Guest post by Steph from The Cheapskate Cook
When my husband and I got married, we lived in a renovated shed and had a budget that matched. I was an avid Money Saving Mom® reader, and although we’ve moved out of the shed and added two kids to our family, I’m still learning how to save money… and I’m still an avid Money Saving Mom® reader.
Over the years on tight budgets, we’ve learned a lot about celebrating the holidays on a shoestring. Here are a few things that have worked for us:
1. Use a system for family gifts
We celebrate Christmas morning with my parents and siblings, and as the kids have grown up, started school, gotten jobs, or struggled to get jobs, we decided that instead of everyone getting gifts for everyone else, we would draw names.
We also pitch in to fill the stockings, so each person gets a larger gift for one person and a small stocking stuffer for each family member. That way we can enjoy shopping for each person but don’t have the pressure of buying large gifts for everyone.
2. Don’t feel like you need to buy gifts for everyone
For most years, Chris and I just decided not to get each other gifts. It was a tradition to travel to see family over the holidays, and so making the arrangements to do that was our gift to each other. And surprisingly, when we were surrounded by people we loved on Christmas morning and we knew we were intentional about making that happen, the gifts weren’t missed. (Although I admit the other gifts from family certainly helped!)
We’ve also been selective about gifts for our friends and general acquaintances. Some years, it was wiser to not give those kinds of gifts. However, gifts like fresh bread (I love this Very-Little-Bother-Bread recipe) and honey butter can be fun, frugal, and even a welcome alternative to the cookies so many people have in abundance.
3. Host a cookie exchange or white elephant party
Invite several friends over for an evening of coffee, hot chocolate, and treats. For the cookie exchange party, each family brings a small plate of cookies and little bags filled with 2-4 cookies to add to the exchange. When guests leave, they grab a few bags of cookies to take home.
The white elephant party is a classic. Instead of purchasing a gift, wrap something you already have at home. Then each person chooses from the pile of gifts, and you never know what you’ll end up with.
4. Remember the point to all of this
Giving gifts is fun, and someday, if we continue to use our money wisely, we’ll be able to give even better gifts. But ultimately, this season isn’t just about that, as wonderful as generosity is.
It’s about remembering and celebrating the One who gave us the best gifts: the gift of a relationship with Him and the gift of salvation. And we can do that no matter what our budget is.
When Steph and her husband got married, they lived in a renovated shed and had a grocery budget that matched. As a passionate whole-foodie, Steph was determined to continue eating healthy, minimally-processed foods on their shoestring budget. So The Cheapskate Cook was born.
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