7 Ways To Save Money During the Holiday Season

Enjoy the holidays without overspending and feeling like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #456

holiday family shopping

The holiday season is a long-anticipated time of the year, especially for families with children (young and old alike). The warm glow of twinkling lights and glitzy decorations, the delightful smells of gingerbread and peppermint wafting through our homes, the festive tunes playing everywhere you go. It’s indeed the time for everything merry and bright—oh, and it's expensive!

The holidays have always been my favorite time of the year, especially while raising eight kids over the past 24 years. I begin listening to Christmas music long before Thanksgiving (feel free to roll your eyes!) and can’t wait to deck the halls as early as possible (just ask my kids, they say I become obsessed with the season). To me it is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s also the time of year where our finances can take a hit. 

Here are 7 ways you can save some serious cash this holiday season.

  1. Tip #1: List It
  2. Tip #2: Buy Discounted Gift Cards
  3. Tip #3: Refrain From Extras
  4. Tip #4: Give Experiences Instead of Stuff
  5. Tip #5: Save On Free Holiday Shipping
  6. Tip #6: Purchase a Family Gift
  7. Tip #7: That’s a Wrap

Here is more information about each.

Tip #1: List It

I’ve long been a list person, even before I became the busy mother of eight kids. I never leave home without my master list notebook which I have sectioned into categories such as “Housekeeping Projects,” “Grocery Items Needed,” “Menu Recipes and Ideas,” “Appointments,” etc. One of my categories is also “Holiday Gifts.” I printed a template I found on Realsimple.com and use it all year long but especially when I start my Christmas shopping. Write down everyone you want to buy a gift for. It’s OK to put a dollar amount next to each of their names.  I also list the people who I will tip for the holidays like our rubbish removal people, mail carrier, dog groomer, etc. because it’s important to have a complete handle on all the money you’ll be spending, particularly if you are committed to sticking to a budget.

Tip #2: Buy Discounted Gift Cards

There are always people on your gift list that might be a little more tricky to shop for than others. You may be itching to give your babysitter an adorable hooded vest adorned with sequined snowmen, but deep down you know it will never see the light of day in her cutting edge, trendy wardrobe. When you’re not sure what to buy, gift cards are always a safe bet. I purchase a handful every holiday season, but I never pay full price for them!

There are multiple places you can pick up discounted gift cards at a reduced price. In fact, you can decide between pre-owned and new gift cards.

Pre-owned discount gift cards exist because sometimes people receive gift cards they don't want. For example, they might not prefer the brand of that gift card or the store might be too far away. People can sell their unwanted gift cards for cash offers that are less than the face value of their cards. Gift card resellers then sell these cards for a little bit more but still less than face value.

New gift cards on sale are simply gift cards that are sold for less than face value. Additionally, sometimes merchants offer bonuses for buying a full-priced gift card rather than discounting the initial activation such as a second free gift card, or a great coupon for a future purchase. There are several reputable places you can purchase both pre-owned and new gift cards. Check out giftcardgranny.com, cardpool.com, and ebay.com.  

Tip #3: Refrain From Extras

During the frantic season of the holidays, it’s so easy to splurge on little extras that can ultimately crash your budget. Treating yourself and “the girls” to an unexpected lunch with a bottle (or two) of wine, grabbing a new pair of “must have” boots for yourself, paying for those cute matching snowmen sweaters for you and  your kids—you get the picture.

Cutting back on those extras can have a big impact on your bottom line, but this also takes some discipline. If you commit to sticking to a holiday list as mentioned in tip #1, you will be better able to stay on track and resist those tempting but unneccesary purchases. That money could have paid for a few stocking stuffers so before you splurge on those little extras, be sure it’s really worth the price.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.