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The following are tips on how to get back to basics, eat healthier and save yourself a lot of time and money!

Ways to save money for Christmas
12/15/2010 | Sheryl McGlochlin

Article image: Ways to save money for Christmas

1. Make a list, and narrow it down. Who do you have to buy presents for?  Make a list, because without it you will have a hard time creating a budget (see next item). Only put the essential people on it. Now see if you can narrow it down a bit. The surest way to have an expensive Christmas is to have a list that's too long.

2. Set a budget, and stick to it. How much can you afford to spend on Christmas this year, realistically? Don't put your Christmas shopping on your credit card if possible — just spend what you can find within your regular budget or in savings (though it's not a good idea to deplete your savings just for gifts). Once you have a total amount, decide how you'll split it among the people on your list. If the budget isn't big enough for the list, see some of the ideas below. The key, of course, is not just setting the budget, but remembering your limits (take your list with you as you shop) and doing your best not to go over the limit you set for each person on your list.

3. Do a gift exchange. This can drastically reduce costs, especially if you have a large family or group of friends or coworkers. Instead of buying something for everyone, you just have to buy one gift.

4. Make your own gifts: bake something wonderful; make picture frames, knitted scarves, a digital photo slideshow, a bookshelf, anything you can learn to make.

5. Buy used if you can. This may seem tacky to some, but really, you can get some amazing used stuff that in some cases are as good as or better than new items. Focus on vintage stuff, like out-of-print books or an antique knick knack. In any case, it's worth a look.

6. Just buy for kids. Christmas gifts are really the most fun for kids. While adults love getting gifts, of course, it's not as
Important to them. Instead, just buy gifts for the kids on your list.

7. Wrap with magazines or newspapers. Save money on expensive Christmas gift wrapping, and use old magazines or newspapers to wrap your presents. It's free (you already have the magazines), it's recycling, and it can cool.

8. Give homemade coupons. This is one of my favorite gifts, because it costs nothing but it shows you care. You can give people coupons promising that you'll wash their car, baby-sit, give them a massage, clean their rain gutters, or whatever you can do that they would like.

9. Freebies. It doesn't get any cheaper than free. Be sure to check The Bargainist ( for totally free items and free after rebate items. If you have a lot of people in your life to buy for, you may be able to stock up on a bunch of the same item without spending a dime.

10. Give your “Favorite Things”.  Try giving inexpensive items that you love and use everyday, not only will the gift be more meaningful, but the recipient will think of you whenever he/she uses the gift. By giving a gift with meaning, you deemphasize how much the item cost. Last year, a friend gave me a little packet of some of her favorite things that included her favorite gum, mints, and beverage. I loved that she shared those things with me and I could have cared less how much she spent.

11. Buy gifts for birthdays and Christmas throughout the year.  This is an easy way to save time and money! Instead of waiting for holidays, buy gifts whenever you see what you think a friend or relative will enjoy. Place the gifts in boxes and mark the outside of the box and just keep adding all year round. When birthdays and holidays roll around, you are always prepared.

12. Neighbor Decoration Swap. Find a friend or neighbor who is willing to swap any unwanted decorations with you. The decorations will be new to the other person and it will save going out and buying something new just because you are tired of your old stuff.

13.  Send email Christmas greetings instead of Christmas Cards.  You’ll save on the expense of card and of postage

14. Look up the FREE holiday activities in your community. There are thousands of pageants and other entertainment in churches all over the US. All you have to do is find them. Check your local newspaper. Watch the local TV networks.

19. Share movies and music with friends and family. Borrow Christmas movies from your friends and family. They will be glad to lend them to you, especially if you have something they want to watch. This will be better than going to a video store. You won’t have any late charges.

20. Bring home a basket full of Christmas books, music and videos from the Library.  They have a wonderful selection you can borrow from for FREE.

21. Instead of buying an extravagant gift for your spouse, how about going in on a gift for the house instead that will benefit you both?

22. Recycle cards. Save your old cards, cut out the images and recycle into new cards. Or you can back the images with tagboard, add a string, and make tree decorations.

23. Let nature decorate for you. Natural branches, leaves, holly, or flowers bring the outside in. Decorate with a little glitter and a few ribbons or use those old strings of lights. Pine and holly boughs look great and with a few cinnamon sticks give your house that holiday smell.

24. Shop online on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is the Internet version of Black Friday. Hundreds of stores offer discounts that are only made available to online shoppers. While the deals on Cyber Monday aren't as good as they were when the concept was new, shoppers can still save money. Many stores offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, as well.

25. Go on store websites a week before Black Friday and search for coupons. Everybody knows you can get coupons in the paper on Thanksgiving. But department and electronic stores will have similar and sometimes better coupons that can be printed from their official website. You can usually use these deals for online shopping, as well.

26. Give Together. If there is an expensive item that you really want to give to someone, consider splitting the cost with a friend or relative. Your recipient will still get to receive the gift, but you won’t have to foot the entire bill yourself.
27. offers coupon codes that can be used when shopping online. The site gives you a wide variety of coupon codes for each retailer listed on the site. There are a number of sites that offer coupons, take a look to find the sites offering coupons for the stores you shop most often.