Tag Archives: Christmas

A Very Simple and Frugal Christmas 2016


We had a very simple and frugal Christmas this year. We thought we were doing to be out of town for Christmas day so I kept the decorating simple with our reusable tree and a few favorite decorations. This has the added bonus of protecting most of our holiday decorations from the puppy. The tree didn’t fare so well as you can see from the above picture. This was our first Christmas with just the two of us and the fur babies and it was also our 8th Christmas together.

On Christmas day, we slept in (a gift in itself because we are usually up so early) and then we opened presents. Many of our gifts to each other were practical and fun including a Kindle (on sale for $33 on Cyber Monday), a keyboard, work shoes, a scarf, new stove plates, a new phone, sewing supplies and clothes. We watched a lot of Project Runway on TV and went to a beautiful local park with the puppy where we saw a fantastic rainbow. Not traveling this year saved us a lot of money so we had a lovely steak dinner with asparagus and loaded potatoes (from ALDI). Overall, a really great day!


Here are some things we did to make the holiday more frugal:

– Not buying any decorations! We already have too many. If I want any more I will sew them on my sewing machine

– Not buying any wrapping paper. We have some remaining gift bags from last year and I bought a red lined curtain at the thrift store for a few dollars that I have been using to make gift bags.

– Not buying many gifts in general. My sister and her husband are due to have a baby any day now and they are not exchanging gifts this year which makes life very easy for us. And we have given them lots of baby stuff already and will be sending more too J

– We also usually have a $10 gift limit in my family so the family members that I am giving gifts to won’t be expensive.

– I bought Shugar Soap at Dollar Tree (but they sell for a lot more online) for my coworkers and printed little Thank You notes. They cost $1 and smell absolutely amazing (You seriously want to take a bite). They are also entirely vegetable based, chemical free and made in the USA. I missed some of my coworkers who had already gone on break so we ended up with some extras to give to someone else or use in our home.

– I will be making some gifts and I have already bought the sewing supplies I need. Although my sewing skills aren’t up to making all gifts yet there will be a few I will sew. I doubt I will ever do 100% handmade gifts because it’s not always what everyone wants or needs, it’s not always cheaper, and it doesn’t ever save time but I will enjoy making a few that I believe my loved ones will want.

– Some of our gifts are from thrift shops. We don’t require that they are always new.

– We are Amazon Prime experts. When it’s cheaper online with free 2 day shipping. It’s a win, win.

– I got my mother a Kindle Fire on sale on Cyber Monday for $33 and we already exchanged gifts with her since she will be out of state for the birth of my nephew.

– Playing Christmas music and watching Christmas TV is free.

– I had some gift cards that I had never used and I used them to save money this December and to purchase gifts.

– We own a tree that came with lights and we will use it again this year. Our puppy decided to eat the light cord off but maybe we can fix it. If not, we will add lights we already own for free.

– I bought the puppy toys at Dollar Tree last month when I found some good ones and frankly he already has too many. My dad’s dog will get a bag of milk bones. We have a box and our puppy doesn’t like them.

– Make all of the returns that have been sitting around the house waiting for me to find the time to return them. I will use the store credit to save money and/or make gifts.


While you are at it you might want to check out some other frugal Christmas posts including:

30 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

Frugal Christmas Shopping

Ugly Christmas Sweaters!

2011 Christmas In Review

Our Frugal Christmas

2011 Christmas In Review

We did exceptionally well this Christmas! I’m very proud of my family and myself for the beautiful Christmas we had this year. Despite having a huge tree and a beautifully decorated house I didn’t spend a cent on decorations or wrapping. My mother had tons of both from years past and insisted on sharing now that I have my own house.

The above picture shows why I love using comics as wrapping! They also save you lots of cutting and money. If you are getting multiple newspapers ever Sunday I look at this as an added benefit. We used the free tape from HERE to wrap gifts. We are also saving bags and boxes from this year for next year.

I was asked by a friend to participate in buying gifts for the children at a local homeless shelter and feel very thankful for being able to take part in it. I chose the oldest teenagers because I figured most people would choose younger children. I love, love the gift bags we put together for them with fun and practical personal care items, etc. My sister and I even drove a half an hour to the Victoria Secret Outlet to buy tote bags for the girls for $1.99 each! Thanks to couponing I was able to do this while spending very little money. See the above picture of the items laid out on their bags.

