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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleigh bells cost money, you know!

Last week I made my official Christmas buying gift list, and I almost had a heart attack!

There are forty-five friends and family on my list, and this does not include my husband’s business gifts. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars sitting around to spend on Christmas gifts. Did I mention my youngest son’s birthday is in December, so I also need to factor in the cost of birthday gifts and a birthday party. And if I’m going to take a really honest look at the December budget, I also have to accounts for things like a Christmas tree, a wreath and various other Christmas decorating items that pop up during the season. I doubt my kids would be pleased if I told them the budget didn’t include a Christmas tree this year.

So, to make sure there is enough of that hard-earned green stuff known as money to go around, I have become somewhat of a Christmas money saving expert. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’ll share with you, and I hope in turn you will share some of your money saving tips with me.

Number One – Buy cases of wine!
Yes, you heard me correctly. The wine is to give, though, NOT for you to drink and be merry. Oh, all right, quit grumbling. You can keep one bottle for yourself. Many grocery stores and wine shops give discounts of 15-20% when you buy cases of wine. I love to buy wine and put it in a fun bag with a special ornament for our friends. Any sommelier worth their weight in corkage can help you pick a good, but inexpensive, wine that your friends will enjoy over the holidays. I know from experience that Whole Foods has a great wine sommelier.

Number Two – Purchase a pretty Christmas plant.
You can purchase a lovely Christmas plant for ten to twelve dollars. Smack a bow on it, and you’ve given the gift that will keep giving back!

Number Three – Force yourself to shop at TJ Maxx, HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning.
You really can find some excellent buys there, especially for kids’ toys. Now, go prepared for chaos at TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning because I swear I have never been in either of these stores when things were orderly. If, however, you are brave, you can do score some great Christmas gifts.

Number Four – Bargain shop online.
If you haven’t stepped into the age of technology— she clears throat as she thinks of her mother—NOW is the time to do it. Amazon rocks the gifts, in my opinion. I spent several hours online comparing prices for toys a few days ago, and time and again, Amazon had the best selection, the best prices, and FREE shipping. Just be careful to keep track of what you are spending. Somehow when you just click away your money it sometimes doesn’t seem real. The overdraft notice will be real enough, I assure you!

Number Five – Give the gift of reading!
I have friends with multiple children and as much as I would love to buy each and everyone of those little cherubs their very own special gift, it would break the bank. I have taken to picking a special book for the kids in the family and giving it to all of them as their joint gift. You could also do this with a game for the kids. The bonus is they are forced to learn to share! This is a twofer! It saves you money and teaches them a great life lesson!

Number Six – Buy couple gifts rather than individual gifts.
For years, I would buy a gift for her and a gift for him. It was expensive, and I found it difficult to think of something to buy good friends’ husbands, besides some sort of alcohol. Obviously, my creativity stops with my writing ability. I now buy joint gifts such as wine – oops still alcohol, movies passes, small food baskets, Omaha steaks, and gift cards to restaurants.

Number Seven – Take a name.
If you have an army of siblings or cousins draw names for who gives whom a gift. This eliminates having to buy a gift for everyone.

Number Eight – Bake your gift!
I can’t believe I said that! I don’t bake, usually. I do however make an exception and do MINOR baking at Christmas. People love to get holiday sweets wrapped up in pretty packages, or at least I do! Every year, my husband’s aunt sends us a box full of homemade goodies such as fudge, divinity, cookies, and chocolate mints. We fight over the last crumb every time.

Number Nine – Cut coupons.
I know. I hear you groaning! I hate to do it too, but cutting coupons from places like Target and Toys R Us really can save you some money.

Number Ten - Skip the fancy smanshy Christmas cards and check out Shutterfly, VistaPrints, or TinyPrints.
You can make great Christmas cards on these sites for a fraction of the cost from other places.

I would love to hear how you save money at Christmas.

Happy Holidays to you!
Julie Johnstone, the Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. Lots of good tips!

    I'm a big fan of the cases of wine idea. For most people, wine is an appreciated gift. :) I know I always appreciate it!


  2. Sonja,
    Thanks for stopping by! I always appreciate wine too!

  3. Julie,
    Great ideas!

    My tip doesn't have to do with spending less, but I have a Christmas account to save up money all year. It automatically comes out of my pay check electronically, so I never think about it until it's time to buy presents.

    However, to save money, I no longer exchange gifts with friends. This is actually a gift we give each other, the gift of no hassle or stress. Instead, we go out for lunch and enjoy each other's company. Then for the family, we are giving couple gifts this year. Unfortunately, wine isn't going to cut it for them, so I better put on my thinking cap.

  4. Nice tips! I do something similar for kids and just buy joint books or toys. And like Samantha, I have a Christmas savings account and try really really hard to stick to that as my budget. I usually go a bit over but it takes a load of stress of worry how to buy for my kids and family and friends :)

  5. Samantha,
    Great idea on the savings account!

  6. Lisa,
    I usually go a bit over too, but at least we try.

  7. Great tips, Julie! Now that the hubby has a job I think I'll get to try a few of these ideas out.