15 Outside-the-Box Ways to Save Money on Christmas Presents This Year

Christmas is a joyous time, but it can be stressful. Coming up with the perfect gifts and finding ways to pay for them can ruin the magic. So this year, instead of feeling stressed, consider these 14 outside-the-box ways to save money on Christmas presents so you can enjoy the magical holiday.

1. Create a Budget

Don’t spend without planning. Create a budget so you know what you can spend, and then you can plan accordingly. When creating your gift-giving budget, don’t forget the incidentals like wrapping paper, tape, gift bags, boxes, and bows.

If you’re on a strict budget, stretch your dollar by shopping at Dollar Tree or Dollar General. You can also buy bulk gift bags and wrapping paper at warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco.

Don’t be upset if your budget is small. Instead, be proud of yourself for determining how much you can comfortably spend without going into credit card debt. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

When you have your budget, prioritize who you’re buying gifts for, such as your kids or spouse, and then work your way out.

2. Shop Before and After Christmas

There isn’t a rule that says you must shop on Black Friday or you can’t exchange gifts after Christmas. 

Sometimes the best sales are the day or two before Christmas and the few days following Christmas. This is because stores need to unload their inventory and when they have too much when Christmas day approaches, they lower prices significantly.

If you can put off the gift exchange until a week or so after Christmas, do it. Then, shop the day after Christmas, and you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll save compared to the highly advertised Black Friday sales that are sometimes more of a gimmick than saving you money.

3. Make a List and be Realistic

Be realistic about your gift-giving abilities. Sure, we’d love to give gifts to everyone we know, but if it’s not in the budget, then accept it.

Create a list of the most important people in your life who you feel obligated to exchange gifts with, and then if there’s money left, find little ways to let others in your life know you appreciate them.

Remember, it’s not about the size of the gift. Instead, it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to shop at designer stores or buy brand-name items. Sometimes something as simple as a coffee mug with a packet of hot chocolate for a friend or neighbor is enough to say, ‘hey, I appreciate you.’

Pinterest has thousands of great ideas for cheap Christmas gifts that fit any budget. 

4. Don’t Watch the Ads

It can be fun to check out the ads or read the thousands of advertisement emails we receive daily this time of year, but they encourage impulse spending.

Instead, set up a separate email account for sales emails and only check it periodically. When you see the ads often, you’re more likely to impulse buy or spend money on items, not on your list.

When you have a list prepared, search for the best price using Google or a price comparison app like Flipp or even the Amazon app. Did you know that scanning an item’s barcode on Amazon will show you the best prices? Do this each time you’re in a store and if Amazon has it cheaper, buy it there. 

5. Look for Free Shipping

If you’re shopping online, always try to get free shipping. Most stores offer free shipping at a certain dollar amount this time of year, so check out how much you must spend. Also, if you’re buying multiple gifts from the same store, buy them simultaneously to reach the threshold.

Search for a free shipping code if you don’t see a free shipping offer on the retailer’s website. A quick search on Google or a coupon site will often produce free shipping codes without any dollar threshold. 

6. Do a Secret Santa

You aren’t obligated to buy for every family member or friend at a gathering. Yes, it’s a nice feeling, but it gets expensive. So this year, instead, suggest a Secret Santa exchange. Rather than buying one gift for each person, everyone pulls a name out of a hat and buys for one person. 

This way, everyone still gets a gift, but no one goes broke trying to keep up with the gift-giving. Discuss the dollar limit that’s best for everyone; no one will feel bad for not being able to afford the same gifts as others.

7. Make Gifts

There’s nothing wrong with homemade gifts; they often have more meaning. You don’t have to be crafty, either. Baked goods, a DIY sugar scrub, or even gifting your time is a great option.

For example, if you have an older family member who can’t clean their house like they used to, give them a day of cleaning their house or helping them organize their closets. Get creative and think about what your recipients need the most. Oftentimes it’s not something from a store. 

8. Use Cashback Sites

When you shop online, make sure you make money back doing it. The major cashback sites, like Rakuten and Swagbucks, pay you to shop. This time of year, they offer great cashback options, meaning you get money back for shopping.

Rakuten pays once every quarter, so you get a nice fat check every three months, and Swagbucks lets you cash out at $3. In addition, with Swagbucks, you can redeem your points for cash or gift cards to your favorite stores. 

