies needed at deep discounts if you stock up ahead of time, however you can get creative and build one out of things from around your home)
[clickToTweet tweet=”Looking to do the holidays w/o breaking the bank? Check out how to afford Christmas on a budget.” quote=”Looking to do the holidays w/o breaking the bank? Check out how to afford Christmas on a budget.” theme=”style1″]
Despite the commercials and media hype, you don’t have to spend ANY money to still have a nice Christmas.
*This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post and linking up with Kristi at Finding Ninee. This week’s sentence is “The holidays are coming, and…”
What ways do you save money at Christmas time?
Now tell me in the comments…
Oh man this isn’t a post you read very often, but it is AWESOME! Christmas is so stressful for so many families! I love this. Will be sharing!
I couldn’t agree more with Jen and thank you for sharing, as well 😉
I think when my kids are grown I will quit Christmas. It is such a stressful time. I think I’ll take a nice Caribbean vacation with my husband instead (probably save a ton of money too!)
I like the way you think. I may try that myself someday. Cheers to cocktails on the beach on Christmas in the future!! 🙂
William Holland says
I don’t know about you, Janine, but I’ve had a few Christmases when there was zero money. One learns creativity real fast in those circumstances. Great suggestions!
And Happy Friday and Happy Weekend to you!
Thanks Bill and I agree about learning creativity quickly in times such as these. Happy Friday and Weekend to you, too 🙂
Julie Clarke says
Some great ideas, thanks 🙂
You are so welcome, Julie 😉
Lots of good tips. I will surely be sharing this.
Thanks Vickie for sharing, too 🙂
Meredith Spidel says
Our budget is shot! I SO need this!
I know same here and why I put this together in all honesty!
Great ideas, Janine! We usually do small gifts for Hanukkah, so it’s not too expensive. And last year, we decided to stop exchanging gifts with all the cousins on my husband’s side – it’s so freeing! We were basically just trading gift cards for the kids anyway.
I know and been there in our own family. So definitely would be a freeing feeling I can imagine if nothing else. Thank you for sharing with me, too Dana 🙂
We used to have no money and it was pretty bad and I remember getting creative around the holidays. The kids didn’t understand it yet. I would just give my photos to everyone!
I love the gift you gave as I know just how wonderful your photography truly is <3
Your post also brings up a point that the holidays, in general, shouldn’t be so focused on buying all the things. I grew up doing getting a gift every night for Chanukkah, but now we just light the candles and occasionally make latkes. For Thanksgiving Eve and I made decorations using items we already had around the house (and they were super cute!). Thanks for this post!
Happy to share and thank you for sharing your holiday memories with me, too Bev 😉
Kristi Campbell says
Another great post, Janine! Christmas is so crazy and we’ve succumbed to it too often. This year, we’re doing a big thing, a need thing, and an activity. We have so many toys here and it’s just crazy. I love all of your ideas, especially the making your own decorations because then the kids can be involved and it’s a family project, too. xoxo shared!
Thank you so much for sharing and and love your ideas for this year, as well Kristi 🙂
Aunt Gloria says
Good ideas…..and I’m sure many of your readers will use them, whether they are on a budget or not. Making them looks like fun! Thanks….xxoo
Aw, thank you too Aunt Gloria! 🙂
Seana Turner says
A close family member when through an extended period of unemployment some years back. The holidays were stressing her out, so we decided to exchange only hand-made gifts. At the time, she live down south, so I gathered all the acorns from my yard and made her a wreath. She loved it because it felt like a taste of home. She made me some hand-turned ornament holders (fancy ones), that I still use today to hang special ornaments from my chandelier. It felt fun to do something different, and I often think we should go back and do that again!
I love that you did this, Seana and agree needs to definitely be done more often now! 🙂
These are brilliant ideas!! I have had so much fun DIY’ing my own Christmas ornaments, I can’t believe I waited so long to do them! And Christmas cookies are such a nice and thoughtful gift!
Thanks Nellie and I love gifting Christmas Cookies so much here in all honesty 😉
Kenya G. Johnson says
I just read Nellie’s comment. The link I clicked on above was to making Christmas ornaments. I think that’s something fun to try “to keep”. We used to go to Hallmark and buy an ornament each year, but we’ve been there done that and Hallmark is really unreasonably expensive now.
I agree about Hallmark and I truly love making my own ornaments now myself, too for keeping costs down, as well as crafting wise 😉
Christine Carter says
Oh Janine, these are wonderful ideas! Such a helpful list of things we can do, decorations we can make, and gifts that are budget friendly. Gotta share this one too!
AW, thank you again so much, Chris!! 🙂