I LOVE many of the practical gifts I got this year. The best way to surround yourself with things from the people you love is to have them buy you things you need and use. My brother bought me a cast iron skillet (we are trying to avoid Teflon), my father got me stainless steel pots (again, trying to avoid Teflon) with lids and best of all a buffet food warmer since my new favorite hobby is making dinner for lots of people. My mother got me a small suitcase for weekend trips and my boyfriend got me a huge roller board suitcase for when we make long trips. These were both great because we LOVE to travel. Traveling is one thing I feel it is very worthwhile spending money on. My aunt got me a sewing machine which I have been wanting for some projects that I know I can accomplish once I figure out how to use it. My sister got me some really great household and personal care products as well as lots of picture frames which I will use all through my house. My boyfriend also bought me my very own copy of THE TIGHTWAD GAZETTE!!!! (I wrote about it HERE). For those who don’t know, it is the frugal living bible. I am so excited. I read it when I got it from the library and wanted to buy my own copy for a year but I never expected to get it as a gift. I love rereading it and also being able to write in my own notes this time.

None of us went into any debt to buy any gifts, because we used so many frugal strategies. Including, using gift cards, shopping sales, giving free with coupon household items, shopping at dollar stores, and many other ideas you can see here (30 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season).

We all ate and made tons of food which cost us very little after couponing and discounts and stocking up when there were good deals through the year. Now I have lots of leftovers that will save me from having to cook for days and I will probably still have some to freeze for later.

I bought an extra ham and turkey this holiday season with a steep employee discount from the place my mother works. I have kept them frozen and I hope that this will help offset some of our meat grocery costs in the coming year.

Right now, I feel like I never need to go shopping again! I have everything I need and can’t imagine needing anything else (at least not anything I can’t buy with the many gift cards I now have lol). I know this feeling won’t last long but I’m going to try to hold onto it because I am so lucky to be so blessed.

30 Ways to Save Money This Holiday Season

I have been seeing more and more Christmas related items this year as the holidays quickly approach. I too have had my moments of panic with the idea of buying so many gifts. Then I went back and reread the article I wrote myself last year that I called “Frugal Christmas Shopping.” It made me smile because it reminded me of all of the frugal tricks and ideas I used to amass a huge pile of gifts for my loved ones.

Last year, I was very broke because I had chosen to work less. I had used the spare time to do money saving activities and to take advantage of really great couponing/saving sales and events. This year I have worked full time, almost the whole year, and while the balance in my bank account is higher, I haven’t been able to take advantage of as many great deals because I simply haven’t had the time (See Budgeting While Working Crazy Hours).

Now that I am no longer working full time, I am starting to get back into the swing of using my spare time to really save money and make the money I do have go further. I am already starting to amass some really great Christmas gifts.

Here are some ideas to save money at Christmas without sacrificing the fun-

1. Christmas Gifts Don’t Have to Be New– My entire family shops at thrift shops and yard sales. We don’t expect all gifts to be new and if we can get great, quality items for less, then I say more power to us. Many Goodwill Stores actually receive new Target surplus items and sell them at great discounts. Plus many of us like unique/collectible items that can’t be bought new. Used books are usually a good idea.

2. Buy Gifts Early and Keep Lists of What You Bought for Who– Certain members of our family, myself included, buy gifts all year round when they find great deals. When Christmas comes this really saves a lot of money. It also helps to keep a list of what you have bought for who to make sure you buy what you need for everyone and don’t overbuy for someone.

3. Shop Christmas Sales– Stores are competing for your business this time of year. They often offer fantastic deals just to get you in the store. Don’t let their strategy work. Buy the great priced item you came for and leave.

4. Buy Useful Gifts– Some of my all time favorite gifts are also the most useful gifts. Last year my boyfriend bought me a GPS that I use every day. My brother bought me a nice set of glasses at a closeout store that I also use every day. Look back and think of all of the “fun” items you have been given over the years that have later ended up in the family yard sale, if you can even remember them.

5. Discuss Wants and Needs– Our family, being as frugal and practical as we are, decided last year that we would discuss what we really wanted/needed. This ended up being a huge success (see the gifts I received listed in idea #4). This made it a lot easier to figure out what to get everyone and also made it easier to watch for great sales on items we knew we were buying. It’s like an adult Christmas list.

6. Use Your Resources– Working at Target my mother gets a discount when she shops there. I have free Amazon.com gift cards from using Swagbucks.com. We all look out for high value coupons at stores we shop at such as $10 off. All of these things add up.

7. Free Wrapping Paper– I save the comics from the hundreds of newspapers I buy each year (for the coupons) so that I can use them as wrapping paper. Last year this worked great because it saved me from having to do a lot of cutting. I also save really cool store bags and tissue paper that come with my purchases. My favorite is getting free underwear at Victoria Secret and getting a great bag/tissue paper too. See Frugal Gift Bags. Also see Free Printable Gift Tags. These are also green ideas.

