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How to Have a Stress Free Christmas on a Budget

A pile of Christmas presents in all shapes, sizes and different colored wrapping paper.

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The holidays often bring fear to the hearts of both moms and dads. After all, if there’s ever a time of year when you blow your budget, it’s the holidays. Today I want to help you out with that and give you some tips on how to have a stress free Christmas on a Budget

I for one understand money being stressful at Christmas more than most. I have 8 kids and 9 grandkids. Four of them have birthdays between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Can you even imagine what our homes looked like Christmas morning? On top of that my birthday is in January and if I didn’t plan well enough ahead it was no fun, let me tell you! But think how much less stressful it would be to survive the holidays without blowing your budget. The sooner you start getting financially prepared for the holidays; the more money you’ll save.


Christmas tree with text over Holidays on a budget get this free guide to help you make and save money so you can have a stress-free holiday season this year and for years to come! Click here for your free guide to Holidays on a budget


7 Ways to have a stress free Christmas on a budget

Miniature Christmas display with a Christmas tree lot and a family loading up a tree on top of their car.

#1  Establish limits on how much you’ll spend-

Make a holiday budget and break everything down into categories. You can have categories such as gifts, decor, food, and entertainment. Set a limit you want to spend in each category. You don’t have to be exact and break out the calculator for everything as you buy it, instead use it as a guide.

For gifts break it down even further into individual limits for people on your gift list. Let’s say you have $500 to spend. If you have two kids then you could have a limit of $100 for each of them.  You’re left with $300 for the remaining gifts for your parents, a co-worker, 2 friends, and the relative whose name you drew in the family name drawing.


#2 Name Drawing-

Speaking of name-drawing, just like I suggested in my blog  Gift Giving the Stress Free Way, I highly suggest utilizing this strategy. This is especially important for extended family. Buying for all extended family members can cause financial stress. Talk to your brothers and sisters about instituting a “Secret Santa” name-drawing system.

Such a system ensures everyone has a gift to open at the get-together and that no one is burdened with buying 15-20 presents for extended family members every year.  Draw names at Thanksgiving (or as early as possible) to allow time to shop for the person whose name was drawn.

You could also suggest a “no gifts” policy at the office, kids-only gift-giving at the yearly Christmas party with family, or do a $10 and under grab bag to keep things thrifty.


3. Whittle down your gift list-

You no doubt have people on your list you hardly have any contact with all year. It’s okay to cross people off your list. If you feel you must keep some people on your gift list even though you don’t see them much, how about giving them something you made like cookies, soup mix, or something made as a side hobby to respect your budget? Maybe you knit, paint, or mix up homemade skin care products all of these would be great things to give as gifts.

When I was an extreme couponer I gave all my adult kids a self-care basket with shampoo, soap, and other hygiene products and they loved it! When you are a mom you stop buying some of that fancy stuff for yourself so it was a much-appreciated gift to my daughters.


Christmas tree with text over Holidays on a budget get this free guide to help you make and save money so you can have a stress-free holiday season this year and for years to come! Click here for your free guide to Holidays on a budget


#4 Shop Sales-

Reduce the amount you spend for gifts by only shopping sales. If you used to spend $25 per gift, consider reducing your amount spent per person to $20. If you’re vigilant about shopping the sales only, both online and in the stores, you’ll likely still be able to buy an item worth $25 for just $20. I personally shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales every year.

Amazon is also a great place to shop! I look for their daily deals and get free shipping. I have my family create wish lists and just add things to it throughout the year. I’m working on a page with all the great deals I find, things we love, and items I’ve written reviews about to share with you. You can see that here: Shannah Holt’s Amazon Favorites


Beautifully wrapped presents are being carried to the Christmas tree, with only a gloved hand showing. Text overlay Stress Free Holidays How to have a stress free Christmas on a budget.




#5 Christmas on a budget means no credit card spending-

Refrain from using your credit cards for holiday purchases. If you’ve set aside $500, draw the cash out of the bank and place it in a special envelope. Then use that money only when purchasing gifts. No credit card use equals no debts to pay after the holidays. If you are shopping online use your bank debit card so you are still sticking to plan for shopping for Christmas on a budget.

