Debt Free Christmas: Saving You Time and Money

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Debt Free Christmas: Saving You Time and Money

As time has passed, I’ve discovered that the holidays often end with a large amount of holiday debt incurred because of large gift purchases for friends, family, extended family, teachers, coaches, and everyone else. Each year, the budget for Christmas gifts seems to get smaller and smaller and the list gets larger and larger. The list gets longer and the kids get older and their participation grows. Sharing your appreciation with everyone who contributed to the success of your previous year doesn’t mean that you have to go over budget. Incorporating your children and friends into making inexpensive holidays gifts is a great way to laugh and play while taking it easy on your checkbook.

Debt free living during Christmas time begins with setting your budget ahead of time so that you don’t overspend. By starting the saving process early in the year, set aside in a bank account or a sock drawer, you will find that paying for Christmas doesn’t make you cringe. While there are numerous volunteers, co-workers, coaches, and teachers, they don’t all need an individual gift to express your gratitude. A hand-written card will make anyone’s heart smile. Also, purchase a bulk of small tealight candles and attach a note that says something such as “you light up my world” or “you light up our lives” or even “you light up the office”.

Personalized Gifts:
  • With your home computer and a few decent photos of the family, friends, or sceneries, you can personalize calendars, photo collages, or cards through a free photoshop program, through an online program such as Shutterfly, or through store photo centers at Target or Walmart. 
  • Target also has a dollar bin section which is great for smaller gifts of appreciation for volunteers, coaches, teachers, and instructors. These dollar sections are conducive to themed gift baskets, as a majority of the contents available match other content. 
  • For example, for friends or significant others you could buy a dollar or five dollar movie with popcorn and an individual popcorn bowl from these dollar sections and make it into a themed gift appropriate for whole families or couples. 
  • For coffee lovers, a coffee cup filled with beans is the perfect gift.


  • Close friends always appreciate reminders of shared moments which can be done through scrapbooks. As an annual theme, you could easily make one or two scrapbook pages for each holiday/birthday/special occasion which you bound together at the end of the year as a Christmas gift.
  • For those adult couples with whom you are acquainted, painting customized wine glasses and complementing it with a bottle of wine makes for the perfect holiday party.

  • As far as extended family goes, there can be a lot of them. Making personalized Christmas ornaments is an easy way to check them all off of the list. By mixing flour, salt, and water you can make dough which can be shaped into ornaments and left out to dry and solidify. By poking a hole in the top, once it is dry you can paint or decorate the gifts and run a small hook through it. 
  • A video or DVD compilation of the family activities having taken place over the last year is a great idea for grandparents or aunts and uncles who live far away. Collecting filmed bits throughout the year of performances, soccer matches, recitals, can all be clipped and combined using DVD software and a home computer.

  • Framing a family photo makes an easy and inexpensive gift for extended family members as well.

Themed Kits:
  • Having a hobby can make it much easier to select gifts that won’t break the bank. For instance, someone in the family who enjoys music can be given an inexpensive gift card for itunes and a book or magazine about their favorite band or singer. 
  • Those who enjoy sewing can be given a small kit full of needles, pins, and threads in their favorite color. 
  • An inexpensive red and white plastic table cover with red plastic utensils provides for an endearing picnic pack. 
  • The outdoorsman or woman in the family would greatly benefit from a gardening pack including a packet of seeds and a gardening tool inside of a small bucket. 
  • A car wash kit can also be made with dollar section sponges, car soap, and or a tire brush.

Cooking Kits:
  • For anyone who isn’t on a diet or watching their holiday weight cookies, pies, cakes, breads, and desserts are great gifts. Everyone loves baked goods. 
  • Breakfast packs can be made for multiple people by purchasing large bags of pancake mix or waffle mix with chocolate chips and a box of ziplock bags. You can separate small quantities for each gift and place them inside of a ziplock bag with a note that instructs them to add water, oil, and eggs.
  • A BBQ kit would include a single BBQ utensil with a bottle of sauce. You can purchase a set of BBQ utensils with multiple bottles of sauce and simply divide one utensil from each with a single bottle and distribute them to the men in the family. 
  • A chocolate kit can be made by purchasing large bags of fun size chocolates in different kinds such as bars, truffles, kisses, etc… and mixing and matching handfuls placed inside waxed paper, tied off with string.
  • If you are better at cooking than your friend, offer to come over and cook for them as a gift. 
  • If you have a printer, download and print a variety of recipes from the internet and place them on 3 X 5 cards, then place them inside a small plastic box usually found in the dollar section at Target.

Gift Cards:
  • For any of the aforementioned kits, a small gift card can be purchased and included. 
  • A Starbucks gift card can be placed inside of a coffee mug or an itunes gift card on the inside of the book on their favorite band.
  • A movie theater gift card complements a popcorn bowl perfectly.

No matter which online gift cards you want, be sure never to pay full price for them. There are websites which sell unwanted gift cards from consumers at a discount such as or plastic jungle. is one of many half price websites which offer gift cards for restaurants, trips, shows, and stores at great deals. Warehouse stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club also offer gift cards at a rate of 15-20% less than the face value for places like Baja Fresh, iTunes, Regal Cinemas, and AMC Theaters.

How about you all? What techniques do you use to save money around Christmas time? Share your experiences by commenting below!

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