It’s our first Christmas season as a married couple, and I’m up at 6am unable to sleep. We’ve been very happily married for six months, and we look forward to many more. However, foraging our way as a new couple and a new family together in this tradition-laden season is difficult! I don’t think I fully knew just how plain weird it would be!
On the other hand, it is also just plain fun. Making new traditions, hanging out with friends, and visiting family are all wonderful this time of year. In addition, my husband is an expert at “lemons to lemonade” circumstances, and we came up with some great Christmas gift ideas that saved us quite a bit. While we’re paying off our college loans and saving for the future, it’s important to work within a tight budget.
- DIY Decorations – I love crafting. We have saved quite a bit of money by making our own decorations instead of buying new. I made our Fall door wreath with $1 fake flower stems and a 40% off basic wreath from Hobby Lobby. The same thing would be cute as a gift for a friend’s home.
- Hand-Me-Down or Secondhand Decorations – My grandmother gave us a huge tote full of decorations she was not going to use. We sorted out what we could see ourselves using in the next five years and donated the rest.
- DIY Wrapping – It amazes me how much wrapping paper and other gifting accoutrements cost. We had rolls of brown kraft paper left over from our wedding that I used as wrapping paper this year. I had purchased “Fall” ribbon for 75% off at the end of November and I used it to tie bows around our gifts. (I have also used the comics page of the newspaper to wrap gifts before.) I wrote the recipient’s name on the kraft paper itself with markers. For gift bags, I cut out the image from the front of used Christmas cards and hole punched it to make a tag. Then I wrote the recipients name on the other side and tied it to the bag with ribbon.
- DIY Gifts – I bake, cook, knit, and write. What better time to put my talents to use than at Christmas? In the past, I’ve done mini banana bread loafs in cute cellophane wrappers. This year, we made my dad chocolate- and butterscotch-drizzled popcorn. It was inexpensive and he loves it.
- Secondhand Gifts – I know it sounds a little tacky to buy used gifts, but here me out. There is a very nice secondhand bookstore in our area that stocks high-quality books, audiobooks, DVDs, musical instruments, children’s toys, etc. Many of the items are new and the others are gently worn. We were able to find brand new and like new items at this store for a fraction of the cost! They also have a teacher discount, so we were able to save big. There is a wide selection, so it was not shopping only the latest trends either.
- Free Shipping – Finally, always use free shipping. I signed up for an Amazon Prime account free trial just for the holiday season. Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. Anything we weren’t able to find elsewhere for cheaper, I ordered from Amazon. We did pay for shipping for one item because it was supporting a small business that did not offer free shipping. It was worth it.
- Start Early – It may too late now, but remember this for next year: If you shop for Christmas around the year, the toll it takes on your December paycheck will be minimal.
I firmly believe that Christmas is about the thought, the care for each other, and the celebration of our Savior… Not about the money spent. With a little bit of planning, our first newlywed Christmas is not going to put us into debt. I’m so excited to be celebrating this season with my sweet husband.
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