20 Tips to Have an Amazing Christmas When You’re Broke
This year has hit people hard with many struggling to afford anything for Christmas.
Whether it’s food or gifts, wrapping paper or travel, here are some tips to get things for free and ideas on what you can do to save a lot of money.
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Free and Cheap Food for your Christmas Feast
The biggest part of Christmas for most families, aside from gifts, is food.
It’s a time of year when special treats are indulged in, with some foods only available this time of year.
So how can you afford a feast?
Check out how to get free and super cheap food plus the tips below.
1. Hampers and Help
Charities and some churches offer hampers and food for Christmas but you need to be registered.
Some require you to have a pension/senior/DVA/health care or similar type card to be eligible.
Please, only do this if you genuinely don’t have money as there are limited supplies, especially this year.
2. Free and Discounted Meal Boxes
Many meal delivery boxes offer first-time customers a free box or discount over the first few.
Schedule it for around Christmas to get a variety of meals you can use.
HelloFresh has a free box for new customers.
Their offer is for new and returning customers.
Get up to $144 off Dinnerly (49% off your first order, then 30% off the next two.)
Marley Spoon offers up to $190 off 4 orders! That’s 53% off your first order, and 20% off your next three.
YouFoodz offers up to $200 off your first 5 boxes. Get healthy, prepared meals delivered straight to you.
The fruit and vegetables are high quality but all different shapes instead of ‘supermarket perfect’.
Check out Funky Food and get discounted fruit and veg now.
Always make sure this is legal where you are doing it and check council spraying so you aren’t picking poisoned food.
Berries and stone fruits are typically easy, plus a variety of native foods.
Try bartering or checking local free groups for food as well.
Foraging is used by some expensive restaurants so there’s no harm in giving it a go, legally and safely.
4. Go Fishing
In the lead-up to Christmas, if you have the time and enjoy it, go fishing.
You will need gear and a licence, know where to fish and legalities around size.
We fish regularly and love having salmon, flathead, bream plus a variety of other fish in various ways.
5. Christmas Eve Bargains
If you have some money for food and are not fussy about what you get, go on Christmas Eve before everything closes.
It can be hectic but deli items, meat, dairy and other fresh produce are heavily reduced as they will be closed the following day.
You can get an assortment for a huge discount then work out how to use it.
The downside is you can’t plan and have exactly what you might want but for the prices, it can be totally worth it.
Also, be sure you know what to do with leftovers and how to reduce waste.
Work out who you need to give a gift to and genuinely think about what they would love. Check out these 17 frugal but thoughtful gift ideas to get you started.
6. Reduce the Number of Gifts you have to Give
First, see if you can reduce the number of gifts you need to give.
For example, I am one of 9 kids and we have 26 kids between us. If we ever all got together for Christmas, it would be huge.
As such, we made some changes years ago to make it easier for everyone.
In my family, adults no longer exchange gifts.
Nieces and nephews have their names pulled from a hat and we buy for only a few instead of all of them.
Consider Kris Kringle for other places such as work as well.
With your own kids, it will be harder as you want to get them whatever it is that they want and there is also the “Santa” element.
7. Free Gifts
Look for freebies e.g. we have a huge list of Aussie freebies and sign-up bonuses here which you could use.
Also, check out this list of frugal gift ideas.
Enter competitions to use the prizes as gifts. I’ve won thousands this year in prizes.
Blog giveaways tend to have fewer entries so look for them on social media.
8. For your Partner, if you have no Budget Consider a Love Language gift
What is their love language? Find out about the 5 Love Languages then look at how to give by speaking their language.
Acts of Service
This love language is about doing things for others.
They feel loved when people do things for them and show love the same way.
A coupon book of things you can do for them or surprise them by doing a task they want to be done but haven’t gotten around to it.
Words of Affirmation
Praise and appreciation make this person feel loved.
Fill a notebook with appreciation, your favourite memories together and why, list things they do that show they love you and how it makes you feel etc.
Alternatively, record their own personal podcast using your phone.
Save the files and have them ready to be shared and downloaded by your loved one for their own personal use.
