It doesn’t take a lot of money to have a nice Christmas. Here are the 25 of the best budget-friendly tips from the Monroe on a Budget archives:

  1. Create a family Christmas song book with the words to your favorite tunes. You can find lyrics to popular music on the Internet. But other good sources are the hymn books at your church and song books at the library.
  2. Find the stack of Christmas videos you bought or acquired in previous years and make plans to watch one a day, or one a week.
  3. Pass on family food traditions by inviting in-laws or teens to assist family elders as favorite dishes or treats are prepared.
  4. Acquire a nativity set that the children can handle, rather than being told “don’t touch” an expensive artisan arrangement. You can find plaster figurines and wooden nativities to finish off at the craft stores; and Little People and Charlie Brown nativity scenes can be found in the Christmas merchandise aisles.
  5. Offer to babysit for a parent who needs time to shop, wrap presents or bake without children around.
  6. Research and revive a Christmas tradition from one of the cultures or countries that your ancestors came from.
  7. Ask your pastor, church librarian or Sunday School director for recommendations of blessings, prayers and Scripture verses that can be used at home during the Advent and Christmas season.
  8. Serve Christmas dinner or Christmas brunch on “the good dishes.” If you won’t use them at Christmas, when will you use them?
  9. Provide construction paper, shoe boxes, and craft scissors to for the children to build a Christmas village that their toy cars, small dolls and train sets can inhabit for the season.
  10. Swap out your Christmas decor pieces. If there are decorations or ornaments you no longer love, pass them on as family keepsakes or send them to a second-hand store where another family can find them.
  11. Ask what’s available as hand-me-down from your relatives if you are looking for “new to you” pieces. They may be glad to give away an extra lighted star or centerpiece that’s no longer loved in their home but will be perfect in yours.
  12. Buy solid color shirts, sweatshirts or sweaters to wear for the family Christmas photo. You can get the holiday look with hair bows, ties, scarves, hair bands and Santa hats that can be used in later years, even if clothing sizes change.
  13. Invite the children and teens to interview family elders about how Christmas was celebrated in their day and the gifts they received as children. The older ones might enjoy using their digital toys to turn this conversation into a video or podcast.
  14. Decorate your windows with paper snowflakes instead of spray snow or window clings.
  15. Organize your gift wrap ribbons and bows by color, using quart- or gallon-sized zippy bags for storage. This method will keep ribbons from being tangled while you look for the colors you want.
  16. Use the calendar or reminder feature on your smartphone to note where you hid the candy and gifts.
  17. Make long distance phone calls in lieu of sending Christmas cards. Depending on your phone plan, you might be able to make as many long distance calls as you want. But the older relatives will remember when an out-of-state phone call was expensive and rare. 
  18. Which gift ideas would help you and your family save money? Perhaps a tool set, a sewing machine or craft supplies? Ask for them!
  19. If you can’t have a live tree in your home for safety or logistical reasons, take cuttings and branches from someone else’s tree or buy some at a floral shop. Trim the branches if needed, and set them into a vase or an arrangement. You’ll get the look and smell without as much hassle.
  20. If you are shopping for toys for children or grandchildren, watch for the buy one get one or the buy two get one free deals. Take the extra toys you got for “free,” and put them in a donation drive box.
  21. Work with the color scheme of your house when selecting Christmas decor. Almost any color can be included today’s festive color arrangements. Pink and teal, for example, is appropriate to a 1950s-era home; and silver and gold would be especially striking in modern rooms with stainless steel or black furnishings.
  22. Select budget-friendly recipes for the bake sales, office parties and cookie swaps. Shortbread, for example, doesn’t require pricey nuts or chocolate.
  23. If your Christmas letters need to be printed on a budget, skip the expensive stationary and and use plain white paper with black ink. You can dress up the letter with pretty fonts and a splash of color ink.
  24. Photo cards and photo frame cards can be expensive. If you are using your own picture, it may be cheaper to order a stack of photo reprints in the standard snapshot size and include the photo in a traditional greeting card.
  25. Is it possible to hand deliver 10 to 12 cards out of your stack of Christmas greetings? If so, then you have saved about $5 in postage.

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