Frugal Christmas 2023: A Step-By-Step Guide

A frugal Christmas can help you save money, reduce stress and have more family time. Learn how to have a frugal Christmas this year with our guide.
Colby Brin
December 19, 2022
min read

Planning a frugal Christmas can be hugely beneficial to you and your family. Putting together a plan can reduce many stresses related to your Christmas preparations, ensuring that you can focus on what matters – spending quality time with your loved ones.

With that in mind, we've put together this insightful guide to planning a frugal Christmas, so read on to find out how to take much of the financial stress out of this very special time of the year.

What does it mean to have a frugal Christmas?

A frugal Christmas is about creating and sticking to a festive budget to ensure that you and your family can enjoy a stress-free and enjoyable festive season.

By carefully managing your expenditure on gifts, decorations, and food, you can enjoy the festive period with your family without putting yourself in a tight spot financially – which is what a frugal Christmas is all about.

When you commit to a frugal Christmas, you’ll spend less time rushing around the supermarket buying stacks of food and unnecessary gifts and more time at home with your loved ones.

As a result, you’ll worry less throughout the festive season about the impact of your Christmas expenditure on your financial well-being at the start of the following year.

But how do you achieve a frugal Christmas?

Five tips for starting your frugal Christmas 

The good news is that there are several straightforward ways you can prepare for a frugal Christmas, including the following:

Set your budget 

A frugal Christmas starts with a budget. The key thing to remember is that being frugal at this time of the year isn't about spending nothing at Christmas; instead, it's about spending wisely and mindfully.

So, consider how much money you would like to spend at Christmas and how much you can afford. This will be different for every family, so consider your Christmas expenditure in line with your financial circumstances. 

To achieve frugality at Christmas, it's beneficial to start saving ahead of time. Our app is perfect for budgeting and will help you as you look to save money throughout the year. You can also learn more about saving and setting a Christmas budget by checking out our recent blog post.

Avoid the usual Christmas stress 

While Christmas is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable times of the year, it can also be stressful. Committing to a frugal Christmas is a great way to avoid many of the stresses of the festive season, allowing you to focus on what's important.

Specifically, some things to avoid when being more mindful at Christmas include: 

·   Last-minute grocery shopping. 
·   Black Friday shopping for gifts (or shopping during other sales periods).  
·   Excessive Christmas decorations to impress your neighbours. 
·   Too many Christmas nights out with family, friends, and colleagues.
·   Mountains of food on Christmas Day that you’ll struggle to eat. 

Knowing your expenditure and taking responsibility for your budget will help you avoid many unnecessary stresses associated with this time of the year.

Plan, plan, plan 

To successfully enjoy a frugal Christmas, you must create and stick to a plan. The sooner you put together a plan, the easier things will be. Begin with a savings plan to ensure that you have enough money to spend during the festive season, and plan your grocery and gift shopping well in advance to avoid last-minute stress.

Remember the adage – if you fail to prepare, prepaire to fail! Check out our Christmas planning blog for some top tips on planning for a frugal Christmas.

Focus on family and tradition 

In our humble opinion, the best thing about Christmas is spending meaningful time with your family. Today, the family-oriented nature of Christmas often gets lost as people become consumed with gift-giving and excess.

But you will find that cutting back and focusing on spending quality time with your family is the key to enjoying a frugal Christmas. Play games, watch Christmas movies, and even enjoy home baking to make the most out of your frugal Christmas celebrations.  

Thrift and do-it-yourself

Another top tip for achieving a frugal Christmas is to thrift and incorporate some DIY projects into your planning.

You can task your kids with making Christmas decorations, baking festive treats and cookies, and even setting gift-giving limits to ensure your family members don't splash out unnecessarily.

Not only does this save money, but it adds a creative element to your Christmas celebrations.

Frugal Christmas gift ideas  

One of Christmas's biggest expenses is gifts, which are an important part of the festive season. But it's really important not to get carried away when giving gifts, and you should stick to your budget wherever possible.

So, with that in mind, here are some frugal Christmas gift ideas that won't break the bank:

Use online holiday sales 

Heading out in person to find pre-holiday sales adds to the stress of Christmas shopping.

However, online sales shopping is much less stressful and a great way to find bargains for your loved ones. Check out events like Black Friday and look to buy gifts for your loved ones when there's a sale. 


Regifting is a great way to help you achieve a frugal Christmas. If you have received unwanted Christmas gifts in previous years or have been gifted birthday presents that you don't need or want, you can keep them to one side to offer them as gifts to other people at Christmas.

