Christmas is the time of the year when we open our hearts and enjoy the gift of giving more than receiving. The joy of sharing the holidays with family and friends makes memories that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, Christmas is also a time that can wreak havoc on your finances. Many families underestimate how much they will actually spend during the holiday and find themselves taking on extra debt to pay for the hidden costs of the season. Most families don’t realize that with a little planning, they can reduce their Christmas budget by half. It’s as easy as buying decorations and festive cards when they are on sale and saving them until Christmas. Try these money-saving tips and begin to enjoy the Christmas season without the worry of having to pay back a huge credit card debt in the new year.

1. Create homemade tags

Instead of buying expensive tags to put on your presents, cut last year’s Christmas cards into festive shapes and use these as tags. The colorful picture on the front will turn your Christmas cards into unique tags, while the back of the card can be used to write a name or message. By doing this, you can also reuse the old Christmas cards that tend to be saved but never again looked at.

2. Buy Christmas cards early

Purchasing Christmas cards can be costly, especially if you have a large family. One easy trick to help keep these costs down is to buy cards at the end of the Christmas season when many stores mark down their seasonal merchandise. You may even find that stores have marked-down cards that are prettier and more expensive than you would usually buy if at full price.

3. Give a friendly voice instead of a card

Instead of sending Christmas cards this year, make a short phone call to each person on your list and let them know how much they mean to you. Many times a short phone call is cheaper than buying a card and paying the postage to send it. If you tend to use Christmas cards as a way to share what has happened over the year with your family and friends, a phone call can be an easier and more personal way to do this. Family and friends will cherish hearing your voice this Christmas season, especially if you don’t talk to them much.

4. Use creative wrapping paper

Do you have someone on your Christmas list who loves reading comic books? Why not use the comic section of the newspaper to wrap their gifts? If you have a relative that enjoys reading the comics each morning, they would love to receive a present wrapped with another present.

5. Buy inexpensive bows and ribbons

There is no need to buy expensive ribbons and bows to decorate your gifts. Along with wrapping paper, these will be the first items thrown into the garbage on Christmas morning. With this in mind, don’t throw your money away. Buy your ribbons and bows from a dollar store instead. Most dollar stores have wrapping accessories that are just as pretty but at a fraction of the cost.

6. Save on Christmas decorations

Stores have incredible sales just after Christmas. If you are thinking of making a large purchase, such as buying a Christmas tree and decorations, make these purchases just after Christmas and save them for the next year. Choosing the best time to make large purchases will put some extra money back into your pocket or let you upgrade your decorations to something that you have always wanted, but couldn’t afford.

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