Saving on the Holidays?

How do you save $ on Christmas/holiday decorations? Mind you, I don’t have kids. If I did, this would be totally different!

I’ve done this:

  • Except for a tree, which we usually only do about every 3 years or so, I only decorate for fall/winter, not holidays.

  • Tree decorations are all unbreakable on the tree (because cats.).

  • I stopped using ornament hangers, thread or fishing line works and doesn’t have to be bought special.

  • My single, working parent mom, when she was getting divorced from Husband #1 (brother’s dad) started a family tradition of buying a tree on Christmas Eve, when they were 1/2 price. This doesn’t work here in New England. Christmas tree sales stop 12/23.

  • We only use fairy lights inside the house, no house lights.

  • When we have a tree, the chunk cut from the bottom is saved and used in a “yule” fire on the following year’s new year’s eve.

  • One year when DH was out of work, we decided we just couldn’t afford to make cookies, like we had before, so we made bread for all the neighbors. We’ve been doing this for 27 or so years now and it’s a tradition. We make 2 loaves for families with kids and one loaf for those with none. We usually bake about a dozen loaves of bread (or a few more) Christmas Eve. One of my memories of this place is hauling warm bread around the neighborhood.

  • Rather than champagne, what I get/make for New Year’s Eve dinner is onion soup. Seems appropriate: you start with something that makes you cry, treat it slowly and carefully until it turns sweet, then you add the basic staff of life and it gives you sustenance.

Thought of another! We don’t buy tinsel. I have beaded icicles I was given years ago by dear friends and some frosted glass ones I bought also years ago (which don’t go on the tree because cats).

Something I’ve done: when preparing gifts for mailing, use colored tissue paper. If you use 2 layers, most of the time it’s opaque enough to keep people from being able to read through it. I usually use 1 layer solid color and the second patterned. The solids are pretty cheap, year round. If I’m at the end of the paper or broke, newspaper underneath works and it’s free.


I don’t celebrate any winter holidays but I love hearing how heartwarming your bread Tradition is!


I save a bunch of that Kraft paper box filler and use it to wrap gifts! Can be customized with washi tape or other decorations, and easy to write on so you don’t need gift tags. My wrapping isn’t exactly award winning but I’m sure you could get MUCH more creative than this!


for many years, the family tradition was to go to the wrapping paper box and look for previous holiday tags with the appropriate names on them. The wrapping paper was reused year after year, and the tags were likewise.

Now it is hard to find paper that will survive multiple use, it is much thinner, and I wrap things at home instead of taking them to my parents.

And I’m even less frugal this year because I went to the thrift store to buy containers for the homemade curried cashews (also, cashews not frugal, but my sister already has dibs on giving granola). Spent $18 on tins and lost my mittens. But I’m hopeful for a festive family gathering this year. I’m even considering bringing out the ornaments, and we didn’t bother last year.


There’s a Japanese tradition of wrapping things in cloth. There were books about this called, “Wrapping three eggs” I think… Hold on… Here’s an HGTV about it:

The book was I guess called how to wrap 5 eggs, but I can’t find a copy for sale. There is a book by Christine Leech: Zero Waste: Gift Wrap: 30 ideas for furoshiki and other sustainable solutions (Zero Waste, 1)



Not sure the exact environmental tradeoff, but an artificial tree lasts a long time. My family got one upon moving to the US and this will be its 27th year. I think that puts it between $1-2 per year at this point (1995 USD).


I am always completely flummoxed by the price of live Christmas trees. I live by a garden center that sells them and just boggle at spending upwards of $100 for something that is going into the trash (or compost).

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Dollar tree has great gift boxes that I use for decor or as “wrapping” for gifts. I’ve got some that have been in use now for 8 years.


I’ve sewn gift bags for presents, so we don’t buy anything for wrapping. They are reused each year (and thus far have been used for trick or treat bags as well.)

Our artificial tree is tiny, we got it when we were broke newlyweds, but is over 15 years old. So I’m sure we’ve gotten our $85 worth.

We send picture postcards for New Years, rather than photo cards (or cards with photos in them). The quality isn’t as high, but most people pitch them anyway. Both the card (from Vistaprint) and the postage is less than the alternative. We send to our parents in an envelope, as we know they save the kids photo. My husband also takes the photo, so we don’t pay for a photographer (though I’m not sure his set up counts as “money saving…”)

We keep the holiday relatively small, because despite my 4-year old’s insistence that Christmas is the best holiday ever, we just celebrate solstice/years end, not Christmas. I buy them small presents, but anything big they get is from grandparents.