How To Downsize Your Christmas Expenses

Christmas Is Different But It Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Celebrate

Christmas expenses have to be paid by cash, scaled back, or just non-existent this holiday season.

At the very end of this post, I’d love for you to comment about how Christmas in your house may look different for 2020.

A Christmas Story will always be different for families around the world however Covid-19 has forced us to make changes.

I bet most of you might answer this the same as I will. All I want for Christmas is for life to be back to the way it was.

You try it. Say to yourself, All I want for Christmas is _____________.

I Can’t Afford Christmas Expenses

Getting Christmas help for your family is an option but not everyone is willing to take it.

Sometimes pride steps in the way of asking for help and instead the second option are to use a credit card.

Honestly, Christmas for us is being with family and eating way too much food and gorging on sweets. Ya!

The problem with Christmas 2020 is that everything is limited and more people are opting to stay home alone.

At the very end of this post, you will read what many CBB fans plan on doing to reduce Christmas expenses.

They also explain why it has to be this way for them with each answer being very personal.

Christmas Presents

Trimming Christmas Expenses

This Christmas season feels far different than any other that I’ve experienced living in Canada.

Many Canadians I’ve spoken to have been laid off or had their hours scaled back leaving them on a very tight budget.

I’ve created a Christmas Budget Planner but that won’t help anyone for 2020 but now you can plan for Christmas 2021.

This year our Christmas expenses have taken a nose-dive as we only buy for 2 people however we are hosting dinner.

The good part is we have an artificial tree so we don’t have to pay for a real Christmas tree each year. .

I understand the premise behind the real tree but it’s another one of those Christmas expenses you can trim.

Shops such as Goodwill and Value Village sell fake Christmas trees for cheap.

You may even find one for sale on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji so you can put the money you do have towards something else.

Christmas Bonus Bounced

Gone are the days when employers would give employees a Christmas Bonus and some very lucrative.

Mrs. CBB when she was working would get $1000 each Christmas minus taxes but it was a huge help.

That’s long gone from what she’s heard through the grapevines.

If employers still hand out a Christmas bonus it may be a turkey or small gift card.

Businesses are struggling and it all becomes a domino effect so keeping up with trends and traditions is tough.

The worst thing any individual could do is put Christmas expenses on their credit card.

If you can’t pay it in full you don’t need to create a Christmas experience like you once did but with better cash flow.

It’s ok to say I can’t afford Christmas or that perhaps we could honor Christmas Day a different way.

Christmas Doesn’t Feel The Same

While visiting the mall the other day to get our son’s Christmas ornament with engraving we noticed how solemn it felt.

The energy and hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers were met with a few people in and out of the stores.

I can only assume that Canadians are opting to shop online for Christmas this year which is no surprise.

We have purchased Christmas gifts online as well because it’s easier and the prices are competitive.

I think if shoppers don’t have to go out in the snow to shop they will stay home and shop online.

Besides with cashback options and rewards especially from Rakuten and Great Candian Rebates you can’t go wrong.

Where Santa’s village once stood for all the kid’s delight was nothing more than a couple of silver trees and gifts underneath.

The mall used to be decorated from top to bottom and that was no longer anywhere to be seen.

Stress During The Holidays

Instead, we had our hands sanitized about 10 times going in and out of stores, felt rushed and stressed out.

Maybe we aren’t the only couple out there experiencing Christmas stress but we are.

While we are trying to find the gifts we need we are staring at arrows on the ground hoping not to smash into anyone.

We are focusing on staying away from other customers and to follow the Covid-19 protocol.

That alone is exhausting and causing us to shop less because we have no desire to look around.

No Money For Christmas Gifts

Holiday stress may also be for people with no families and nowhere to go or unable to afford gifts for their loved ones.

There are community services that can help with Free Christmas gifts and perhaps a hot Christmas dinner.

It’s worth exploring the options available to you by calling local churches or community organizations.

This year we will be going downtown with a brand new winter jacket for someone in need.

It’s a 250 dollar winter coat with the tags still attached and we will wrap it up and pass it on.

Hopefully, we get the opportunity to chat with someone who is living on the streets so we can listen to their story.

If not, they will get a warm coat for winter and that’s our way of giving back.

Christmas Expenses Shopping Local

There have been many adverts asking Canadians to shop local and support the family businesses who are suffering this Christmas.

