My Frugal Christmas on a Budget

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Yes, money is a bit tight for me this year, and so I’m celebrating a frugal Christmas on a budget. As the holiday time approaches, I know that this can be stressful for folks. I have put a good plan in place for myself to maximize my enjoyment of the holidays according to my own values. However, sometimes I will see a commercial or a flyer that emphasizes spending and gift giving and I will feel a pang of stress in my heart.

For this reason, I wanted to share MY plan with the Frugalite community in case there are some tips that might be helpful to YOU.

According my own values, I am placing an emphasis on appreciating my friends and family who have been there for me during a difficult year. I want to show my appreciation for them during the Christmas season, even though I don’t have a ton of cash to buy flashy gifts. Here are some ways that I saved, budgeted, and made gifts so that I could enjoy the holidays with friends and family and show them my love and appreciation.

I’m eating from my pantry this month.

In good times, I always stash a bit away. In my bank account? No, in my pantry.

These days especially, an investment in food will pay a dividend far beyond any savings account in any bank that I know of. So, in order to save a bit of extra cash for the holidays, I am eating mainly from my pantry this month.  By cutting back on my grocery spending (as well as my gas to drive to the grocery store), I am saving some money to finance my modest holiday spending.

Learn how to do this by reading our prior article on the subject HERE.

I’m selling some stuff online.

Last week, I looked through my few boxes of personal stuff and found a couple of things I don’t need anymore. I posted them on some local buy and sell pages. Voila! Someone is coming to buy a couple pairs of my old boots on Sunday….and I am making $60 cash!

I’m relying on my “Christmas pantry.”

While I have a food pantry I can draw on, I also have a small pantry of holiday items, too. I mainly find these at my favorite local thrift shop in the off-season. One example are my Christmas cards. I was delighted to open my holiday pantry bag and find some high quality cards I had bought two years ago. After adding a $3 box of lower quality cards from our local dollar store, I am ready to write my cards!

(And for ideas on what to do with the Christmas cards people send you – after the holiday, of course – check out our article on such HERE.)

In addition, I always have a few extra Christmas ornaments in my bag. This year, I have two gold stars, suitable for hanging on a tree. I find that people really enjoy receiving a nice Christmas ornament as a gift. Sometimes I attach it on the outside of their Christmas card, while other times I wrap it separately. As I shop throughout the year, I also have time to find ornaments that suit a person nicely.

In a big sale just before Christmas one year, I was able to find a bus-shaped ornament for a cousin who drives a bus for a living. That was fun AND it was more than 50% off!

I’m not giving a lot of gifts.

Due to the circumstances this year (much like last year), we will not be having as many family gatherings and parties as we used to. This means that I will simply be giving fewer gifts. There is less pressure to buy for people in my wider social circle than there used to be.

To be honest, I find that to be a bit of a relief. I have my cards ready, and will write up cards with a personalized message for my extended family and friends. However, I only plan to actually give gifts to what I would call my inner circle: my closest friends and family members.

What are a few examples of my thrifty homestead gifts?

My Christmas list is relatively short this year: I am buying for my mother and sister, one older cousin, a good friend (he lives several hours away), another good friend (he lives near me locally), and an aunt who lives nearby. As none of these friends and relatives read my Frugalite articles, I will reveal these gifts in advance to readers:

My Mother and Sister

I paid to express ship a small colony of my kefir to the city where my mother and sister live. With these live kefir grains, they will have the ability to make their own kefir every 24 – 48 hours, with only fresh whole milk required for the process.

Kefir is a powerful probiotic with many health benefits. Since they live next door to each other, they can share the colony and its kefir production. Interested in learning more about kefir? I have a How To Guide about getting started making your own kefir on my website.

This gift cost me less than $20 for the express shipping envelope.

My Older Cousin

I gave this cousin some of my Famous Strawberry Rhubarb Jam in the summer. She was raving about it! She even hinted that she might like some more. I only have a few jars left, so I have saved her one to give as a Christmas gift.

She ALSO told me recently that she loves rhubarb. I have also saved her a jar of rhubarb preserves, with the rhubarb picked from our family farm. I also picked her up a few white chocolates to boot (this is a long-time favorite of hers).

This cost me under $4 for the entire gift.

My Long-Distance Good Friend

Shipping larger gifts can be expensive. I am planning to send my friend one of my beautiful Christmas cards (bought off-season at the thrift shop). As a gift, I will write him a poem about a special project that he undertook this year which was dear to his heart.

I hope to celebrate this meaningful chapter in his life through my poem. The cost of this gift is a few hours of my time, a card from my Christmas pantry, and a $1 stamp (I have some of these in my Christmas pantry too!).

My Nearby Good Friend

My nearby good friend is a homesteader like myself. He’s often out chasing chickens at dusk. We recently discussed my headlamp, and I was raving about it. Living off-grid and having to be out starting my generator and clearing off solar panels, I would consider it crucial to my homesteading life.

