-POPOn a budget? Who isn’t these days? With the economy still a bit tight for many families, it’s tough to think about the upcoming holidays without getting a little stressed. How are you going to afford it? Not to worry. It’s possible to have a magnificent family Christmas and still stay on or below budget.

Here are seven tips for a family Christmas that doesn’t break the bank.

#1 Plan well ahead – Chances are you can still get some closeout holiday decoration items from last year. We’re talking about holiday ornaments, table cloths and place settings, and of course wreaths and other adornments.

#2 Shop on auction sites – Start shopping for holiday gifts before the season is in full swing. Use auction sites like eBay to buy many of your gifts. You can buy them gently used or brand spanking new and save a bundle.

#3 Get a family gift – Depending on how old your children are, they may understand the concept of a budget. If they’re old enough to understand, pose the idea of a family gift to them instead of individual gifts. If you spend, for example, $300 on a family gift instead of spending $100 per person, you’re saving $100 on a four-person family and more if your family is larger.

Great ideas for family gifts might include a home gaming system, a new computer, a trip to a show, or even a new pet.

#4 Have everyone bring something – If you host a family Christmas get-together, instead of making the entire meal yourself, have others bring a dish to pass. You can make the main course and set the table; the rest is up to your family members.

#5 Simply scale down – Ask your family members and children specifically to choose one gift they want this year instead of ten. Ask them to keep to a specific dollar amount. Children understand that the holidays are about more than getting gifts.

#6 Make some gifts – If you’re crafty at all or an artist, make some gifts for people. If you’re a photographer for example, take a photo, frame it and give it as a gift. If you like to knit, knit holiday stockings for other family members. If you’re a cook, make them some delicious salsa or bread. They’ll love the personal attention.

#7 Trade and barter – One great way to get original gifts at a low price is to trade or barter with others. If you have a particular skill or service you can offer, that makes it much easier. For example, if you have a friend who owns a toy store, you can offer to work in the store in exchange for toys.

There are many creative ways to make the most of this holiday season without spending a fortune. Use your imagination and plan ahead.


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