How to Afford Christmas? When You Can’t Afford Christmas?

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When you’re short on funds, but your friends, family, and especially kids, still need Christmas gifts, you have to get creative if you’re asking how to afford Christmas.

We all know that Christmas isn’t just about gifts, but it seems that the number one question I’m asked from August through December is “Will you adopt my family for Christmas?”. I have to budget to afford Christmas for our girls. We work really hard to pay our bills and save money for everything, including holidays.

Affording Christmas when you can’t really afford Christmas is about planning. Don’t wait until the last minute or you’ll end up frantic. If you DID wait until the last minute, we’ll talk about that, too.

How to Afford Christmas: Change Your Mindset About Christmas

What is Christmas really about to your family? Most likely, it’s about spending time together. You can do this without spending a dime. Exchanging gifts is fun but it doesn’t have to be an over the top kind of thing, you know?

You’ve also gotta be inventive when you’re broke. Hell, even when you aren’t broke, being inventive is a good thing. Think outside the box! How can you MAKE their Christmas amazing? It can be an experience you give them; it doesn’t have to be unwrapping gifts.

LAST MINUTE Christmas Ideas

If you only have a few weeks until Christmas, or even a week, I recommend going with handmade gifts from recycled things such as toilet paper rolls and newspaper. I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out! If you search Pinterest for “recycled crafts” or “upcycled crafts”, you’ll get a gazillion ideas thrown your way.

Even if you aren’t crafty, you can buy $20 worth of baking ingredients and make salt dough handprints for the grandparents, and cookies for Santa. You can put a book together with scrap paper.

Honestly, the key to having an awesome Christmas when you’re down and out is: ditch the pity party and get to work! Keep reading for TONS of ideas.

25 DIY Christmas Basket Ideas You’ll Love Making This Year

Picking out the perfect Christmas present is hard work, so why choose one when you can give many? The following DIY Christmas basket ideas allow you to create a totally personalized present for your friends and family members. Whether you’re in the market for a gift for Mom (hello, pedicure basket!), a present for Dad, a present for your sibling, or hostess gifts for all the Christmas parties you’re going to, there’s something in here that will please anyone on your list.

No matter what you’re looking for, one thing’s for sure: These themed Christmas gift baskets are stuffed to the brim with presents the lucky recipient will actually use. From kid-friendly baskets packed with hot chocolate and ice cream sets, to more adult options that include a mimosa kit and kitchen essentials, you’ll soon find that gift giving just got a whole lot easier. Not to mention, these Christmas basket ideas also eliminate the need for wrapping paper (meaning you don’t have to bother to learn how to wrap a gift!). And because you can DIY these presents, the cost of the gift is completely up to you. By the time you’re finished, you might just want to ditch the gift wrap and stocking stuffers altogether and opt for the following Christmas basket ideas.

Do you have any other basket ideas? Leave them in the comments so we can help everyone figure out how to afford Christmas this year!

Also, be sure to PIN THIS POST and share it with your friends! I want these posts to help as many people as possible. I know what it’s like to not be able to afford bills, much less holidays.

Around the holidays, it’s difficult to get help because so many are asking for it. It’s better if you can collect things year-round instead, but if all else fails you can post a “searching for” or “wanted” ad on your local Freecycle.

Some crazy horror stories have been on the news about Craigslist, so I don’t want you hitting up some random creeper and heading to their house for a free TV.

Local Churches

Call around to local churches, food banks, and other social services and ask about Christmas help. It’s best to do this in October, so there are still funds available.

Shop with a Cop

When I was a kid, I was chosen to do “Shop With a Cop” – they gave us a $100 budget and had a police officer take us around Walmart. See if you have a similar program in your area.

Use Coupons

There are literally thousands of coupon blogs, so I’m not going to try and list them all. I have my favorites, and you can easily find favorites of your own by using Google and Facebook.

Earn Gifts

Sign up for Swagbucks. Earn points and trade them in for gifts.

If you enter giveaways year round, you could win enough gifts to cover Christmas for free!!

Local Charities

This website has a list of local charities that help, organized by state.

Goodwill Outlet

The regular Goodwill can get expensive, but the Goodwill Outlets are super cheap. If you live in St. Louis, there’s one on Market Street. Pay less than $1 a pound for books, clothes, glassware, etc. Get big-ticket items like couches for less than $5. Phoenix has one, too most big cities do.

Projects from the Goodwill Outlet:

Duct Tape Suitcases – Total cost: less than $5 each
Duct Tape Boots – Total cost: less than $3 each pair
Play Kitchen – Total cost: less than $15
Tie Dye Jeans – Total cost: less than $5
Bra Purses – Total cost: less than $2

See also: 40 Duct Tape Craft Tutorials

Wrapping Gifts When You’re Broke

he holidays can be a stressful time, and that includes putting stress on your finances. Thankfully, thoughtful and custom gifts don’t have to be expensive. If your wallet is missing some green this holiday season you can still make and create amazing gifts and experiences that will have the people you love the most feeling important this holiday season.

Check out 10 ways to give holiday gifts even when you’re broke.

Host a potluck.

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There’s a good chance that your friends are also strapped for cash this time of year, so why not host a potluck and have everyone contribute one dish? Great parties can be thrown for $100 or less (click here to find out how). If you want something for your guests to take home as well, ask your friends to make cookies and bring their own tins for a Cookie Exchange. Check out this delicious cookie recipe from Gusto.

Curate a playlist for friends.

Mixtapes have always been a fun gift to give friends, but with cassettes and CDs going the way of the dinosaurs, it’s even easier than ever to make your friend a banging playlist just for them. Thank you, Spotify

Send 12 days of postcards.

Make your own advent calendar by sending your friend a fun postcard every day for the 12 days leading up to the holidays. Include a fun memory from the year, something you love about them, or draw a picture. It’s rare to get fun snail mail anymore and postcards are an inexpensive and fun way to make the mail fun again

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Give a custom gift.

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If you do have a bit of cash laying around for gifts this year, but don’t know what to get for the person who has everything, make it custom. Companies like Canvas Pop make you the artist, choosing your own photos and maybe your friend’s painting to put on a pillow, canvas and more.

YouTube DIY tutorials.


What did we do before YouTube? There are tutorials on making just about anything and that includes thoughtful homemade gifts. Try Much Creator Letitia Kiu’s super cute holiday décor DIY projects for the festive friend in your life.

Use books as your Christmas cards.

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Have books laying around that you love but won’t read again? Use them as holiday cards. Write a personal message inside and give them to a friend or relative you think would love the book as much as you did. Bonus: More shelf space for you.

Make a family recipe.

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If your friend or relative is busy around the holidays, receiving a homemade meal could be the difference between them having a happy holiday and a hangry holiday.

Put together dessert ingredients.

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Grab some mason jars and the ingredients for hot chocolate and voila, you have a cute and thoughtful DIY dessert gift.

Dress up a snack pack.


Never underestimate the happiness that comes from receiving a personalized candy package full of your favourite treats.

Design a friendship date night.

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The holidays are about showing people how much you care, so remind your friend or relative that they’re loved by planning a special night around their favorite things. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Watch their favourite show on CraveTV, catch a movie marathon, plan a meal they like, grab a bottle of wine or take in a favorite holiday pastime like skating or looking at the Christmas window displays.

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