Christmas shopping can be stressful enough, just attempting to find the right gift for everyone. But guess what else it can be even more stressful
Discounts are an easy way to save some money on holiday shopping. And they come in all shapes and sizes during the most wonderful time of the year. All you have to do is be diligent and patient and wait for the right deal!
It should go without saying, watch for something to go on sale. During the Christmas season, every retailer is competing for your business. Everyone has some kind of sale going. Shop the best sale or ask for price matching from a competitor. Especially online, there are a lot of amazing bargains to be had!
Watch your email for special discount codes. Lots of retailers will send their email subscribers special/extra discount codes. For example, Kohls might have a 20% off coupon online on their website that you can use… but as a member of their emails, I might have a 30% off your entire purchase coupon as a special incentive. Not only do your special discount codes get you a discount, sometimes they get you free shipping too!
Rakuten & Ibotta
Rakuten used to be Ebates, and it’s a cashback rewards program. It’s simple to use, and you can earn some cash back on your purchases as you shop through the season.
All you need to do is go to the Rakuten website each day and see the cashback deals for the day. You can also install their extension on your browser and it’ll flash and let you know if you happen to go to a website where they have a deal. (Don’t ask me how to install that. I have mommy superpowers. Not techie superpowers!) If any of the discounts apply to your shopping needs, follow their link over to the store website and start earning your rewards. Each quarter, Rakuten mails you a check for your rebates. I usually get $30-$40 back from the holiday season Rakuten check. Every little bit helps!
Ibotta is the same idea as Rakuten. It’s also cash back for purchases. But Ibotta is more geared towards your everyday purchases like groceries and household items. You download the app on your phone and before you go shopping review the specials, add any specials you want to your list, and then later upload your receipt. Bam! Cashback rewards!
Never pay for shipping. Please, oh please, I beg you. Keep an eye out on the item you want to buy. There will come a day in the holiday season that there will be free shipping on your purchase.
Or if you need to hit a spending threshold for free shipping, such as spend $75 or more for free shipping, take a look at the site and see if you can shop for anyone else on your list to get to the free shipping threshold.
Ship To Recipient
If you are going to be shipping the gifts to your loved ones anyway, just have it shipped directly from the retailer, saving you time and effort. Most places will even gift wrap for you now for a small fee. And that fee is cheaper than mailing the gift yourself after you wrap it!
Assets on Hand
Unused Gift Cards
Do you have any unused gift cards that you could use to purchase Christmas gifts? I don’t necessarily give the unused gift cards as gifts, because you never know with expiration dates when they might run out. But I love to use a gift card to buy a gift for someone else! No money out of your pocket that way!
Sometimes it’s ok to re-gift! Occasionally I’ll re-gift to someone
For example, let’s say someone gives you a crockpot for Christmas. But you already have one or two of your own. And you really like the ones you have. And you truly don’t need another crockpot. Perhaps you can’t return this gifted crockpot? Enter re-gifting! Give that to someone on the other side of the family that’s just starting out in their first apartment and needs kitchen stuff.
I think re-gifting is fine. As long as you pay close attention to who gave you which gift on the front end!
Credit Card Rewards
Save up your credit card rewards and cash them in for Christmas shopping. We put most of our everyday expenses on a Visa that accumulates Amazon Points. So come Christmas, cash those little suckers in! It’s usually plenty to cover a few gifts at least!
Barter/Ask For Discount
Depending on what kind of gifts you are looking to give, you might be able to barter and/or ask for a discount on some items.
For bartering, let’s say you are a graphic designer. You could offer a local store or Etsy shop to design a free flyer or promotional ad for them in exchange for some discount on a gift you want to purchase from their shop.
Do you have a website? Offer to feature or promote a store on your website/social media in exchange for a small discount on your purchase.
Ask for a Discount
If you are buying multiple gifts from a smaller store, ask for a discount. For example, I was ordering some necklaces for all of the women in the family a few years back. I asked the shop owner if I was ordering 6 necklaces if she’d consider a group discount. And she did!
You never know until you ask!
We’ve exhausted how to get discounts on gifts. Now let’s switch gears to spending less by buying less.
If you have gone through the different kinds of discounts on gifts you can find, and all the gift giving assets available to you, and you still need to cut down on the expenses, try buying less. Buying less means spending less.
If you have a large extended family, suggest drawing names among family members. That way you are only purchasing a gift for the person you draw the name of, instead of the entire family. Set up the rules however you like (Adults draw adults, kids draw kids, etc.). Put a spending limit on the gifts if you want. Set it up in whatever way works for you and your extended family.
Spend a Little Less
Try to narrow down the budget a bit. If you usually spend $50 per person on gifts, attempt to knock that down to $35 or $40. Those savings add up quickly!
No Gifts/Kids Only Gifts
Institute a no gift policy. Or do gifts for kids only. We have a set of dear friends that we see for Christmas Day every single year. And the adults of the group decided years ago, no more gifts among the adults. None of us knew what the others wanted, and we all have everything we could possibly need. So, we just do gifts for the kids now, and it works beautifully.
Split a Gift
Perhaps there is a nicer gift you’d like to give that’s simply out of the budget, but you know the recipient would love to have it? Suggest splitting the gift with another family member and give it as a joint present. I love doing this. It knocks the recipient off of 2 people’s gift lists!
Donation to Charity
Donating to charity is always a good option. The money goes to good use and you can feel good about your spending. And most charities are happy to take whatever dollar amount you’d like to give. Usually, you get a nice little certificate for your donation. And usually, the certificate doesn’t say the amount of the donation. So, if you really need to cut back, this is a good way to do it without saying you needed to cut back.
