33 Parent Tips For Saving Money At Christmas


This post is part of my 10 Week Christmas Planning Series. Click here to read more posts – Christmas Planning 2013.

Through out this series we have been discussing how much we spend on kids at Christmas and Christmas overall. A common theme has been that readers would like to be spending less than what they currentlty do. In the quick survey I conducted I asked for readers tips on hot to save at Christmas time. Below are a collection of tips from other parents, that might help you spend a little less this year!

The anonymous tips come from the survey. Tips with a name attached were given to me via my facebook page.

Presents for kids

  • Jennifer McMahon Clark shared a philosophy I had hear before, when buying for kids give them “Something they WANT, something they NEED, something they WEAR and something they READ.”
  • Steer clear of things that don’t last, use Christmas time as a chance to stock up on things they really need. Not stuff they will only play with for a week.
  • Rachel McNaughton shared that they spend “The [same] amount we spend on our sponsor children in Africa… Seems only fair!!”
  • Nicolette White Sporys spends $200-$300 each, but it – “Includes outfit for the day, art supplies, a book, a large individual present and a shared gift such as a tent. No gifts till they are 2 or 3 and are aware of Christmas. This year they are getting ballet lessons as I’m trying to move away from stuff and towards experiences.”
  • Jenny Davies shared their Christmas eve tradition – “I make up a box on which they both get brand new pair of pyjamas each, new slippers, snowman soup, new toothbrush and toothpaste. I also buy a Christmas Story and a Christmas film for them to share. We sit & watch the film while they drink their snowman soup (hot chocolate and marshmallows). Then they brush their teeth with their new toothbrushes and toothpaste before getting into their new pyjamas and snuggling down to have their Christmas story read to them. I love making their Christmas Eve box up!”
  • Samantha McWilliam takes a save first approach – “I have 8 children and how much I spend on each child depends on what kind of year we had and how much money ended up in the Christmas account. We did however tell Santa that he needed to be consistent and spend the same amount on each child each year.”
  • Nat Egan shares – “Around the AU$200 mark…one main present, then just fillers. But stuff that they need anyway…lunch boxes, etc…they do get fun stuff too. But I like to “bulk” it out with the necessities.”
  • My kids get a santa bag that is left on their bed and a main gift that is left under the Christmas tree. The santa bag is filled with essential stuff they would get anyway – undies, socks, school supplies, toothbrush, deodorant, hair products, something to wear Christmas day and bathers, maybe even a small lego and a treat. They can spend ages emptying out the bag and comparing their finds and are genuinely excited over everything. (I always received a santa bag when I was a kid and loved it. Confession – I still get a santa bag each year up at mum and dads, it still has much the same things in it and a giant tub of Milo!).
  • Keep in mind that in our country our children really don’t ‘need’ anything!
  • We always bought 2nd hand christmas gifts for our kids at baby and toddler age, plus one bought “big” present. Its not until they are older that we started buying more costly things they wanted.

Planning your Christmas shopping

  • Buy through the year at sales so you don’t find yourself scrambling buying anything and at the most expensive price at the last minute.
  • Try not to be “sucked in” by the $1 here and $3 there additions to the shopping basket. It’s amazing how much these things can add up. Plan before you go shopping and/or do a pre-buying trip to see what’s available if you’re not sure and then go home to think about it and make a list before you actually buy and then realise you already have things or have too much!
  • Don’t leave it all to the last minute. have a list of who you need to buy for, pick up things as you see them, when on sale, put away.
  • Buy presents through out the year. Sometimes picking up an item second hand on Ebay allows for a greater value present at a lower cost.
  • Shop for toys in the July toy sales- most have Christmas laybys so you don’t have to try and hide them for too long. Do as much shopping online as possible, to avoid impulse buys. I find ezibuy and identitydirect are good sites for gifts.
  • Buy cards, gift tags and paper after Christmas ready for next year.
  • I start a list in June with items that the kids or hubby have expressed interest in. Then I watch for the sales in the next 6 months and buy things ahead of time. Usually everything is purchased by Dec 1.
  • Online window shopping to get an idea of what is out there and how much to pay. Sometimes i buy online if its cheaper, otherwise i only go to the shops i need to, not into all shops.
  • Setup secret Santa or kris kringles for nieces & nephews rather than buying for them all.
  • Co-ordinate (lots of talking or just a group email) with extended family members so they are aware of what ‘Santa’ might be bringing and they can get things related. Therefore there is no great need for Santa to have to bring all desired objects. eg. Wooden railway- Santa gives basic train and some track and then everyone else gives additional trains or track sets. Clever Santa could have sent messages or everyone was just thinking alike! or Santa gives the bike while Grandparents give the helmet etc. PS- this is not a last minute thing it needs to be done early when people haven’t started their Christmas shopping yet
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute, buy things throughout the year. We never ever use credit cards for Xmas so nice not be faced with a huge debt in Jan. Lay by is a good option, also love Book Depository and Amazon can be very cheap but you need to order a lot to justify the shipping costs.
  • I set up a Christmas Budget account and put $100 in it each month. It covers my daughter’s presents and presents for other people and whatever’s leftover we spend on food & drink over the Christmas period. I also buy ALL the Christmas presents in the EOFY sales so save heaps. It is SO much less stressful now!!! I try to buy one outdoor toy each year, but by having this budget I get to, say, October and depending on how much I have left to spend it could be a football or a giant swingset thing!!!
  • Buying gifts through the year when on sale. Have started using ‘reusable’ wrapping (eg fabric gift bags, or scarve/like-minded extended family. Lengths of fabric as furoshiki) for our immediate family. (Small initial cost, but mostly lengths of fabric I already had) Also, doing a ‘Kris Kringle’ with extended family, so we buy a single, decent gift rather than many smaller gifts has saved a fair bit.
  • Make things yourself – start doing it early in the year and you can save heaps this way.
  • Keep a Christmas notebook with budget, people to buy for, presents bought / ideas, receipts and layby info to keep everything in the one place.
  • Keep a list of items purchased and put away – so you remember who you have purchased for and you don’t end up with 10 gifts for one child and only one gift for another!
  • 1. Keep a running list of items the kids/other family members would like/have mentioned throughout the year 2. Buy any of these items when they’re on sale – online wishlists are great for keeping track and noting sales 3. i find books are great presents for almost everyone as you can nearly always find one to reflect someone’s interests for quite a reasonable price – bookdepository is great for this.
  • I buy 2 boxes of chocolates and have them wrapped and handy for unexpected guests.
  • I create my own Xmas hamper by buying extra of regular non perishables when they go on special every time I go food shopping from October. I also set a Colours theme for wrapping each year and find everything the previous year on sale if I can.
  • Don’t get caught up in the hype, and make as much as you can from scratch.
  • We don’t buy a lot of snack foods and fizzy drinks eg shortbread etc, we buy a few treats for a couple of days over Christmas and for entertaining, but try to keep a lid on it for cost and health reasons. We share dinner costs with family members and have a Secret Santa too.
  • Redeem fly buys to buy get a gift or voucher.
  • I get the toy catalogues that come out mid year and start planning roughly what to get them. I leave them out and the kids often start looking at them and telling me what they like. It might not save money as such but it ensures I can hone in on what they want and get quality not quantity.

Do you have a money saving tip for Christmas to share?