This is a great way to save money and recycle gifts, preventing them from getting lost in the attic or heading to a landfill. You can learn more about the value of regifting by checking out our recent article

The 4-gift rule 

The four-gift rule is beautifully simple and has recently gained much traction. At its core, parents give their children four gifts: 

·   Something they want  
·   Something they need 
·   Something to wear 
·   Something to read 

We've written a piece on how you can incorporate the four-gift rule into your frugal Christmas, which you can read as part of our article about how many gifts to buy.

A gift amnesty

While it might be challenging to negotiate a gift amnesty with your kids, you can float the idea to some of the adults in your life, be it your siblings or work colleagues.

Instead of buying people gifts for the sake of it, suggest that neither party buys presents for the other, and exchange seasons greetings instead.

You could invite them over for a pre-Christmas meal instead of splashing out on gifts they might not need or want.

Try DIY or second-hand. 

What we love the most about a frugal Christmas is the creativity of DIY gift-giving. Some easy DIY gift ideas include: 

·   A homemade hamper of baked goods. 
·   A bath bomb or some homemade soap. 
·   A mixture of herbs and spices (perhaps picked from your allotment). 
·   A scrapbook of memories from the year gone by. 

 There are so many ways to get creative when giving gifts, so don't feel the need to head to the high street to buy gifts.

Frugal Christmas decoration ideas 

Another thing that can be costly at Christmas is decorating your home. But as is the case with gift giving, it's easy to be frugal, as we explain below:

Simple yet effective 

The size of your tree doesn't matter, and the expense of your chosen ornaments and decorations won't influence how your home looks.

So, grab some inexpensive tinsel and a tree you can afford and invite the kids to make some decorations.

Decorate with family 

Children love the opportunity to create Christmas decorations, and it's a family-fun activity to consider throughout the festive season.

Ask your kids to create an advent calendar, a homemade wreath, and even decorations for the tree, saving you from having to splash out on expensive Christmas decorations while benefitting from a personal touch within your home. 

Decorate with DIYs

Further to the last point, some DIY Christmas decoration ideas include: 

·   Paper snowflakes 
·   Christmas wreaths 
·   Advent calendars 
·   Homemade cards 
·   Baubles and tree decorations

Feel free to ramp up the creativity and add a unique, personal touch to the Christmas décor within your home.

Decorate with nature


You will find lots of items in the natural world that can help you add beauty to your home at Christmas time.

The likes of pine cones, berries, and holly are all perfect additions to your homemade Christmas décor, while you can also opt for a natural Christmas tree.

Decorating with nature is a wonderful way to add something extra special to your home at Christmas – and it's completely free.

Frugal Christmas dinner ideas 

Last but certainly not least, it's time to think about your festive fayre. Here are some simple yet delicious meal ideas to help you prepare a Christmas feast on a budget:

Go classic 

You don't need to serve several birds and all the trimmings to enjoy Christmas dinner with your family. Instead, keeping it to one meat, one carb, and one or two veggies is more than adequate.

Why not serve a delicious honey-roasted ham, some of your signature roasties, and a medley of peas and carrots? What's not to love about that?

Go alternative

Of course, you can serve your family anything on Christmas Day – it doesn't have to be a roast dinner.

If you're a family of pizza lovers (who isn't?), why not make your pizzas with some extra-special festive toppings? Alternatively, you could rustle up a delicious turkey Christmas curry with rice and homemade naan bread – a super affordable and delicious Christmas alternative. 


Have a potluck

If you invite family and friends to join you on Christmas Day, why not go for a potluck? Ask one couple to bring a starter, another to bring a dessert, and another to get the cheese for afters.

You can prepare the main course, and when it all comes together, you have a delicious and affordable potluck Christmas feast.

Focus on the experience, not the food 

It's easy to focus too much on the feast in front of you on Christmas Day while losing sight of what's important – spending time with your loved ones.

So, involve the entire family in your Christmas meal prep and spend as much time as possible together. After all, what you eat won't necessarily make or break the day – it's the company that counts. 

Next steps 

So, there you have it – our complete guide to a frugal Christmas. The key takeaway is that you need to begin with a budget to achieve a frugal Christmas – something that the HyperJar app can help you to succeed.

With your budget set and your savings in place, you can put the above tips to good use and enjoy a wonderful Christmas without breaking the bank.

For further inspiration, check out our recent articles, explaining what to do with unwanted Christmas presents, how to do Christmas on a budget, and some cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts to consider this year.

Colby Brin

Head of Copy

Colby Brin is Head of Copy at HyperJar. With over 17 years of professional writing experience, Colby’s been a journalist, ghostwriter, language consultant, and writing trainer. Having previously served as Head of Copy at Wise, he’s worked in fintech for over six years. A native of New York City, Colby graduated from the University of Michigan, and has lived in London for two years.

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