Avoid those extra expenses at Christmas

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Thanksgiving is over; can I say it now? It’s Christmastime!

For most of us, Christmas is the most expensive holiday of the year. In our family, the month of December is especially a pricey one, for my husband anyway. This year we will celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, my “29 and still holding” birthday and Christmas. It is always such an exciting time in our family. As much as I love Christmas and everything that comes with it, it can still be a stressful time of year.

With so much to buy and so much to do, it is easy to spend more money than you planned. Let’s take a step back and look at little ways to avoid that extra spending.

We all are guilty of buying too much or over spending on gifts, but what about the presentation of the gift? The wrapping paper, the bows and the name tag. Is all that necessary? I am not saying we should not be wrapping our gifts, but we do not need to spend a fortune on it! Do you need to buy the pre-tied bows? Do presents even need bows?

Here are a few ideas. How about buying brown paper bag wrapping paper and tying a red string around the box and writing with a marker the recipient’s name? The whole brown paper farmhouse simplicity is really in style; thanks Joanna Gaines.

Maybe you are dead set on traditional wrapping paper. I know this is something I am still into. Last year, the day after Christmas, I bought this year’s wrapping paper 75 percent off. I stored it away and didn’t have to worry about having to pay full price for it.

As far as bows, I cannot tie a fancy Christmas bow to save my life. That was always my grandma’s thing. I also do not buy the bagged bows that always seem to get smushed at some time or another. I buy tulle. I went to the store the other day and for 40 percent off bought 22 yards of tulle for $2. It is very easy to make something similar to a bow with tulle, and if you need help I am sure there is a YouTube video on it. And $2 vs $10 for Christmas print ribbon is a win in my book.

Now let’s actually talk about the gifts. Christmas is so much more than the gifts we receive. Of course, we all love getting those new shoes or toy, but what about giving something more meaningful this year? When we had kids we started a tradition of making at least one gift per grandparent. We usually do a homemade Christmas ornament. Just a fun and easy salt dough-type ornament of the kids’ foot or hand print. This is a great way to give something meaningful but also give something that will hold a lot of memories for years to come.

Maybe you’re not into the whole crafting thing. Give the gift of a family picture. Nothing makes our families happier than getting updated photos of the family to display. Pictures not your thing either? How about just writing a sweet Christmas letter to a love one telling them how much they mean to you? Little gestures go such a long way.

In this busy time of year we can lose sight of what is really important. Don’t go into debt trying to buy enough for someone to show your love for them. If you do tend to overspend, try to look for little ways to cut back. Whether you have the best wrapped gifts in Wilson County or you wrap them in this newsprint, just remember Christmas is about so much more than the gifts.

Happy savings!

Chelsey Edens writes a monthly column about couponing and saving money.