As much as we love the shortbread cookies, the twinkling lights and bottomless glasses of spiked eggnog, Christmas can be beautiful, but stressful – because when you add it all up, it’s a super expensive time of year.

With that said, it doesn’t always have to be. There are ways to avoid spending lots of your pennies on the festivities around Christmas – and here are 16 ways to do exactly that.

1. Give Homemade Gifts

One of the best ways to save money this Christmas is by creating homemade gifts. Homemade gifts say “I love you” in such a heartfelt way that you can’t find in any department store. To get inspired search for homemade gift ideas online (Pinterest has tons of them!) and plan ahead so you have plenty of time to create your gifts.

2. Give Gifts of Service

Here’s a super easy way to save money and give a gift that others will love. Create your own coupons that are good for services such as dog walking, yard clean up, cooking dinner, a free car wash, a back rub, mowing the grass, house cleaning, or running an errand. The possibilities are endless – just use your imagination and think about what people may need help with. Are you an awesome photographer? If so, gift the new parents in your life a free baby photo session. One gift any parent could use is an overnight babysitter. If you have a skill, it can be a gift – and others will appreciate it more than a store bought gift.

3. Participate in a Gift Exchange

Instead of buying gifts for all your friends and family, save some money by doing a gift exchange.

You could organize a Secret Santa and draw one name that you will buy for. We’ve done this at family Christmas’ where adults and children draw names for each other.

Another variation is a Gift Swap Game. Have everyone bring one wrapped, unmarked gift. Guests are given numbers as they arrive, or their names are randomly drawn, and they select and unwrap gifts from the pile in that order. The person who receives the number 1 will pick a gift (that is not their own) from the pile and open it. The person who receives number 2 then chooses a gift and opens it, and then must decide whether to keep it or swap it for the first player’s gift. Each person in order then gets to select a present, open it and decide whether to keep it or swap it for any other gift someone has already opened. Opening of gifts and swapping takes place until all the presents have been chosen. Finally, the person who picked first gets to choose from all the gifts or keep what he/she has already received. In the end, the gift you are holding is the gift you take home. We play this gift swapping game all the time and have created some wonderful memories and received great gifts. One year we even changed the rules slightly in that it had to be a homemade gift.

Make sure to place a dollar limit on how much to spend whether it be for Secret Santa or a Gift Swap.

4. Get Reduced-Price Gift Cards

Rather than buying a gift, give a gift card. But don’t pay full price for that gift card! What! Yes you can buy discounted gift cards really easy. Learn all about it and where to find them here.

5. Buy Presents After The Big Day

If you’re not going to see a family member or friend until after Christmas day, why not take advantage of post-holiday sales and buy those gifts then? There are always tons of sales on Boxing Day.

6. Use Your Loyalty Reward Programs

Now is a great time to use the Loyalty Reward points you’ve been accumulating. If you’ve saved all year, you should have a good amount in cash to spend or convert into vouchers to spend at the retail store.

7. Buy Gifts From Deal Sites

Sites like Groupon, Amazon Local, and WagJag offer deep discounts at restaurants, entertainment venues, experiences and other gifts that would normally cost two to three times as much. Purchase your gifts here and save lots of dough.  I bought my husband a race-car driving experience from Groupon one year, and it was the best experience he’s had in his life.

8. Shop Online

Most stores extend their sales and promotions to their online stores. Compare prices easily and look for online promotion codes to save even more money.

And forget Black Friday horror; at stores like Walmart, the same deals are available online starting at midnight or when the store opens. Check each store’s online site at 12:01 or again when the store opens and save yourself the gas and the mobs.

9. Sell Some Of Your Current Toys

Sites like Craigslist, Kijiji or Buy and Sell Groups on Facebook are great for purging your gently used toys. Others will enjoy those toys at a fraction of the cost, and you’ll clear up space and earn a little spending dough. That sounds like a win-win to me!

10. Save on Wrapping Paper

There are all kinds of ways to wrap a pretty gift that won’t have you wasting money on wrap.

Use a potato chip bag to wrap gifts. Pour the chips into a large ziplock bag. Flip the chip bag inside out and wipe off food crumbs before wrapping the gift. The finished product looks shiny and sleek. It’s also an eco-friendly way to save paper.

Here’s another eco-friendly trick, wrap gifts in old scraps of fabric.

Recycle paper grocery bags as gift wrap. Not only is it easy and cheap, but it also gives your gifts a rustic style.

Did you save your ribbons from last year? Remove the wrinkles by rubbing the ribbon on a warm lightbulb.

You can purchase wrapping paper at discount stores. If you save gift bags throughout the year, then you won’t need as much wrapping paper. And for next year, gift wrap always goes on clearance just after Christmas, so stock up in advance and you’ll save a lot of money.

11. Create Your Own Gift Tags

Recycle last year’s Christmas cards to make you own festive gift tags, or create your own by finding free templates online and printing them.

12. Eco Bows

We love ideas that combine saving money with reusing and recycling items, especially when you can create something as beautiful as these eco-friendly gift bows made from old magazines. We found this tutorial on the Whole Living website that shows you how to make them.

13. DIY Christmas Cards

Why not make your Christmas greener and save money this year by creating your own cards rather than sending bought cards?

Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Adorable torn-paper Santa cards 
Sweet paper tree cards.
Delightful washi tape tree cards
Pretty printable cards 
Fingerprint Christmas light cards 
Cute as a button cards 

14. Send Ecards

Want to send a Christmas card without it costing you any money? Send an e card. There are many beautiful cards that you can send from this free site.

15. Make Your Christmas Party A Potluck

People always offer to bring something, so why not let them! Instead of doing Christmas dinner on your own (and buying everything for the feast), make it a potluck. It’s also less stress for you which ends up letting you enjoy your company.

16. Use Santa’s Bag App

This useful app keeps track of your Christmas gift list and even helps you stay on budget!

Have you any other ideas for saving money at Christmas? We’d love for you to share them with our tribe below!

Want to find, save and make more money?