Budget for Christmas

How to Budget for Christmas This Year (plus free printable holiday budget sheets)

Let’s face it, 2020 has been pretty much a global disaster and if you’re like many people, you’re facing a really tough Christmas. In less than three months, we’ll be celebrating . . . but what if you don’t have any extra money to budget for Christmas? I’m going to show you how you can start right now to plan for the holidays to make them the best ever, even if you have limited funds.

If you’re thinking that you just don’t have the funds to even think about budgeting for Christmas, don’t worry. I’m going to give you a few ideas to boost those funds at the end of this post. But first, how to set aside money specifically for the holidays.

How to Budget for Christmas in 2020

There are several areas where we tend to spend money during the holidays and you need to consider these. They include:

Gifts: For most families, gifts are the biggest expenses for the holidays. You have a few choices to cut down on the amount you spend when it comes to gifts. You can talk to other family members and agree that only kids will get gifts this year, you can buy second-hand, or on sale, and you can make your gifts this year. Now is the time to start planning this out, though.

Food: Holidays are a time to get together with friends and family, which means food. Lots and lots of food. Then there’s Christmas dinner, which may end up being huge, depending on how many people you’re having over. The turkey, the sides, and of course, the delicious pies. One way to cut back on costs is to have a potluck where you provide the turkey and everyone else brings their favorite side dish to share.

Travel: Do you usually travel to visit family for the holidays? If that’s still the plan this year, you need to start budgeting for those trips now. It can also help to track flight prices so you can buy when they drop.

Activities: Do you usually visit a Christmas village, take part in gift exchanges, and do other activities that cost money around Christmas? These can seem like small expenses, but they add up pretty fast. Look for free activities that are available this year in your area, or just try to do more stuff with friends and family at home. For example:

  • Cookie baking party
  • Drive through lighted streets
  • Hold a hot chocolate picnic in the backyard

There are plenty of things you can do for cheap or free and have just as much fun. Plus, if you’re trying to social distance, doing things at home is better anyway.

Decor: Do you love to decorate for Christmas? I personally love to browse the holiday aisles in stores and pick up some new goodies to add to my existing decor. If you’re short on funds, I suggest skipping this and just using what you have this year. If you have a few extra dollars, hit the dollar store, or get craft supplies to make your own crafts, which can be a fun activity on its own.

These are the main categories you’ll want to budget for Christmas and if you haven’t started yet, now is the time to begin planning.

Budgeting for Christmas Gifts

Start with the gifts. Write down the name of every person you will plan to give a gift to and then come up with something you feel would work well for them. Add this to the list beside their name and put the cost next to this. You may have multiple gifts per person, of course, but this will help you figure out how many gifts you need to get and what to budget for them.

Once you’ve added up all the gifts, you can divide the total amount by the number of paychecks you have left. That’s how much you need to save each paycheck in order to afford the gifts. BUT, there’s a way to save money on this if you don’t have enough coming in.

Google Alerts: If there is a big ticket item that you want to get, such as a PS4 for your kids, set up a Google Alert for it. This will let you know if and when it goes on sale anywhere.

Reverse Image Search: Did you know you can often find things much cheaper just by doing a reverse image search? If you need a specific blouse your sister is dying to have, reverse image search the image on the site you found it on and see if it’s cheaper elsewhere.

Make It Yourself: Sometimes, the best gift is the gift you create with your own two hands. If you are good at something like sewing, carpentry, crocheting, or similar, why not make your own gifts? This is a particularly good way to handle gift exchanges or teacher’s gifts, as well. You can make something that would be worth a lot in the store, but is made with love.

Find Coupons: Never buy anything without a coupon or sale price! If you’re buying online, there are a lot of companies that can help you find coupons for the items you’re trying to get. One excellent option is Honey, which is a browser add-on that automatically looks for coupons for whatever you’re planning to buy.

Set up a bank account or a piggy bank, envelope, etc. and start putting your selected amount into it each payday to start saving for the gifts you want to give.

Budgeting for Holiday Meals

The meals for the holidays are often expensive. Even a simple cheese plate for a get together can quickly add up. This year may be different and smaller, but you’re probably still planning on a fairly big meal, so let’s look at how you can budget for this.

First, make a menu. It may seem odd to plan a menu several months or weeks in advance, but this is necessary. Once you have the list, add the prices for the ingredients for each part of the meal. Now, you can select the items that don’t go bad, such as tinned or frozen cranberries, pumpkin pie filling, etc. These are the things you’ll watch for at the supermarket and in flyers. If they go on sale, pick them up now and you’ll have your meal prep done early.

Another tip for holiday meals is to learn to make things from scratch. It’s cheaper to make your own dinner rolls than to buy them, for example, and often tastier.

Budgeting for Holiday Travel

Do you have some family to visit this year? If there are more of you than them, consider offering to pay for their flight to you. For example, if you normally take your family of four to visit Gramma, who lives on her own, you could pay for her to fly to you instead of going to her. This immediately drops the cost to just one-quarter of the original.

It can also help to look at driving instead of flying. It takes longer, but it might be more cost-effective in the long run. It’s up to you to determine the best option for your family.

Finally, add up the usual cost for the trip and start saving toward it. However, you should also set up alerts for your flights to see when you can buy the tickets cheaper. Another good option is to use points to fly or use a points or cashback card to pay for all travel expenses. While the benefits aren’t instant, they do help you save money in the long run.

Making Extra Cash for the Holidays

Maybe you read the above sections and wondered how on earth you could save and budget for the holidays when you’re already stretched to the max. The simplest thing to do is make a little extra money. This can be done by:

  • Selling off items you no longer need
  • Selling clothing on Poshmark
  • Driving for Lyft or Uber
  • Offering your services as a housecleaner, car washer, yard worker, etc.
  • Putting up lights for people
  • Selling baked goods to neighbors
  • Babysitting on your off time
  • Earning Amazon gift cards on sites like Swagbucks and InboxDollars
  • Create printables and sell on Etsy or TeachersPayTeachers

There are lots of little ways you can earn a small amount at a time. There’s nothing wrong with making $5 or $10 and it will all help you create the perfect Christmas for your family.

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for . . . the printables. I’ve made up these simple sheets that you can download and print off, so just click on the image you want and save to your computer.

Christmas Menu page Christmas Gift Budget page Christmas Travel Budget Christmas Food Budget page

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