6 Ways to Save on Christmas Gifts

The holiday frenzy of shopping can be confusing and lead to overspending. Consider these ways to save on Christmas gifts.

jar of money savings in front of small lit christmas tree

Do you ever look at all the deals rolling through your social media feed and tighten your grip on my pocketbook? As the holiday season continues, so do the invitations to buy more, spend more, eat more — all in the name of making merrier.

Sure, there are germs out there we need to be wary of, but overspending is something else that we need to guard against.

How can you celebrate the holidays and still save money on Christmas gifts?

With six kids, I know that our Christmas spending could easily mushroom into a giant cloud of buyer’s remorse if I wasn’t careful. So, I wait. I examine my options. I look for ways to save money on Christmas gifts.

Ways to Save on Christmas Gifts

If you, too, want to be generous without going broke, consider these tips that have served us well over the years.

gift wrapped in brown paper and white filmy bow

1. Set a budget for Christmas gifts.

I know, I said the dreaded b-word. Over the years, since we went debt-free and established savings buckets for different expenses, I’ve learned the beauty of budgets. Call them allowances if you prefer a more positive spin on the word, but trust me, a budget will help you save money on Christmas gifts.

If you know you only have $100 to spend, you’re going to prioritize better. You’re going to think through your options before you blow it on something stupid. 

On the other hand, if you throw caution to the wind, you might as well throw money out the window. Set a Christmas budget and stick to it.

And next year, set that budget in January so you can save a little each money and have cash to play with next holiday season.

2. Plan your purchases carefully.

This is the hold up for me. I need to know what exactly I’m getting before I can truly go shopping. Often times I don’t know what I want when the Prime Day or Black Friday sales roll around.

I know some folks shop all year long. I think that’s great. However, for my family, the thing that the kids are interested in in July is not the thing that will surprise and delight them in December. I don’t think that they are fickle, per se, but they are kids and their interests change a bit over time. Heck! Mine do, too.

December is really the best time for me to shop for our family’s Christmas presents.

That said, over the years we’ve learned that what we think the kids want may or may not be on Target. At the same time, our kids weren’t really into writing wishlists. They had qualms over appearing selfish for asking for things.

My solution was to make six lists, one for each kid, and place it on a clipboard. Then, we passed around the clipboards and the siblings wrote on each list what they thought their brother or sister wanted. 

At the end, each child examined the list with his or her name on it. They were able to veto things that, while well-meaning, weren’t really the cat’s meow, and add things that the siblings might have missed.

This has helped us better shop for our children which saves us money; we don’t buy things no one wants.

screen shot of rakuten home page showing different discounts and cash back offers

3. Using Rakuten can lower the cost of your online purchases.

I love to shop online. It saves me time in the car, time in the store, and in some cases time at the post office. I love it even more when I can get lower prices than in the stores. I do this through a cash back portal.

Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is the cash-back shopping portal that I use to get cash back on many online purchases. It almost always saves us a few bucks on every order. 

If you’re new to Rakuten, sign up with this referral link and you’ll automatically get $20 back when you make a purchase of $20. Can’t really lose there!

Once you’ve got an account, you log in before you do your online shopping. Search for the store you’ll be shopping at. If Rakuten offers cash back at that store, they’ll let you know. It’s usually between 1 and 10% back on the total of your order.

Click through their link to the store of your choice so they can track your purchase. Later you’ll receive a confirmation email letting you know the rebate on that purchase. Once a quarter you’ll receive a rebate check.

While it’s not instant savings, it sure does help us lower the cost of our purchases. We use it for buying gifts but also booking travel and buying major appliances. 

Over the years, we’ve earned over $2000 back in rebates and rewards. Often times, they’ll increase the amount of the rebate if I’m willing to take it in gift card form. This allows us to stretch our dollar even more. There are a wide variety of stores represented on Rakuten, making it a must stop before you shop.

chocolate box with money of different denominations

4. Making homemade gifts can save you money.

Homemade gifts don’t have to be blah. There are ways to assemble or craft gifts that are really elegant and fun. And if you use supplies you already have on hand or can buy affordably, you’ll save a lot of money.

Some of my favorites include:

Giving a food gift can be fun as well. Whether it’s a freezer meal gift or a batch of Christmas cookies, don’t forget that getting out of the kitchen is what lots of people are looking forward to these days of stay-at-home.

girl holding coupon book as she sits by christmas tree

5. Use gift cards and points to offset Christmas spending. Or make your own.

Gift cards that you’ve been hanging onto, especially those with just $3.62 left on them, are a great thing to put toward Christmas spending. Likely, it’s not money you’ve been thinking about and it’s a great time to use them up, especially as retailers offer lots of sales throughout the month.

I think they pretty much count on you forgetting about that buck twenty-five left on the card. That’s clear profit for them. Gather up all your gift cards and figure out how much is left. Stick them in your wallet and make a point to use them up while Christmas shopping.

Likewise if you’ve got points on your credit card or apps that you regularly use, you can cash those out for goods, services, or even money. For instance, iBotta lets you cash out your earnings for gift cards; the ChickFilA app gives you the option to gift food items to a friend via the app.

Check with the rewards programs you participate in and see if there’s a way for you to share them with your peeps.

Push comes to shove, you can always create your own Tear-Out Coupon Book to give gifts that can be redeemed later, presumably using your gift cards and points you’ve been collecting.

6. Just stop.

If you’ve already done your shopping or you’ve run out of money, then stop. You don’t need to buy more. Your kids will be fine.

It really is enough. Spend any extra money or energy on a fun memory that you can all enjoy instead. You really don’t need more stuff. Few of us do.

What’s your favorite way to save money on Christmas gifts?

This post was originally published on December 5, 2013. It has been updated for content, clarity, and current times.

How to Save Money on Christmas Gifts written across image of jar of money by Christmas tree

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7 Comments

  1. “Just Stop” is priceless advice – as someone who shops all year for the holidays it can be confusing and difficult to remember that there is already enough. Only recently have I learned to just stop, because even if it’s a fabulous deal if I don’t need it it’s a waste of money and takes up too much space.

  2. Christmas is such a special time to me. I love celebrating my Lord’s birth. I love the decorating and family times. I love giving to my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I want to give to them while I am alive a little each year so I can see them enjoy it instead of them receiving it when I am gone and I can’t enjoy them or the gift given. We have twenty one in our immediate family to give to but I am so thankful for the equal amount we can give to each one. It is not much but I am so thankful to share with them and for them to know they are loved equally. I want them to know they are thought of and loved by being with them and giving what we can. They are certainly a gift from God on this side of heaven. We celebrate Jesus birth that day together and are thankful for God giving Him to make it possible to spend eternity in His presence together. Our gives of love to each other are small but His love for us was extravagant. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift.”

  3. We no longer purchase greeting cards. Our children make cards for our friends and family. We use odds and ends from the art supplies. I use my Staple Rewards to purchase colored envelopes. These are more appreciated by the recipient than any purchased card and it makes for a great afternoon of Holiday crafting for the kids.

  4. I purchase 3 items for each child I purchase with great care I set an entire budget for Christmas
    Decor, Food, All Gifts, Wrap , Bows , Everything even the gas to travel to see people , I make the money last through New Year’s Day . I can borrow if I save in one area from another area but when it’s gone it’s gone and that includes if we do not have enough saved for things we felt we need.

    We are tight but we manage well.

  5. This year was the first year I did a Christmas sinking fund starting in Jan. It was great to know that I had everything saved up. I never went into debt in years past but it was much tighter and I’d usually end up using one of the paychecks from a 3 paycheck month to fund the majority of it.