While that sounds like a fantastic idea most little shops have prices that are far beyond what most Canadian families can afford.

It’s a case of if I bought the boots at the mall for $100 or do I buy them at the local shop for $150?

Every dollar counts however some people can support the small shops and will do so.

For those people not shopping at small shops the choice is obvious for two reasons;

  1. It costs more money
  2. Canadians can’t afford the extra costs

I think it’s clear where Canadians who are on a tight Christmas budget will shop and that’s where they will get the best prices.

Christmas with family

mashed cauliflower keto

For many Canadians, there won’t be any big Christmas festivities with family because of Covid-19.

Our little bubble of 6 which is just family will be spending a day together on Christmas Eve Day and night.

We will be preparing a

Baking will be limited as there are only 4 adults and all of us are keto, low-carb, or watching sugar intake.

That means we will be making our favourite treats but using our Keto recipes.

Thick Classic Date Squares-3

We don’t need too much but we do like to prepare a Christmas can of cookies for our neighbours who are just amazing people.

Typically we will also make fried dough or potato zeppole donuts and we may do a small batch this year.

I’m also buying a small bag of chestnuts that I plan to roast over the charcoal BBQ on the front porch.

The great thing about baking is that you can limit how much you make rather than buying a container at the grocery store.

At the CBB house, it will be a quiet Christmas and the first with no parents  or which makes it even harder for us

Family Gift Option

Typically Mrs. CBB and I do not buy Christmas gifts for each other any longer.

When we were dating we did spend some money to buy gifts but we didn’t go overboard.

I remember one year I got a Mike Holmes book about renovations. I laughed because we had just bought our house and I took that as a hint.

The following year while living in our new home we decided to buy a family gift since there were only two of us.

If you’ve ever ventured down the family gift idea you may buy a vacation for the family or a much-needed renovation for the home.

Cyber Monday Family Gift

Our first family gift was our Smart TV which at the time was a big deal and costs near $900 on Cyber Monday.

It’s lasted us almost 10 years and finally was laid to rest about a month ago.

Thankfully we took home my mother-in-law’s smart tv which is 55 inch Dynex and was able to use that successfully.

A family gift could take your entire Christmas budget or part of it so you can still celebrate but without the gifts under the tree.

Our son is only 6 so he wants to see something under the tree wrapped with his name on it.

Perhaps when he gets older and hopefully Covid-19 is under control we may take a family trip to Disney instead.

Family Secret Santa

Another way you can trim your Christmas expenses is by hosting a family secret Santa where you all pick a name and buy for that person.

That limits your Christmas gift expenses to buying one gift and far less stress.

Our son is still small and it’s just the three of us so we buy him something to read, a trampoline (family trampoline), and a Playstation 4 which he will be thrilled with.

We picked up the Playstation 4 for free at Shoppers Drug Mart during their massive points event.

The deal was cash in 250,000 Optimum points for $400 to spend in the store. WOW!

With almost 6 million Optimum points we had to swoop in and grab some Christmas goodies.

I did the math on our Optimum points and if we were able to spend them all with that bonus redemption we’d have almost $8500.

The gifts are from his aunts and us so we pooled our money together.

Celebrate Christmas After Boxing Day

If you’re looking to trim Christmas expenses this year there’s no harm in celebrating on Boxing Day or even the day after.

This gives you ample opportunity to scop out some deals in the stores and online that you can order.

The only catch with online shopping for Boxing Day Deals is might take a day or two to arrive.

Virtual Visits With Family

You guessed right if you thought that I would be on Skype with my family in the UK for Christmas.

The great part is the only Christmas expenses that I have to pay for is the internet and a computer or device with skype.

Since we already have all of that then we’re happy to see them on camera and they can watch our son open his Christmas gifts.

My parents don’t send gifts to Canada as you’ll learn in a few minutes down below.

Instead of putting money in my UK bank account like they always have, we told them to just use it for our nieces and nephews.

When we got married we used Skype so my family could be included in the wedding ceremony.

It’s amazing what you can do with technology today and when you’re living in a different country it’s a life-line.

What used to be phone calls (which I still do with a calling card) has become visual and that’s far more jolly than the big man himself.

Homemade Gifts

Christmas Basket

Some of the best gifts to give when you are trying to trim back Christmas expenses or show off your talents are homemade.

Besides baking, you can make Christmas Baking Jars or if you knit slippers, blankets, gloves, and hats are always a hit.

