Week 99er’s Tips and Tricks for a Frugal Holiday

frugal holiday tips
Thanksgiving Dinner
The holiday season officially starts next week. I know not everyone is ready for it, and others are completely excited about the family togetherness time and of course the food! But we all know that with comes expense – food, presents, travel – the list goes on and on.
So what do you do if you’re low on money? You still want to have a great Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate? What do you do to stretch those dollars and still have the same impact you had for the kids and family as you did when the purse strings weren’t so tight?

I certainly do not have all of the answers – but this is my Fifth holiday season without work… so I’m starting to get the hang of this! I was laid off from a graphics position, and took a season off for a surgery before I had the job at the design firm.. so Here we go again! I have a few useful tips and tricks that might help you stretch those dollars further this holiday season, so you can have the best one you can!

Let’s start with the FOOD – it’s what we’re all looking forward to :). Pumpkin pie and turkeys oh my! So how do we cut back on the expense on the food? Make it at home!

Let’s do a little math here – say you pick up your meal at Boston Market, or a similar place. There is nothing wrong with that – and if that is your choice, fine! But it’s not the cheapest option. Their Turkey Dinner meal is going to cost you about $7 per person (say you have 16 coming over), your OOP expense for 16 servings of sliced turkey (not realistic servings we all know that), 8 large sides and 16 corn breads.. your cost will be $112 dollars.

Shop the deals – you can get a 18 lb turkey this time of year for as low as 19¢ at some stores! But even if you spend $21 on your turkey, $5 on your potatoes, $2 on canned green beans (or frozen – fresh will cost a bit more), $5 for sweet potatoes and pie.. you’re still under $50. Yes – you have to make it yourself, it takes time, effort etc – trust me I know but it’s worth the money savings.

Even something like homemade stuffing can save you a lot of money. It costs $1.50 a box of stuffing mix – that feed 2-4. Realistically you will need 2-3 depending on the size of your party. (Check Meijers next week – they have a buy 3 Get 1 free deal! plus there is a pullie coupon for B4G1 free around too – you could save big on boxed!). But if you make it from scratch you need 1 loaf of bread (half really), 1 onion, 2 stalks of celery (buy the whole heart and use the rest for sides etc) and 2 tbs butter and 1 can of broth.  Your out of pocket expense for all the ingredients will be around $5 but you will only use half of the bread and only a portion of the celery – you can make enough for 15 with that – you’re going to drop the cost per serving down to less that 30¢ per guest!

There are other things you can do too – buy a whole pumpkin and make your own puree – you will have enough to last the whole holiday season for under $2  – instead of buying canned!

Remember you can run to the bulk store and get small amounts of spices for your recipes instead of buying whole bottles too!

Work your coupons and deals – there are a LOT of great deals for food and baking supplies. Follow the blogs to find out the best matchups – stock up and don’t get what you don’t need.

They are little things – but doing things from scratch can cut your food cost down considerably!


This is where the first cuts normally happen. But the first thing you need to do is make a budget. Stick firm to your budget! If you don’t have the money don’t spend it. Don’t run up credit cards – only spend the money you have – if it’s $100 for everybody that’s all you spend.

It’s hard, I know. But there is no point getting yourself into debt for one or two days a year. If you’re tight on cash, your friends and family know that. They’re not going to expect huge gifts.

So you have a limited budget – how do you stretch it?

First make the list of who you need to buy for, and what you want to get them. Stick to it. It’s that simple. I know it’s harder to do than to say – but I do it every year.

I know, not everyone shops all year, and many of you are rubbing your hands together with delight with Black Friday coming up (I am too!). But one place to always look is the clearance area at the store. Always check the back end caps, always check for a different colored tag. I know our local Walmarts have huge sections of toys that are on clearance. Why? They’re last season. But does your kid even care about that? They still want those Zsu Zsu pets, they still like Iron Man – who cares if it’s from this summer! Once you remove that clearance tag, they will never know!

Work the deals online! I know that’s a very broad statement. But a couple months ago I used a Restaurant.com deal through Shopathome.com. Not only did I get my friend a $25 gift certificate for one of our favorite places, I only paid 25¢ for it! If you have a site you like to work through, find some great deals!

Remember a lot of bloggers post deals, you can find some great deals through them! We spend hours each day researching deals – we do this for you and for ourselves!

Another way to get affordable deals – use your store overage if you can. If you find a great deal on a toy, and have a coupon – that’s great, but if you can use some of your overage towards it it’s less money out of your pocket!


Another great way to find gifts – with no cost to you – Giveaways and Contests! There are a lot of giveaways on every blog – I have several going on right now too.

Each week I even host a “Giveaway Roundup” where other bloggers can list their giveaways for you to enter!

Enter as many as you can – you might end up getting prizes that will be great gifts for others, or you may end up getting great things for you!

There are a lot of things you can do cut back. We’re all cutting back in some areas this year. Try not break your budget if you don’t have to. There are way to get good deals and provide great presents for everyone without going broke.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season! I will be updating the giveaways and cheap gift ideas as often as I can!

Happy Shopping!


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