For example, have a dog lover in the family? Make a small donation to the local animal shelter in that family member’s name. It will be the thought that counts and not the dollar amount.
Shrink The Gift List
If you are trying to really cut the budget down, shrink your gift giving list. I did this a few years ago when I started to stay home with our kids and stopped working. There were people that we really didn’t see all that often, didn’t see their kids all that often, and had no idea what to get for them! And finally, I decided enough was enough and eliminated them from the Christmas list.
I did politely tell them I was cutting way back on the Christmas budget and that we weren’t buying gifts this year and asked them to do the same and not buy for us. I did suggest a playground date and pizza night spending time together instead, and they were as thrilled as I was to eliminate their names from the Christmas list.
Give the Gift of Time
So, you want to cut the spending but still give a gift? How about the gift of time? Offer to babysit for family members once a month or quarter and let them have some nights out and get a break. You could print off a fun certificate or coupon book to wrap up as your gift to the family member.
If babysitting isn’t your thing, whatever offer would be of use to your family member would totally work!
Get Creative and Crafty
You can definitely save some money if you get crafty and make Christmas gifts. And if you enjoy crafting and have a supply stash, you can probably make a TON of gifts without having to purchase many supplies. And crafting supplies are usually very inexpensive! (Watch for sales and use a coupon!)
Making crafts definitely won’t save you on time though! So, start these early so you won’t be stressed trying to finish all the crafts right before Christmas.
As tempting as it is to buy the new pretty paper each year (Guilty, as charged…), use up what you have on hand. I’m betting I could probably wrap for 5 years… at least… with my stash of wrapping paper at home. Use what you have on hand instead of buying new.
And save nice gift bags you get to re-use during the next holiday season. Those babies are expensive! Don’t toss them out!
And if you do need wrapping supplies, try to buy after Christmas for the next year. I know I got some last year for 75% off at Hobby Lobby and 90% off at Walgreens!
Cut Expenses Drastically
Don’t be afraid to cut out expenses if you want to drastically save money. You can cut way back or even eliminate some expenses altogether.
I’m guilty as charged on Christmas cards. I buy the matching outfits, hire the photographer, kill myself to clean up the house for the said photoshoot, pay for the Christmas card order, take the time to address and mail the cards AND pay postage.
It’s nearly $500 when all is all said and done. $500 to send cards out to people I only mail a card to once a year that I’ve mostly not seen or spoken to in years. So that I can show them my kids are still super cute? Why the HELL am I doing that?? I’m pretty sure that’s the very definition of madness.
Just Say No
My challenge to myself this year is to still take the sweet little pictures of the kids in front of the tree or wherever, because I enjoy those Christmas memories. But, I’ll take them myself, with our super nice camera. And then post a Merry Christmas message on social media and call it good. With an extra $500 in my pocket. And untold amounts of time saved.
It seems wrong not to send the Christmas card. But that’s just because I’ve always done it. Not because it’s actually wrong to not send the cards. It’s fine to not send cards! No one cares! They are busy trying to make their Christmas magic happen.
I love to get the special Hallmark Ornaments each year. And you know what? Those little suckers are freaking expensive. But guess what I learned last year? If you are a little flexible on which ornaments you want, they go on sale in the stores and online immediately after Christmas. Like, BIG on sale. 50-75% off on sale.
So this year, I’m picking out several ornaments I like, and then I’ll watch after Christmas for the sales to start. Then I’ll order the ornaments they have on sale and we’ll have the next year for the tree.
Careful and timely planning can also help you save some serious cash over the holiday season.
Send Gifts Via Others
Be smart about shipping gifts to family. First, is any closely located family member going to see the far away relatives before Christmas? Like for Thanksgiving? Just send your gifts with those relatives when they travel to see the family (if they are driving, of course…). Save on the shipping altogether that way!
If there is no other way, and you MSUT ship Christmas presents, make sure to do it early in the season so you don’t have to pay through the nose to get it there on time. (I’m looking at myself in the mirror on this one!)
Also, shipping costs vary according to weight. Don’t send lead paperweights for Christmas gifts. Just saying…
Make a list, Check it twice
Stick to the list, stick to the budget. Stick to the BUDGET. Repeat this mantra over and over again during the holiday season. If you need help with your Christmas budget, read this post about smart Christmas budgeting.
Don’t buy extra stuff. Don’t buy yourself one of everything because it’s an awesome deal. And you’ve worked hard this year. And you deserve it. Cause, that’s where you start overspending a ton! Stick to the budget. Refer to it often and make sure you are on track.
My Favorite Gifts for $20 or Less:
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from those links, I may make a small commission. See our full Disclosure and Disclaimer Policy here.
If you need help finding some great gifts that really won’t break the bank, try one of these options! I’ve thrown in gifts for men, women and kids!
- Electric Indoor S’mores Maker
- 12 Cocoas of Christmas Set
- Classic Tea Variety Box
- Natural Soy Candle Gift Sets
- Portable 39-Piece Tool Kit
- Kid’s Sticker Mosaic Kits
- Learning Resources’ Counting Cows
- Grow and Glow Terrarium
- Grow Your Own Herb Starter Kit
- Slippers for Mama
- Two State Grandparent Sign
Wrap Up – Easy Ways to Save Money On Christmas Gifts
Christmas is SO expensive and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. If you have a simple plan going into your shopping, you really can stay on budget and even manage to save a lot of money along the way. I hope that some of these ideas have inspired you for your Christmas shopping and spending. I’d love to hear ideas you have on how to save money on Christmas!
Until then, just keep shuffling!
- The Smart Way to Budget for Christmas
- The 6-Week (Stress-Free!) Christmas Planning Guide
- Top Toy Picks for Your Special Needs Child