We have a friend who makes homemade scented candles, bath bombs, and bars of soap.

She buys baskets from Value Village throughout the year and fills them with small gifts she’s made and some treats.

At the Dollar store, there are so many Christmas gifts that are worthy of filling a Christmas hamper.

You can also buy the cellophane wrap at the Dollar store and some Christmas string to jolly up your baskets.

People appreciate homemade gifts as if you thought about what they would like instead of buying something they won’t use.

Perhaps you make homemade wine that you could pass along for the holidays.

It’s far cheaper to make wine than to buy it.

Skip The Christmas Cards and Gifts Abroad


Although sending Christmas cards is a nice gesture it can also be a costly Christmas expense you don’t need.

How many of you keep your Christmas cards? Do you read them?

A permanent stamp for Canada will cost you $1.07 to send the Christmas card plus the cost of the card.

For some, this may be part of your Christmas budget but for others perhaps an online email and family photo attached is cheaper.

Since my parents live in the UK we don’t bother with Christmas Cards but it costs more to mail the card than the card itself.

I know it may be the meaning that counts but what counts more are whether you have enough money to pay your bills.

Price To Send An Envelope Abroad

Red Post Box


Here’s an example of how much it costs just to send a package to the UK.

Yesterday Mrs. CBB put in a large yellow envelope a sweatshirt for her friend in the UK  with a Maple chocolate bar.

The cost of the gift was around $30 but the cost to ship by Air was $41.

Had we sent it by boat the gift would arrive in the UK in 2 to 3 months which was far beyond Christmas.

My tip is if you want to send gifts abroad send them very early by boat but you’ll pay for that.

Although we paid the $41 to ship by air we wanted her to have this for Christmas because she has helped our family so much.

She has been a wonderful listener through the rough years of my wife’s life and just a great friend.

Next time though, I might just pay my sister to do the shipping from the UK and just pay her the costs involved which will be far cheaper.

Canadian Budget Binder Fans Trim Christmas Expenses

decorated Christmas Tree

I asked my readers whether they would be downsizing Christmas expenses and what they might be.

Below are all of the answers and you will see a common trend of people are having to slim down the holiday season.

This year we will have our normal gathering of our 10 people. Budget cut backs on how much we spend on Christmas a few years ago. We have a new granddaughter this year so an extra person to buy for. Nancy

There will not be gathering this year. No staff party. The rest will not change.

However, we  never really did anything over the top anyway.

Decorations are done, keeping the Christmas lights on less to save a bit of money.

Presents for my son purchased months ago and wrapped. We haven’t done a big meal on Christmas Day in years and that will not change. H’ors d’oerves on Christmas Eve.

I guess the biggest change will not be going to mass, we are staying home.Angela

Normally we have a big Christmas eve dinner /get together but not this year.

It will be a quite family game night.

Will be finished shopping at 12:01 am when legos get released lol.

I’m super late this year. Will also be less baking since I’m not going to eat it all lol.Jaime

No Christmas in regards to gifts, cooking or decorating. I do have a wreath on my front door.The Christmas spirit is always there. Make the best of things.Linda

We started scaling back a few years ago – we only buy for the 3 littlest ones – and the adults play a game with a big ball of saran wrap with small gifts rolled up inside.

My sister and I save up things like gift cards, small items like chap sticks, keychains, etc.

We gather them up and make the big saran wrap ball and play “hot potato” with it- it’s hilarious.

I’m hoping the immediate family will still get together for our meal and to watch the girls unwrap their gifts.Mary

I made home made soaps jelly and scarf/hat sets for my relatives up north. Got gift cards for my business type people. I keep Christmas pretty small anyways. My son got a new to him washer dryer in August for Christmas. I’m taking his girlfriend grocery shopping at Aldi to fill their pantry as her gift. She a budding young cook. She’s really improved over the summer.Cynthia

Everything will change … no gifts, no special dinner, no family from outside the house – it will just be myself. Not even bothering to decorate this year.Nancy

I have scaled back a lot with every passing year. This maybe a last Christmas for a couple of family members which saddens me. I wish for just one more normal day but unfortunately I don’t see that happening any time soon. I am blessed to spend family time as the kids are growing way to fast. Next year will be different but I welcome new adventures. – Laura

No big family dinner this year on Christmas Day, just the 4 of us, my daughter’s boyfriend, and a Single friend. We will set up a zoom meeting with my husband’s sisters and parents so we can visit that way. Susan

Yes and no! Every year I plan to cut back. This year is a bomb as my 5 and 7 year old grand kids, who live with me, are not in school or preschool daycare, due to rising positive results with other kids around them.

