I can’t believe we’re already getting to the time of year where little pumpkin candies are popping up and Christmas lights are on display. The world revolves around money it seems. That’s sad to me and I’d imagine most of us are after the same exact thing – a slower, simpler, maybe more frugal lifestyle. No more frantic, racing hearts and minds while attempting to accomplish the smallest tasks! With the way this world is spinning, we could all benefit from taking it down a notch. For many of us, that starts with money. Spending less money, saving more money, and finding things that do with friends and family that won’t break the bank. During the holidays, having people visit can get pricey! My husband can be one of the most frugal men you’ll ever meet, so here’s how we get by during the holidays by having a frugal holiday season.
Going out to do things can break the bank, Y’all. But that doesn’t mean we don’t go out with our family during the holidays! One of our most favorite things to do is dollar bowling night, and this will come in handy while attempting a frugal holiday season. One of our local bowling allies has Dollar Bowling Night Mondays and Thursday. That means you pay $1 for each pair of shoes and $1 per game, per person. When you have 11 people in town and want something to do, that provides a pretty cheap activity (and kills time!). Look up your local allies and see what promotions they offer.
Both of our families have a holiday tradition of going to see a movie. I can’t remember the last time we went to a “regular” theater but I very clearly remember the prices and they were upwards of triple what we pay at the smaller theater we go to. Here’s the pricing on this Touchstar Cinema theater:
$4.00 Matinees (before 6 pm)
$4.00 Children, Seniors, Students, Military
$5.00 Adults (after 6 pm)
Art films are an additional $1.00
3D films are an additional $2.50
Cheap, Cheap, CHEAP! These Touchstar Cinema theaters also have electric reclining chairs equipped with a swing-in-front tray for your snack and drink, most have a large food menu (with beer and wine!), and some of them will even deliver the food right to your seat. For a large family movie night at a regular theater, you pay a minimum of $10 per ticket and that adds up mighty quick. I bet you have a Touchstar Cinema in your area or something like it, so I’d definitely say check it out.
Buy Used, Gift Used
I was recently listening to “The Slow Home Podcast” and there was an episode on buying gifts at Christmas. I don’t need anything and if I put things on a list, it’s usually something I need for my work on the farm or a fruit tree. But, gifts are fun and often people still buy them. Buying gifts for multiple people will break the bank so check these outlets first for a frugal holiday season!
My mom introduced me to Freecycle a long time ago. I live in a more rural county so the options aren’t always plentiful, but larger cities such as Tampa and Ocala are nearby, so I have options. Freecycle is exactly what it sounds like. People are posting items that they’re giving away all for free. You can offer items or post in the “wanted” section. As far as I can tell, every single county in the US has a Freecycle page. It’s free to join and so very worth it. Remember, always donate when you can. It helps to cut down on waste! #savetheEarth You can find some great items on Freecycle to regift or make a DIY gift for someone!
Offer Up and Let Go:
There’s an app for that… but seriously! These aren’t just ways to live, they’re apps to download. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s so easy to just go and pick up the item you need, brand new, and not have to deal with waiting but money is often something I don’t want to throw around. “Offer Up” and “Let Go” are names of the apps you download to your phone. I’ve bought a beautiful, brand new rain catcher barrel from someone on Let Go and it was handpainted, never used for $30! On both these apps, you can leave feedback so there’s an honest system going so you aren’t concerned about your safety. I bet you could find some affordable Christmas Gifts here!
Ebay is something I never thought to use. It always seemed so “scammy” for me, for some reason. Since I started aiming to live a more frugal lifestyle, I’ve returned to Ebay multiple times during the holiday season. My favorite item I’ve bought is my Ninja Blender! Originally $100 and I bought it for $40. I use that thing every single day and it’s a trusty piece of equipment. Frugal Win! Don’t strike Ebay off the list, Y’all! Check there first if you’re wanting to buy someone a designer handbag for Christmas.
This is a new one I’ve just started to use. My sister and brother-in-law in California have bought almost every piece of furniture they own from Facebook Marketplace. I finally gave in and took a look and it’s a pretty great resource. There are people who also give away free items there, but a lot of it is selling for a pretty low price.
Recently I found a fella who worked in the lumber/landscaping field and was giving away free, fresh cut trees (cut into wood I could use for good lookin’ garden beds!). The next day I went back to that same fella and filled a huge bag up with fresh pine shavings to use as bedding in the hen house. I always bring him a dozen eggs as a “thank you”. This could also be a great way to get to know your neighbors and community. Now, you probably wouldn’t give someone wood for Christmas, but the point is there are quality items to be found here at a cheap price so allow your frugal mind to explore the avenue. It’ll get you one step closer to your best frugal holiday season yet!
Family Game Nights
Frugal tip #1 is what this should’ve been! Emerson’s family is HUGE on games and I grew up occasionally playing Monopoly or Scrabble but it wasn’t nearly as often as him. Now, I love board games! The usuals in our house are Backgammon, Taboo, and Yahtzee!. We also play Boggle and Pit which are another two of my favorites now. Taboo is an awesome group game, kind of like charades, and we usually force every to play it during the holidays. It brings great belly laughs and just a plain good time. You can pass so many hours just by playing games, so don’t forget about it when your house is crammed full of people, smells of pecan and pumpkin pie, and the best frugal holiday season yet.
TIP: Often you can find a lot of these games at a local thrift store! Just check that all the pieces are there, of course. What’s your favorite board game? Tell me below in the comments!
Free/Cheap Day Activities
Cornhole: Okay, you’d have to build or buy boards for this one but once you have them you never have to buy them again! This game is so great because you just set the boards in your yard and go outside to play whenever you want or can. Cornhole games are a regular occurrence when we have family visiting.
Bocce Ball: Emerson asked for this game for Christmas and it’s a hoot. Again, you have to buy the set, but it’s not expensive and it gives allows for a good time at a low price. You can play bocce ball in your yard or a nearby park. Play singles or teams, great for the whole family!
+2 BONUS Frugal Tips!:
Buy in Bulk:
I planned my own wedding celebration for my side of the family and the only way I was able to afford the food was by buying in bulk at Sam’s Club. If you have a lot of family coming into town this holiday season, you can keep it frugal by shopping in bulk. As it is, food becomes one of the main expenses. See if you can find someone who might let you borrow their membership card once a year. Some bulk clubs will allow you a one day pass, too. You can save so much money by buying items such as bacon, vegetables, and fruit in bulk!
Okay, this isn’t exactly a seasonal family holiday list but it could be if you all like to listen to books on tape together and want to keep it frugal! Or maybe you’re taking a long road trip and need something to pass the time. We have an audible subscription which I love so much, but I’m wracking up those credits so I’m going to cancel that subscription. It’s only $14.95 a month, but that adds up if you’re on a tight budget. A great alternative I just recently learned of is “Overdrive” (The updated version is now called “Libby”). This is an app that allows access to all the audiobooks that your local library offers. I just finished listening to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and the app works great! You check out the book as you would at the library, listen to it, and return it all from your phone.
The best part about this app? You can share library card numbers across counties with friends and family! So if you want to download Libby, let me know, and I’d love to exchange library card numbers! This means we have a larger selection of books. This can be a great feature for homeschoolers and I look forward to using it when I have children.
If you’re looking to declutter during this frugal holiday season before all your friends and family gets in town, declutter with my “Declutter Your Home Before the Holidays: Six Weeks to Simplify“!