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I'm Dreaming of a Cheap Christmas ...
Top Ten Budget Ideas for Saving on The Holidays

Count down the ways to save money when shopping for the holidays ...

cheap Christmas giftsJust up ahead, check out how to have a cheap and affordable Christmas for already overstretched budgets, including some of the best time-tested tips and ideas for saving big on gift giving, family get-togethers, or holiday entertaining:

10. Make it yourself! Fill mason jars with colorfully wrapped candy. Stuff hot chocolate mix packs into a mug, and top with a bow. Amateur gourmets can bake up a batch of homemade Christmas cookies, make festive holiday cupcakes from scratch, or homemade Christmas chocolate. Craftier types can follow directions for making knit scarves or sweaters, or create a memorable keepsake or scrapbook from family photos.

9. What's for Christmas dinner? Save money with "hired help" by asking relatives and friends to bring chips, dips, drinks and side dishes. A communal effort makes it all the more affordable, and more fun and festive in the process. Meanwhile, keep track of special savings in supermarket circulars for special deals on roasts, aluminum pans, napkins and paper towels. (Also see: Thanksgiving on a Budget.)

8. Gift exchanges for large families or groups of friends? Two words: Secret Santa.

7. Start a holiday tradition by calling a family conference or e-mailing family members to suggest limiting holiday gifts to books, or holiday ornaments, or otherwise keeping it to a minimum money value this year.

6. If you have married couples on your gift list, buy ONE gift and and match it to their interests - whether it's gardening gifts, cookbooks, wine gift baskets, board games or travel guides. For home decor think scented candles, vases, picture frames, fruit bowls or party platters or table centerpiece.

5. Shop at the bookstore. Is there a Barnes & Nobles bookstore located near home or work? Head straight for the holiday discount aisle for great savings on cheap coffee table books, decorative bookends, calendars, CDs, videos and kids toys.

4. Buy in bulk and watch for special holiday savings at Costco and Sam's Club. Purchasing in bulk also means looking for sales-by-the-case at local wine stores, or even lottery tickets you can buy by the dozen and tuck inside holiday greeting cards.

3. Go green for Christmas. Give gifts of flowers, bonsai, or potted plants like lucky bamboo or supermarket orchids. Dried flower sachets, scented creams, or gift baskets made up of natural foods and treats also make for great homemade eco gifts.

2. Shop online. The biggest Christmas savings happen right here online. Take advantage of Christmas sales and clearances offered by online stores who offer discount prices and free shipping during the holidays just to get you to browse. Squeeze every last penny out of your budget with easy online comparison shopping and don't forget to check out even greater savings with related discount codes and coupons.

1. Wait til the last minute. At the larger department stores you'll discover huge savings on final sales days before Christmas. Save time and gift wrapping by buying prepackaged gift sets of perfumes and cologne, hats and scarves, leather gloves, toys, and holiday candy.

For those on a really tight budget, also don't miss what's on sale at ridiculously low prices at Duane Reade, Rite-Aid, Walgreens or CVS which often slash prices by half or more on holiday gift, wrap, and decorations in the days leading up to Christmas.

Finally, remember it's the thought that counts. Keeping the spirit of Christmas does not always have to result in breaking the bank, especially when everyone else is struggling to make ends meet.

'Tis the season to be creative!... with warm wishes for a simple, stress-free Christmas.

More about saving at Christmas this year:

Giving Christmas Gifts on the Cheap

Cheap Gifts: 51 Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas

also see -> Black Friday Sales | Gift Ideas & Tips for Everyone on Your List



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