My plan is to shop at our local hardware store to try and find a good headlamp for him on sale before Christmas. The budget for this would not be much more than $20.

My Aunt

My elderly Aunt LOVES quilting. I recently complimented her on a gorgeous shirt she has with a quilting pattern on it.

That got me thinking: I own an absolutely stunning Christmas sampler quilt I picked up in our local thrift shop a few years ago. It was a find! It is hand-stitched, with Christmas themed-fabrics and a red and green border.  I decided last week to give it to my Aunt. As I have had a few years of enjoying it, I know she will absolutely love it!

Cost of this gift: $0

Very Merry….with Less!

Here’s wishing you a Frugalite Christmas! What is your Christmas going to be like this year? How are you budgeting and planning for this season? Do you have a thrifty tip or gift idea you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

My Frugal Christmas on a Budget


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

12 thoughts on “My Frugal Christmas on a Budget”

  1. You betcha! Between the financial issues and the shortages, I think many people are finding ways to make their Christmas a frugal one. Shopping local is one way, and for Heaven’s sake stick to that budget! I’m also giving home made gifts this year, and I think people will appreciate them even more than the bought, trendy, and expensive things. And who wants to deal with the post-Christmas debt anyway? I don’t! For me, Christmas is about being with the people I care for, and who care for me. Who needs more “stuff?” Unless it’s a head lamp, of course. I also love my head lamp! I’ve blown snow many times in the dark safely, thanks to that little item!

    1. Hi Jayne, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You highlight a lot of key issues that I think will resonate with many Frugalite readers. And your headlamp. hahahaha! Thanks for a great laugh today. I believe that was very good for my health! I always appreciate your comments on Frugalite articles, and now, your great sense of humour! Wishing you a Frugal and thoroughly joyful Holiday season this year!!!!

  2. Being in our 70’s, my group of friends gets together for a dinner in which we all bring our best dish made from a new recipe. One year we ate a lot of meat dishes, but last year we all seemed to bring desserts. It’s fun. Then we all throw money into a pot and play a board game. The winner gets to decide which charity to donate the money. We are all of different financial situations, so we just throw in what we want. None of us needs a thing, especially useless “stuff” we do not use or like.
    I give a set amount of money to the grandkids, but as my children are doing better than I am, we don’t exchange gifts.
    Christmas to me means church and loved ones. That’s it. I will spend more on a pricier ham and a fancier dessert, but that’s all. No Amazon packages, shopping in crowded stores with little merchandise, and no credit card bills in January.
    I love your idea of practical gifts! The quilt story made me tear up. I found a hand-knit baby blanket in a thrift store and gave it to my niece. Her child still has it and she is 15 years old now and plans to use it for her first child (hopefully in 9 or 10 years, we tell her).
    Merry thrifty and practical Christmas to you!

    1. Hi Marie, I absolutely loved your description of your dinner with your friends. Were I nearby, I would try to snag an invite. It sounds totally fun, especially the board game with a difference. Good for you that you have a group of like-minded friends like those. They are pricelss treasures, truly. What a beautiful story about the baby blanket you gave to your niece. Isn’t it amazing how you can find an item like in a thrift shop and it can become a family heirloom. It is so nice to think of that blanket making its way through the future generations. Merry thrifty and practical Christmas, to you, as well, Marie!

  3. Pingback: 5 Fantastic Homemade Gifts for Frugal Holiday Giving

  4. Debs in Central Texas

    In the past, we’ve given home made soap (the young grandkiddos loved their soap), homemade jams and jellies (wild plum is a special favorite), crocheted hats/caps and scarves, homemade cloth napkins, pumpkin bread, homemade lip balms, hand turned wooden snowmen and Christmas trees made on my husband’s lathe with wood from our trees, also wooden bowls he made. This year, I’ve been enjoying making hand dipped beeswax tapers, and plan to give pairs of these as gifts. Making one’s own candles at least halves the cost of candles, and beeswax actually improves the air.

    1. Hi Debs, Thank you so much for posting about all of these wonderful gifts. Personally, I would be thrilled to receive any one of them. I have always wanted to make my own beeswax tapers. What size wick do you use for them? If you happen to see my reply, I would love to hear a bit more about your experience of making them. I have a blanching pot that is fairly deep. I was thinking that would be deep enough for dipping. I bet those wooden snowmen were so cute! Wishing you a very Frugal and Merry Christmas this year!

      1. Debs in Central Texas

        Colette, I enjoy reading your posts – you are quite creative in some of the ways you save! I hope you have a warm, thankful and joyous Christmas.
        I’ve learned a few things I can pass on.
        I will contact you through your website.

        1. Hi Debs, Thanks so much. It is always the most wonderful feeling to hear from readers who are enjoying my writing. I am so glad to hear that! That is so kind of you to reach out. Much appreciated!

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