8. A Reusable Tree– My family used the same one for my entire childhood saving a lot of money instead of buying a live tree every year. If you don’t already have a reusable Christmas tree there are some really fantastic deals out right now.

9. Coupons Aren’t Just for Food– I get a lot of great unusual items couponing that end up making really cool gifts. Last year I got free travel size board games, Victoria secret underwear, and expensive lotion among other things all free with coupons.

10. Keep Your Eyes Open for Free Gift Cards– Couponers know all about deals that involve free gift cards, but you can also acquire them in other random ways. Many pharmacies offer free gift cards with a new or transferred prescription. Kohls is well known for giving out Free $10 off of $10 purchase store cards. Stores where you have reward cards often give out free stuff as well. Last year my work was giving away free gift cards(See Frugal Christmas Shopping).  You can use these to buy gifts or to give as gifts.

11. Give Something Meaningful– Are you planning on passing on a family heirloom? This might be the right time to do it. I treasure my aunt’s high school ring that she gave me because it is an irreplaceable gift.

12. Give Something You Made– I saw a story on TV last year about a woman who turned the fruit from her backyard trees into jam and gave it as Christmas gifts. I have three orange trees in my backyard (See Waking up to cold Florida air and oranges) that are producing more than we can eat that I will gladly give away. My sister will also create unique artwork that makes for really cool gifts.

13. Collect Baskets– I love to receive gift baskets! Last year I refused to spend an outrageous amount on wooden or plastic baskets at the stores to put my gift basket items in. This year I collected new looking baskets when I saw them at thrift stores so I will have really fancy baskets for my gifts. Even better, most of my gift basket items were free from couponing.

14. Don’t Count Out Dollar Stores– I Personally love Dollar Tree (where everything is $1 because I can afford everything in the store). You can make nice gift baskets (see #13) or find stocking stuffers.

15. Change Up the Family Gift Exchange– Instead of doing a gift exchange where everyone tries to one up each other by buying the nicest gift we do a Bad Santa gift exchange. By ‘Bad’ we mean BAD. Everyone has to buy the worst possible gifts for under $5. Among the Best Worst gifts were pig’s feet and a stuffed bird. You never know what you will unwrap. This tradition has become a favorite because it is hysterical.

16. Include Your Pets but On the Cheap– Our Pets love getting Christmas gifts too, but we never spend much on them. We get cat and dog treats free with couponing . Nothing excites our Rat Terrier more than a .25 cent thrift store stuffed animal that she can rip the stuffing out of. The cats are really happy with empty cardboard boxes. Go figure.

17. A Make Something Party– Have a party where you make cookies or ornaments that can also be given as gifts can be double the fun because you will be able to spend time with family and friends.

18. Give a Service– People need help with all kinds of things. You can even make a ‘coupon’ book. This only works if you actually do what you say you will and if the person is willing to accept the help.

19. Not Quite Homemade Cards– Cards from the CVS Photo Printer, Printed off your computer, or having your kids make cards can be unique gifts for relatives.

20. Get technical– Give someone a music mix for their iPod or on a CD (does anyone use those anymore?), Digitally create a work of art for someone, burn a CD or USB drive with a collection of photos, preserve old family photos by scanning them into a computer, or help a low tech person do something technical. Putting 80s rock music on mom’s computer might be a good idea.

21. Give an Experience– A day trip to the zoo, rock climbing or year passes to something. Living in FL it is often a great deal to buy season passes to smaller theme parks which we can use all year.

22. Bring Back the Potluck– Who says the person who hosts Christmas dinner has to pay for everything? Having family and friends bring their own dishes is fun and makes things easier for everyone. There’s a reason it has been around for so long.

23. Hand Me Down Decorations– My mother is determined to give away the majority of her Christmas decorations this year because she is downsizing. She has boxes and boxes and boxes of things to distribute. I plan on sticking with the resolution my brother and I made last year not to buy any Christmas decorations and to decorate my house with the decorations I grew up with and love. It makes my mom ecstatic to finally be able to give this stuff away. Don’t be afraid to put the word out through the family tree. I find that Christmas stuff is easy to amass not as easy to get rid of unless you know it’s going to someone you love.

24. Second Hand Decorations– If you don’t have a parent determined to pawn off all of their stuff on you like I do, thrift shops may be a good option. Most thrift stores have gotten smart and saved all of their Holiday decorations for this time of year. You can stock up on all sorts of decorations that are barely used (Hey, Xmiss is only once a year) and barely cost anything.

