Saturday, January 3, 2015

20 Ways I Saved Money in December and for Christmas

December is usually a big money spending month because of the holidays but there are still some ways to save while you splurge on food and gifts for you and yours. Here’s how we saved money during Christmas.

20 ways I saved money in december and for christmas



1. Sealed any air leaks around windows, doors, light switches, and outlets. Heated air likes to escape through little gaps around pipes, outlets, and windows so it is in your interest to find them and fix them. These were easy and inexpensive projects I did several years ago that keeps our house warm and heating bill low.

2. Dressed for the winter weather indoors and out. I know a few people who crank up the heat so high they have to wear shorts inside the house when it is snowing outside. We keep our daytime temperature at 68 degrees (F) and wear jeans and a sweater.

3. Snuggle with Lacey and a throw if I am chilly in the evening. Blankets on laps are a Lacey magnet. I don’t need the throw for long because our programmable thermostat raises the evening temperature after we finish our work.

I usually stick with a throw over my legs longer than I need to because, well, look at this face. Would you disturb The World’s Best Snuggle Girl? No. You would not.

My apologies for the blurry Instagram photo. It was a hard photo to take from my lap.

4. Use Flannel sheets during the winter. We don’t notice the slight bedtime temperature drop during the winter due to our flannel sheets (in addition to our body temperatures naturally lowering while we sleep.) Flannel sheet turn my bed into a soft, warm, cocoon I didn’t want to leave until Spring.

5. Didn’t buy new Christmas decorations or ornaments. I’m not begrudging anyone who wants to change or upgrade their holiday d├ęcor. I live in a small house and don’t have a lot of room to store stuff. I’m also sentimental about our Christmas decorations because many of them are handmade or gifts from family who are no longer with us. I don’t put everything out (no room) and switch it up from year to year so it only looks like I bought all new stuff when its really all stuff I already had.

6. Use an artificial Christmas tree. This isn’t for everyone because so many of you are on different sides of the live vs. artificial Christmas tree debate.  In this case my pollen allergies work in our favor. The tree I bought 10 years ago at an after Christmas sale is still going strong.

7. Wrapped gifts in reusable cloth gift bags. I sewed cloth gift bags as a sanity saver and fabric stash bust than a money saver. I got crabby spending days wrapping Christmas gifts because I saved all of our paper gift bags for Husband to use because he HATES wrapping gifts. I haven’t had to buy wrapping paper in years.

8. I keep a box of gift boxes to reuse. Growing up I thought everyone kept a box of gift boxes to reuse from one Christmas to the next. This is a lazy way to save a couple of bucks because you already have a gift box or bag on hand when you need it. It makes gift wrapping easier too!

9. Got my Christmas shopping done early. I shopped year round for Christmas gifts and ideas using cash/debit card – no credit card bills for us! This also allowed us to save money on shipping gifts because I delivered some of them in person when I visited family for Thanksgiving.

10. Carefully shopped during the Christmas week sales for NEXT year. In my area most of the good stuff is picked over on the day after Christmas but not the week of. 

I got a screaming deal on Christmas ribbon and fabric for next year’s projects. 
I also have 12 more months to put off making them until the last minute! 

11. Carefully shopped the after Christmas sales for NEXT year. One sale flyer hit my email box with an item so perfect I would have bought it at full price a few weeks earlier. Buy it now at 50% off and keep it until next Christmas? Yes, please.

I didn’t do much of this because by the time the Christmas season is over my patience while shopping in crowds is thin.

12. I shopped my cupboards for alternatives before going to the grocery store. I learned during last year’s Eat From the Pantry Challenge my family has Out of Sight Out of Mind Disease. Not poking around our small cupboards when we ran out of family favorites I was one of the ways I blew my grocery budget last year.


We tried to apply this to pot lucks and party food. For example, I made rum balls instead of bourbon balls for a party because I already had everything except one  ingredient.

13. Searched for printable coupons (check them out here) and printed them before I went shopping. I have better luck with printable coupons being for things we use and need than in the weekly ad flyer we get whether we want it or not. Coupons are not just for groceries.  I used a coupon for my fabric purchase above and last month there were coupons available for movies, books, and games which would have made nice gifts.

14. Put our Christmas lights on a timer. I appreciate my neighbor’s laziness of keeping their Christmas lights on during the day even though I don’t get why since you can’t tell the lights are on until it gets dark. With a timer our lights come on at dusk and off before the sun rises. I don’t have to move from my snuggle spot on the sofa with Lacey to do it either.


Our timer is similar to the Woods Outdoor 24-Hour Mechanical Outlet Timer with Light Sensor for sale on Amazon.

15. Use plastic bags from packaging for doggy duty.  Lacey’s payloads are small enough we can put those weird size plastic bags they use to package every part in a box to a second reuse. The same goes for frozen vegetable, bread bags, etc.

16. Grocery shopped seasonally, with a list, and according to store sales. If I  grocery shop with a list in my head I end up buying more of what we don’t need than what we do.  You can grocery shop seasonally if nothing goes in your area during the winter (like mine) if you shop according to national growing seasons. Check out my tips for How to Shop Seasonally in Winter and Save Money here.



17. Composted food scraps. We keep tossing vegetable, fruit, and coffee grounds into the composter until either the bin is full or it is buried under snow. This winter has been mild enough to extend our compost season. By next spring we will have free to us fertilizer for the front garden.


We treated ourselves to a  Keter Dynamic Compost Bin for a past Christmas as a family gift. Best. Decision. Ever.

18. Shredded cardboard shipping boxes and added them to the compost for browns. Leaves and grass clippings are best but we don’t have either in December. Cardboard works as long as you skip the glossy printed boxes. 

19. Made two batches of crockpot turkey bone broth from one turkey carcass. I read you can make two batches of bone broth from one set of chicken or turkey bones but haven’t tried it. The second batch is just as flavorful as the first. Win!


20. Took advantage of low cost Christmas fun with Lacey. I’m a dork who likes  Christmas light displays. I finally convince Husband to go to a local park’s light display because we can walk Lacey. This is what we found:

Hey, who turned out the lights?

Apparently the park moved the lights to a city square and didn’t update their holiday press releases because the article I read said the lights were supposed to be in the dark park in the photo above.

Husband had a great time ribbing me about the pretty lights. Lacey didn’t care, she was just happy to be out walking with her people. We made of the best of a bad situation and had fun. Besides some of our favorite Christmas memories are about the imperfect ones.

How did you do in December?