If you’ve already earned points back from Swagbucks, cash them in for gift cards to where you need to buy gifts, and it’s like getting your gifts for free. 

9. Use Credit Card or Cashback Rewards to Buy Gifts

If you have reward credit cards with accumulated rewards, use them to buy Christmas gifts. But if you don’t have any rewards available, use the rewards credit cards to buy gifts and earn cashback.

Make sure you stick to your budget, though. Using a credit card doesn’t mean spending what you want. You should pay the balance in full when the bill arrives. Put the cash you saved for the gifts in an account you won’t touch and use it to pay the card balance before the due date.

10. Put Together Group Gifts

Consider group gifts if you have a large family or other groups to exchange gifts. You can often buy something much nicer but spend less money. For example, if you buy a $100 gift for someone and ten people pitch in, you only pay $10.

11.  Shop Outlet Stores

If you have outlet stores near you, shop there first. They often have the same styles as the regular retail stores but at a much lower price. Many outlet stores run sales on top of their lower prices too.

If you don’t have outlet stores near you, check out discount stores like TJMaxx and Marshalls for the best deals on name-brand products that would cost much more at regular retail stores. Shop these stores in-person and online, as there are different deals.

12. Buy Discounted Gift Cards to Buy Gifts

Did you know you can buy discounted gift cards from the most popular retail stores? Sites like Raise.com sell gift cards for as much as 20%+ off the regular price. So, for example, if you buy a $50 gift card for 20% off, you’d pay $40 but have $50 to spend.

If you don’t find the gift cards you need on Raise, Costco and Sam’s Club offer discount gift cards, and Target RedCard holders get 5% off on all purchases, including gift cards. 

13. Skip the Adults

There isn’t a rule stating you must buy gifts for the adults in your family. If money is tight, suggest that you only exchange it for the kids. Adults can buy what they want anytime, but Christmas is a magical time for kids. Keep the magic alive while keeping your budget intact.

14. Set a One Gift Limit or Dollar Amount Limit

Don’t be embarrassed to suggest to your family members that you limit gift-giving to one gift per person or set a total dollar limit for each person. This eliminates embarrassment or guilt when exchanging gifts if one person spent much more than another.

15. Re-gift

Re-gifting isn’t as bad as it sounds. If you received unopened gifts you won’t use or still have the tags, re-gift them. Just be mindful about who gave you the gift to ensure you aren’t giving it back to the original gifter.

Save on Christmas Presents FAQs

How much should you save for Christmas?

There’s no right or wrong amount to spend at Christmas, but the average person spends $50 – $100 per family member and $20 – $50 per friend or acquaintance. So the best way to save for Christmas is to figure out how much you spend each year. Next, divide the total by 12. This is the amount you should save each month to have enough money for Christmas gifts.

What are some simple savings tricks?

It’s not as hard as you think to save for Christmas gifts. The key is to automate your savings. For example, don’t pay yourself last. Instead, set up direct deposit into your savings account, setting aside 10% of your paycheck if possible.
If you can’t do direct deposit, consider cutting back on some expenses or starting a side hustle, so you have extra money to put in a savings account each month.

Is a $25 gift card too cheap?

No gift card is too cheap; it’s the thought that counts. For co-workers and friends, for example, a $5 Starbucks gift card buys them a cup of coffee. They’ll think of you when they use their card and appreciate the gesture.
Even if you can only gift a $10 gift card to a relative, there isn’t a certain amount you must gift to be ‘appropriate.’ Only give what you can afford, which won’t put you in debt.

What is the best way to give gifts to a child?

Start a new tradition with your kids this year to save money and keep gift-giving under control. Consider giving one item they need, one they want, and one to read (or an activity if they don’t like reading). This hits all the top categories and doesn’t overdo the spending or gift expectations children have.

Final Thoughts – Saving Money on Christmas Gifts

This Christmas, think of yourself first. Your budget is most important. Don’t feel obligated to spend a certain amount or give gifts to everyone you know. Instead, only do what you can afford and think outside the box for ways to save money on the gifts you want to give. 

Kim Pinnelli is a personal finance freelance writer and koopy.com contributor. She lives in the Chicago suburbs, writing from home for the last 13 years. Kim enjoys helping people understand personal finances and writes on topics about saving money, investing, planning for retirement, and ways to increase income. In her free time, Kim enjoys hanging out with her 3 children, reading, crocheting, and spending time outdoors.

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