25. Ask for Help– I was getting overwhelmed with the idea of hosting my entire family for Christmas for the first time this year until I realized I wasn’t alone. All of them are happy to help me with anything I need.

26. Adopt a Pet Instead of Buying One– While it is hard to argue that a pet will save you money, they do bring lots of joy. If you are planning on a pet for Christmas, do a good deed and consider rescuing a pet from a local shelter or rescue group.

27. Keep it Simple– There isn’t just one perfect gift for each person, if you have to pay too much, drive too far, stress yourself out too much whatever X perfect gift is it probably isn’t worth it.

28. Take advantage of the Internet– Play free Christmas music on your laptop. Watch free streaming movies. Google codes for free Redbox/Bluebox movie rentals. Print Free Printable Gift Tags. Print free tree ornaments for the kids to color. Price shop for gifts. The internet has saved me much more money than it has ever cost me.

29. Re-gift– I know that this one may be controversial to some, but we have all been given a gift that we know we will never use. For example- Will anyone care that the gift basket you won in the office gift exchange was re-given to someone who would love it? Why stuff something in the closet to gather dust that someone else would use?

30. Enjoy the Things that Money Can’t Buy– I love being surrounded by the people I love. I love my home and the calm I have created there. I love the holidays and cold air. I spend time enjoying how lucky I am to have what I have. It’s over stated but true, “Money Can’t Buy Happiness” so give thanks and love and it won’t cost you a thing.

Publix Christmas Clearance

My sister and I went to Publix to go grocery shopping yesterday and we couldn’t help looking at the Publix Christmas clearance. They had a lot of candy and some decorations on sale. My favorite find was several types of Publix Christmas reusable gift bags. These gift bags can be reused over and over again and they only cost .50 cents, which is a lot cheaper than most paper gift bags that rip easily. My family already had a very eco-friendly Christmas this year as far as wrapping went. We used comics, store bags, reused gift bags and recyclable wrapping paper. We also like to give out gift bags (usually full of items we get for free couponing) and these .50 cent bags are also perfect for that.

Free Kindle Books

According to online news (Click HERE to read the article) Amazon.com will sell as many as 8 million Kindles in 2010. One of them was given to my cousin for Christmas (See above picture). I love the idea of being able to carry as many books as you want with you at any given time. I usually do this anyway but it’s usually a lot heavier.  She sent me THIS ARTICLE about how to get books for your Kindle for free and for those of you who just got a Kindle for Christmas it could save you a lot of money.

Thanks, Colleen and Pat

Walgreens: Jingle Cash

Right now Walgreens is offering Super Jingle Cash an added bonus when you spend money at their store. If you purchase the amount to qualify for Jingle Cash at the store ( I am told that this amount is before coupons) it will print out after you pay and you can then spend it at a later date.

Information From Walgreens website-

From December 5-18, Walgreens is offering additional ways to save money with our Super Jingle Ca$h program.

Earn Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h with qualified purchases at participating Walgreens stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Here’s how to earn and redeem your Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h.*

Spend $25 or more at Walgreens and receive between $5 and $20 in Super Jingle Ca$h depending on value of total purchase.

Spend $25 – Earn $5
in Super Jingle Ca$h

Spend $50 – Earn $10
in Super Jingle Ca$h

Spend $75 – Earn $15
in Super Jingle Ca$h

Spend $100 or more – Earn up to $20
in Super Jingle Ca$h

A Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h coupon will accompany your receipt.

Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h cannot be earned or redeemed on purchases of the following products and services: prescriptions and items prohibited by law, tobacco, alcoholic beverages, lottery tickets, money orders / transfers, transportation passes, postage stamps, dairy, prescription savings club membership, health care services, gift / phone / prepaid cards.

How to Redeem

Save your Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h and use it on qualifying purchases made in the following week:

Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h
earned from 12/5 – 12/11
Can be redeemed from 12/12 – 12/18

Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h
earned from 12/12 – 12/18
Can be redeemed from 12/19 – 12/23

When you check out at the store, the amount of your Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h will be deducted from your total purchase. Walgreens Super Jingle Ca$h cannot be earned or redeemed on online purchases made at Walgreens.com.

Click HERE to go to their website for more information.

Target- Free Christmas Music

Target is offering Free Christmas Music HERE

Free Printable Christmas Gift Tags

MintPrintables.com offers free Christmas gift tags as well many other free printable items.  I came across these today and thought they were a cute idea. Simply pick the ones you want and print them. Click HERE to go to their site.

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