Candlelit dinner, just you guys, go somewhere in nature for free and have some special treats you’ve baked, look up a free event and pack a picnic etc.
Check out this list of free and cheap date ideas.
Look on Facebook Marketplace and other locations for free things they would love.
Or something you can fix up. There are loads of freebies in our area, some would make great gifts.
Offer a massage or similar. Take the time to learn some techniques that will help, watch YouTube videos or read to learn based on your partner’s needs.
So much paper is wasted at Christmas. I am all for getting rid of it completely, but kids love unwrapping gifts, right?
9. Santa Sacks and Reusable Gift Wrap
We use a fabric sack for gifts from Santa instead of wrapping them all.
I made it from fabric reduced to clear at Spotlight and they have been used every year since birth.
This reduces a lot of the paper waste in our home.
Other reusable wrapping or wrapping that is part of the gift can be tea towels and other linen, neutral gift bags instead of Christmas themed etc.
10. Repurpose Artwork
Use the kids’ artwork for wrapping paper or get them to decorate some.
When my kids were young, we had so much art come home from school or art done at home.
Using it as wrapping is a great way to reuse it.
11. Upcycle Packaging
Look at how to use cereal boxes and similar for packaging to make wrapping easier.
Research how to turn packaging into gift boxes, save tissue paper and similar wrapping in any deliveries throughout the year too.
12. Wrap Correctly
Learn the most frugal and effective way to wrap items.
For example, place boxes on angles to use less wrapping paper instead the way most people are taught how to wrap.
13. Utilise Nature
Items such as leaves can be used for gift tags instead of buying them, pinecones can make great decorates, as do dried leaves, flowers and even sticks.
Search Pinterest for nature-inspired decorations and crafts.
This year is one where many families finally have the opportunity to see friends and family over Christmas from other states.
Travelling can get expensive though.
House Swaps are a great way to get free accommodation as is house or pet sitting.
There are Facebook groups available for both options.
Airbnb is often cheaper than hotels but lately, I have had so many issues, I prefer using Booking.com where I get great deals all the time.
Lock in fuel prices with the 7/11 fuel app or make sure you are using your Everyday Rewards and Flybuys cards to get discount fuel.
FuelMap and similar are great apps to show you where fuel is cheapest in your area as well.
Check out how to travel for free or super cheap for some discounts and more ideas.
Traditions and Activities
Part of the fun of Christmas is the activities that can only be done that time of year and become traditions.
I was surprised by what my kids enjoyed and remember the most as it was the free traditions, not big expensive holidays that mattered to them.
Christmas doesn’t need to be expensive.
I’ve been homeless over Christmas and my kids still had a great one.
Look at free traditions you can start such as doing random acts of kindness for the 25 days, volunteering or donating, a non-food advent calendar, go see Christmas lights, learn a Christmas recipe from another country etc.
16. Look At Christmas Lights
Some people do huge displays every year, with specific streets known for their fun displays.
Make it an annual event where you go look at the displays.
You could make it extra fun by making a specific drink e.g. candy cane hot chocolate in a thermos if it’s not too hot a night or some Christmas treats such as fudge, biscuits and milk.
17. Go To Carols
Head to your local carols by candlelight to enjoy a night of singing. Pack a picnic, get your spot and make a night of it. Invite some other families to enjoy it together.
18. Christmas Movie Marathon
Either a movie marathon using a streaming service or choose the movies on free-to-air happening throughout December to watch together.
Pop some popcorn or buy some snacks on sale and enjoy the classics.
19. Christmas Cooking and Crafts
Save boxes, ribbons and random pieces throughout the year to let the kids have a craft day.
Get supplies discounted at The Reject Shop, always check the clearance section of your local shops too and save it all for an annual craft day.
Look up Christmas recipes you want to try or spend a day cooking for gifts items such as biscuits, brownies, slices, truffles and more.
20. Find Free Events
Facebook has an events section which is easy to use to find events for free in your area.
Check your local government site, Facebook groups and community noticeboards as well.
What are you doing to save money this Christmas?
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