We decided to keep them at home. So I have now heavily invested in nice art supplies and books, as early gifts, for them as they love to create crafts.

Usually they are at school creating there.. now I and home schooling, so more supplies needed. Also I am unable to run around looking for the best prices, unless its online. – Mary Anne

We usually do an outdoor activity then head to dinner. This year dinner will be the 2 of us at home. Maybe a virtual visit with family members.Pat

Because of Covid, we lost one month income. So I’m not doing any decorating nor gift giving. It’s going to be a really sad Christmas this year.Mona

I’ll still do my baking, and making gifts. Really hope my daughter and grandson can be here that day. Our bubble is very small at the best of times.Christine

Don’t really have much of a choice now do we?Sandra

There isn’t going to be much of the little stuff. The stocking stuffers may lack.Karen

We won’t be going on a family vacation or gifting one so ya its definitely not the same as usually. Will be more stuff than we are accustomed to but super excited and counting the days 🎅🎄🎁Angela

Everything will be the same this year maybe even a few extra special surprises in store for my granddaughters.They deserve after the year we have had. – Darlene

We will not be seeing any relatives so while cost of entertaining or pot lucking the big dinners will be gone, we will be paying to mail gifts to the nieces and nephews. I expect most of our Christmas expenses will end up similar to usual.Larrisa

Usually we to our timeshare condo in Cabo… obviously can’t do that this year. We have the Victoria location booked instead, but may just need to cancel that too, depending on the health orders by then.

In terms of spending being scaled back, yes, with no flights to buy! But we may just splurge on a Harbour Air float plane to get to Victoria instead of taking the ferry but only if we’re actually allowed to travel within B.C. Time will tell.-Dana

Yes but we never go overboard and always pay for and not charge the gifts we buy.

We just cut back a bit w/ Ed out of work again due to the Covid rules. Christmas isn’t about the gifts even tho I love giving them. Rice for my dinner tonight.Stacey

Unfortunately, we will not be traveling, there’ll be no baking, no special holiday meal either (just a regular dinner), no gifts, no evenings of entertainment out and the only splurges I am planning thru the season will using restaurant gift cards for some take-out goodies. Basically, December is a NO SPEND MONTH! 🙂Mary

I’m from a large family so we won’t be gathering for our Christmas, which normally would be before Christmas. We don’t do presents so that’s not changing. I only buy for few people regardless.Rhonda

I will not have anyone joining us for dinner. There is going to be a lot of trifle for just 3 people!

I will not be singing Midnight Mass with the choir and our St Stephen’s day celebration ( known as Chili Bingo) will not happen.- Cathlyne

We have to scale back. There will be no gatherings, no dinners, no gift exchanges andwe won’t be travelling to meet our newest grandson (born a week ago) or to see his sibs.

We bought a family gift this year instead of my husband and I buying for each other.

The tree will still go up this weekend but other than that.. there isn’t much christmas going on around here in the spirit of hope and light we look forward to next year.Donna

I said I was scaling back. And I did on my families gifts. But I have also taken on more people that don’t have gifts or food.

So it pretty much equals out. – Jennifer

Well, I’ll disgust everybody and say I finished my Christmas shopping on Nov. 26, slightly under budget and a few dollars less than last year.

However, I am going to spend a few dollars on outside Christmas decorations.

I haven’t put lights up in decades and now that I am retired and the house was repainted in the fall, I think it is about time.

I’d use the old outdoor light sets but you can’t buy light bulbs for them anymore.

At least the new ones won’t use as much electricity.Thad

Staying home not being with my family. But Christmas will still come. – Colleen

Discussion; How will you trim your Christmas expenses this holiday season?

Comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

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One Comment

  1. I budget every year for my christmas gifts to “away” children and grandchildren. I did it all via the computer, but sadly found I spent w a a y over my budgeted amount (it’s SO easy online to do this) plus all the postage etc ….. I will not be travelling to family this year, , so will spend christmas alone (a fire and a book) and visit them all via facetime. At 78 I am getting a bit frightened at the rising numbers of ill people and prefer to isolate as much as possible. ann

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