A Frugal Mom’s Holiday Shopping Guide
The holidays are a time where we show our loved ones how much we care about them. We do this by giving them presents that we know they will love and appreciate. However, buying all of these gifts can add up and get very expensive. If you’re a frugal mom, like me, the holidays can be overwhelming. Having to think about all the money you need to spend on gifts, food and family gatherings. If you follow these tips, you will not only be better prepared this year, but you will also get to keep more money in your pockets.
First, I recommend you start setting a budget for all your shopping. It is so important that you prepare yourself for what you want to spend and stick to it. Second, I recommend you start planning your holiday shopping early. This will give you time to find the best deals and coupons. And third, get creative with your gift giving. Whether you get crafty creative, or come up with creative ideas to save extra money. Instead of buying something new, try making something yourself or regifting something you know they’ll love. And finally, don’t forget the little things. A handwritten card or baked goods always goes a long way! By following these tips, you’ll be able to save money and still have a wonderful holiday season.
Set a budget
Set a budget and stick to it. This doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality, just be mindful of how much you’re spending. Think about how much money you will be able to save until the holidays, and then think about who you want to buy gifts for, and how much you want to spend on each person. You can spend more on certain people than others if that feels what is right for you. Like I personally like to spend more on my kids, than on adults in the family. If you have a hard time putting money aside for your budget, check out the envelope system.
The envelope system
If you are anything like me, and can easily overspend and forget to review your spending at the end of the day, then the envelope system might work best for you. I have designed these cute Printable Christmas Budget Envelopes and all you have to do is print them, fold and glue them, and simply write down what the budget is for, how much the goal of the budget is, and how much money I have put in the envelope. This is a great way to keep track of how much money you have for a specific loved one you are saving money for.
You can use the envelope system for basically anything you need to set a budget for, so if you are looking for non-themed envelopes, check out these Printable Lifestyle Cash Gift Envelopes. Though these are more focused on gift envelopes, you can still use them for budgeting.
But for the Holiday Shopping Guide, we are going to use holiday gift shopping as an example. If you have set a budget for $200 for holiday gift shopping, calculate how much money you need to set aside each week (divide the amount of money by the number of weeks left until the day you want to have all your gifts) and make sure you put that money in each week. If you have a little extra, I also recommend you put it in, so you have a buffer for the weeks when it’s harder to put money aside.
Keep track of the content of the envelope by writing everything on the back of the envelope. When you go shopping for gifts, there is no way you can overspend, because all you have is the cash in your envelope. Now it’s time to get ready for the shopping part.
Shopping early for the holidays is something I highly recommend. When I see a certain deal, and I know my kids will enjoy that by the time the holidays come around, I will take advantage of the deal and hide the gifts until the holidays are near. Sometimes I even purchase gifts right after the holidays. because they are heavily discounted, and I put them aside for the next birthday or holidays. Of course, this could be any holiday like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I browse clearance sections every time I happen to be at a store, or I check websites like The Krazy Coupon Lady, to see if they have deals that I’d like to take advantage of. There are also many Facebook groups with Amazon deals and coupons.
Gifting your loved ones a homemade gift is super thoughtful. It shows that you put your heart and time into their gift. If you have a particular hobby, I highly recommend you put it to use. Whether you are good at knitting, crocheting, putting decals on t-shirts or glasses, or maybe you are an excellent baker, whatever it is that you are good at – make it yourself. Create blankets, t-shirts, homemade body scrubs, cookies, infused oils, or a photo album. These are great ways to save money, while still making a lovely impression.
Gift of time
Nothing is more valuable than your time. I personally think that spending quality time with your loved ones is worth more than any gift. You could create homemade coupons for your loved ones. You can search on websites like Canva, or just Google, to put something cute together. Just edit the coupon to your liking. For example, you can gift a coupon for a one-hour massage, a coupon for spending lazy Sunday baking cookies at home, or a coupon for a drive through family movie night. You can get as creative as you’d like to be! Whatever experience you’d like to experience with your loved ones, write it down on a coupon and they should be able to redeem it when they wish.
Plan a vacation
A family vacation may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re looking for frugal gifts, but hear me out on this one. I personally really value vacations. I try to go on vacation at least twice a year. Whether I am going by myself to recharge, or I am taking my family with me for a fun family vacation, I always prioritize making time and putting money aside for traveling. If you are anything like me, and already have a budget for traveling, you can double dip on the situation. You can reveal the vacation, that you had already planned, as a gift for the holidays. You could create some kind of coupon, or show the paperwork of an actual reservation. Now, the vacation can still be months away. But the gift can create a lot of excitement that will last for weeks or months until it’s time for the vacation. Plus it gives everyone time to prepare, and even do research on the places you plan on visiting.
Inexpensive gift ideas
I personally rather spend money on gifts for the kids than for the adults, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about making sure they feel special too. I like to set a lower budget for the adults in our family and get creative instead. Either I create a homemade gift for them, or I put together something inexpensive. First, think about what that person likes to do in their free time. What are some things they might need for their hobbies or personal enjoyment or what do they like to collect?
If I have a family member that loves to cook, I can put together a basket from Dollar Tree and fill it with things like oven mittens, cake mix, spatulas, and cupcake sprinkles and put it in a whisking bowl and wrap it up nicely. Or for my partner, I like to put together a basket with things to pamper each other, like massage oil, facial scrub, a facial mask, some candles, and some of his favorite snacks. One day I made him two bouquets. One was made of chicken wings and the other one was made of donut munchkins. This shows your loved ones that you have thought about their gift, regardless of the amount of money you’ve spent. Here are some inexpensive gift ideas:
- Succulents or plants
- Personalized mug
- Body scrub
- Bottle of wine (Aldi has a great selection starting at $3 per bottle)
- Soy wax candle
Gift exchange game
I grew up in The Netherlands, so I am not sure how popular this is here, but we used to play Secret Santa every year. All of our family members would come together months before the holidays and bring a potluck dish. Even this gathering felt like a special holiday because it would bring all of us together. We would enjoy ourselves and talk about the holidays. We would set rules and budgets and discuss other details. We typically had a budget of $15-$25 per person. We then wrote down our name and some of the things on our wishlist, within that budget, on a piece of paper, and then fold the piece of paper. All pieces of paper of each family member would be put together in a bowl, and we would then each draw a new one. On the holiday itself, we’d all gather again, and put all our gifts together, and we had to guess who our secret Santa was. I still have fond memories of this. The reason why I still like it is that then the holiday spending doesn’t have to be outrageous, in case you’d have to buy a gift for every single person.
Remember to enjoy the process
Whatever you decide to purchase or make gifts for your loved ones, it is important to remember that the holidays are about showing love and appreciation, rather than spending a lot of money. It is even okay to NOT spend money on gifts, or maybe just one gift per person. It is more about being together and enjoying quality time, than the amount of money you’ve spent on a person. So try not to stress too much about the holidays. Stick to your budget and lists, and what works best for you and your family, and don’t forget to enjoy the process.