For many of us, Christmas could feel more like a burden than a celebration.
Because as prices rise, purchasing gifts is becoming harder. We’re having to stretch our budgets and for some, this means turning to financial products such as credit cards.
In fact, nearly 42% of people who took part in a survey from U.S. News & World Report in November said they expect to go into debt to pay for gifts and travel during the holiday season.
And 19.6% of those who were asked, said they would use a credit card to finance the holidays.
(We hate to sound naggy but only borrow money if you know you’re able to pay the funds back. And preferably before the interest has a chance to rack up.)
Unfortunately, 31% of 2021 holiday shoppers who purchased gifts with a credit card still haven’t paid off their balances.
But Christmas doesn’t need to be about spending tons. Quality time with loved ones is what matters the most (even those annoying family members who like to start a political debate over Christmas dinner. Err ok, actually spending time with select loved ones is what matters most).
So to help keep the costs down, we’ve rounded up a list of free or cheap ways you can spread the holiday cheer and prevent yourself from falling into the debt trap ⚠️
Elfster Secret Santa
Try out Elfster’s free Secret Santa this year instead of buying presents for each family member. Draw a name and purchase a gift for that one person. Set a price limit with your family and go with the lowest person’s budget.
Not only will it help keep you save money but it’ll take the stress away from buying presents for those picky family members 👀
How does Elfster work?
All you need to do is give Elfster all the names and email addresses of the people who are taking part. Each participant will then receive an email inviting them to join and Elfster’s elves will generate the game pairing up the people in your group.
For those of you who don’t want to receive a totally random present you’ll probably never use, there’s the option to create a Wishlist 🗒️
Make a budget
If you need help figuring out how much you’re able to spend on gifts this year, create a free budget with Cleo to help you see what you can realistically afford.
She’s not like a regular money app, she’s a cool money app 💅
And if you ever go over your budget, Cleo will playfully shame you via GIFs and throw harsh burns about how much you’ve spent and how little you’ve saved.
Welcome to 🔥 Roast Mode 🔥
Why is budgeting important?
Setting a budget helps create financial stability. It’ll separate your income from your expenditure, which can help prevent you from spending more than what you are able to so that you’ve always got enough money to cover food, bills, and other essentials.
And it can help you save 💸
Before you buy, compare prices
🎤🔊 May I have your attention please 🔊🎤
Always compare prices online first and find the cheapest ways to gift within seconds. If you don’t, you could be missing out on an opportunity to save a decent amount 🔍
Protect your money at all costs 🙌
To use Google Shopping, all you need to do is enter the name of the item into the search bar and once you’ve found the item you’re searching for, select ‘compare prices from over 5 stores’ and it’ll pull up a list of prices for different retailers.
Other popular comparison sites include:
Looking for more ways to keep the costs down? Here’s a list of 14 money hacks you need to try.
Free online Christmas cards
If you’ve got access to a printer, Greetings Island is your new best friend 💖
You have access to tons of Christmas cards which are totally free. There’s some you’ll need to pay for but these are clearly marked as ‘Premium’ but the free cards are just as cute.
PSA: you can also get free cards for other occasions ✨
Free gift checks
If you’re someone who sticks to their word, pledge to do something nice with Canva's free gift checks instead of splashing out on gifts.
Perhaps breakfast in bed for your partner, a three course home cooked dinner, or if you wanna be extra kind you could offer to do all the washing up in 2023…
No amount of money could buy a better present than that 🍽️
Free gift exchange
Gifting doesn’t always need to drain the life out of your wallet. If you’ve got a gift you received last year which you no longer want (perhaps from an ex), trade it with your family and friends.
Your trash could be someone else’s treasure 💅
Just make sure the person who gifted you the items last year doesn’t get them back.
Gift exchange ideas:
🧸 Kids toys
🖼️ Photo album of you and your ex
And if you wanna make it more like a Secret Santa, DrawNames is a free gift exchange generator you could use.
Many people don’t realise that people thrift stores often have items which have never been used or worn before (sometimes designer). It’s the same with popular marketplace apps like Depop and Poshmark.
So if you’ve spotted something you think your loved ones might like, check out these apps and thrift stores near you to see if you can get them a bit cheaper.
PSA: some sellers may not accept returns.
And if you have stuff you no longer want, the holiday season is one of the best times to sell. Here’s how you could make some extra cash on Depop and watch the money roll in 💸
After Christmas sales
Gifting after Christmas Day might sound a bit ✨ bizarre ✨ but as there’s usually plenty of after-Christmas sales which could help you save a few dollars.
Typically, the dates between December 26th-31st are known for some of the best after Christmas sales.
And if you don’t wanna be amongst all the chaos at the mall, you’ll be able to find tons of deals online too.
Gift a plant
Give the gift that grows 🪴
If you’re already a parent to some indoor plants, Clever Bloom has a blog post which explains how you can multiply your plants and gift them to your friends and family.
And not only do plants add more life to your home, they also come with many health benefits.
The benefits of houseplants:
🌱 Boost moods, productivity, and creativity 🌱 Reduces stress and anxiety 🌱 Minimize headaches by improving air quality
If you need me, I’ll be at the garden center.
Homemade Christmas gifts
From homemade candy to photo frames, The Pioneer Woman has tons of DIY Christmas gifts for your family and friends.
Peanut butter fudge – the perfect pairing 🥜
All you need is sugar, milk, salt, peanut butter, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, and roasted peanuts. Easy.
Mint sugar scrub – not for eating 🍬
To make the scrub, you’ll just need coconut oil, sugar, peppermint extract, and green food coloring.
Free festive coloring for the kids
Crayola and Super Coloring have tons of festive coloring pages you can print for free to keep the kids busy whilst you sit back and relax. And if the kids haven’t yet made a Wishlist for Santa, you can print one off here for them to fill out.
If you’re looking for some easy DIY crafts inspo, Crayola has lots of ideas including penguin wrapping paper, elf ornaments, and snowman lanterns ⛄
Norad Santa tracker
Clearly Santa isn’t worried about gas prices because on December 24th, he’ll be doing his annual world-wide trip delivering all the gifts.
Coming soon, to a chimney near you 🎅
And whilst you wait, head over to the website where the kids (or grownups) can unlock a new game each day 🎲
Free letter from Santa
Visit Package From Santa to print a free letter for Santa. It’s probably one for the kids but adult believers are welcome too. No judgement here, we all got to believe in something.
There’s a few annoying ads which will ask you if you want to make a purchase but ignore these as the letters are completely free so you won’t need to pay a. single. dime.
We’re so here for it.
Before you leave us to work on your DIY crafts and peanut butter fudge…
💖 2022 has been a challenging year for lots of children and families in America, and around the world. So if you’re able to, here’s a few charities who are taking toys and clothes donations… 💖
Back in 2020, it was estimated that one in five children (19%) wouldn’t receive a Christmas present as parents said they couldn’t afford to buy gifts without going into debt, which is truly heartbreaking.
And with the cost of living on the rise, this year could be even more difficult for some.
Here’s a list of the top 10 charities that help children at Christmas time 🧸
So hopefully now you have a few ways to help prevent you from overspending this Christmas. And remember, it’s not all about spending tons of money ✨
Planning on traveling over the holiday period? Here’s how to find the cheapest flights.
Enjoy this post? Give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. And of course, if you want to try the best money app in the world for free, just hit this link right here.
Big love. Cleo 💙