Another idea that you can start in the new year is to purchase a gift card each payday. You can then in December use all the gift cards you have collected on your Christmas shopping or give those cards as presents.

An even better idea is to set up a Christmas savings account with your bank and earn a little interest throughout the year while you are saving for the shopping season.

#6 Give homemade gifts of food-

Others will feel your love through a gift of special treats you took the time to make yourself. Plus, you’ll save a good bit of cash by making up a couple of large batches of your peanut brittle or other snacks for gifts. Dry soup ingredients is a great idea too especially with all the winter colds. Just make sure you aren’t paying more for all the ingredients or materials you need in making the gifts. Sometimes DIY projects can really add up.


Home made gift jars with a recipe attached to make a Christmas on a budget reality.


#7 Shop all year for holiday gifts-

Shopping year round means you won’t feel as overwhelmed with budgeting needed dollars in a couple of short months. Stock your gift drawer with items purchased at drastic markdowns (or at after-holiday sales) for the next holiday. Or every time you grocery shop buy a gift card to a store you frequently shop at. Then when Christmas shopping comes around pull out all the gift cards to use instead of cash. It’ll make life much easier and save a sleigh-load of cash.

Another great idea is to start a Christmas savings account at your bank this year so that next year you will have money all saved and ready to shop with.

Now it’s your turn-

Which one of these 7 ways to do Christmas on a budget will help you survive the holidays this year? The more of these strategies you use the less stress you will feel. Maybe you have one that I have missed? Please share in the comments below. Remember the most important thing about the holidays is to build strong, loving traditions that reflect the true reasons for the season rather than how much money you spent.

Christmas tree with text over Holidays on a budget get this free guide to help you make and save money so you can have a stress-free holiday season this year and for years to come! Click here for your free guide to Holidays on a budget


How to have a stress free Christmas on a budget is a part of a blog series. In case you want to check out the other parts in the Stress-Free Holidays series here are the links to each part.

Holiday Traditions and Memories

8 Simple Holiday Time Savers

Gift Giving the Stress Free Way

Stress Free Holiday Traveling


The following is a recorded video I did on my Facebook page about Surviving Christmas on a budget. Feel free to follow me on my Facebook page here:

Shannah Holt Mastering Mom Chaos




10 Responses to How to Have a Stress Free Christmas on a Budget

  1. Rachel says:

    In our house we do secret santa and it definitely helps with the budget. We also take our cash out so we keep to our budget. If we want to buy something online (like amazon) we cash in the amount for a gift card and purchase. It certainly helps us stay on track.

  2. Stine Mari says:

    I shop for Christmas presents all year round, so it won’t seem so much. And I love giving food as presents too. I love that you said that DIY projects may often cost more, many don’t think of that! Sometimes my food gifts are a little out of my budget too. Will try to do better this year!

  3. Kaylee says:

    I love giving homemade gifts! My family is very artistic so we all give homemade items

  4. Carolyn says:

    Really great tips! My family does name drawing and I love that!

  5. Emma says:

    I’ve always felt like there’s been a “presents are expected” mentality on my in-laws’ side. It honestly takes something away from me at Christmas. I’m all about homemade gifts, but they aren’t always well received on that side.

    Siblings in on that side do draw a name at Thanksgiving so that helps. Thankfully we aren’t expected to shop for aunts and uncles! It’s hard enough trying to make sure our kids get a few things they really want.

    I save credit card points and cash them out for a Visa gift card in November. That helps keep some purchases off my credit card 🙂

  6. Ingrid says:

    I like your ideas for a stress for a stress-free Christmas are very practical. The advice of setting budget and shopping for sales are ones that resonate with me.

  7. Anna says:

    This year I am giving my friends and family homemade gift. Something easy and simple that I know they will love.

  8. Glenda says:

    Love the tips Shannah! I try to do #7 because its so much easier on my wallet but I need to try #5.

  9. Mascha says:

    Loved reading this! My mum in law always started getting presents together in summer which was a good way of spreading the cost.
    We make a lot of presents ourselves which is fun for everyone involved.
    Then, we put our change into a pot every evening throughout the year. The money we save this way buys all Christmas presents and food

  10. Melis Living says:

    I really love your tips and will be implementing these next Christmas! Thanks so much for sharing your great knowledge! Melis