How To Save Money During The Holidays (20+ Ways To Save & Make Money!)

Want to learn how to save money during the holidays? It’s the holiday season, so you know what that means! It’s time to think about holiday gifts, holiday parties, and holiday food galore! It’s also time to get serious about gift shopping and party planning. Maybe you even have some holiday travel planned to see…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: November 19, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Want to learn how to save money during the holidays?

It’s the holiday season, so you know what that means! It’s time to think about holiday gifts, holiday parties, and holiday food galore!How To Save Money During The Holidays

It’s also time to get serious about gift shopping and party planning. Maybe you even have some holiday travel planned to see your loved ones.

While there’s a lot of excitement during the holiday season, spending money on extra treats, decorations, and entertaining can add up fast.

The average person spends around $1,000 on gifts during the holiday season. Plus, you still have other costs such as travel, events, decorations, and more.

Because the holidays can be so expensive, today I want to teach you how to save money during the holidays! I’m going to share ideas for keeping your holiday spending to a minimum without scrimping on the holiday cheer. I will also be talking about different ways to make extra money during the holidays – there are so many ways to do it!

I’m covering both holiday spending tips and making money because that’s the best approach if you want to learn how to save money during the holidays.

After all, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year (at least it should be). But it can add a lot of stress if you aren’t financially prepared to spend extra money on gifts, traveling, and entertaining.

Fortunately, there are ways to save money during the holidays that will bring you peace of mind and holiday cheer.

How to save money during the holidays


1. Start with a holiday budget

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, the very first thing to do is to make a holiday budget and think about how much money you can realistically spend this year.

I recommend seeing how much money you already have set aside for the holidays, analyze how much you think you will spend, and figure out what you need to do so that you don’t go over your holiday shopping budget. This is an excellent first step if you want to learn how to save on your Christmas shopping list (or any other gift-giving holiday).

Some of the things you should think about are:

  • Holiday gifts
  • Transportation and travel costs
  • Food for potlucks, parties, and get togethers
  • Postage and mailing gifts, holiday cards, etc.
  • Gift wrapping supplies
  • Decorations, such as ornaments, a Christmas tree, holiday lights on your home, etc.

Thinking about all of the items that you want to spend money on this holiday season will help you to create a more realistic budget.


2. Give fewer gifts

By giving fewer gifts this year, you may be able to save money and time. Think about how much time and money it takes you to find each gift – where is a better place for that energy?

If you’re running low on time or money, or even if you just want to try something different, you may just want to give one gift to each person. 

Remember, the holidays are not about the gifts. It’s the thought that counts, not the gift or the amount of gifts that you give.


3. Scan your grocery receipts with Fetch Rewards

Fetch Rewards is a cash back and gift card cell phone app that rewards you for purchases that you’ve already made.

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, this is one of the easiest ways!

With Fetch Rewards, you earn points by submitting your receipts to the Fetch Rewards app from any grocery store, clothing store, restaurant, gas station, and more.

Then, you redeem your points for gift cards (to places such as Target or Amazon) and other rewards. You can then also use these gift cards to put towards your holiday gifts.

All you have to do is take a picture of your receipt with your cell phone, and you can easily earn points.

Here’s how Fetch Rewards works:

  1. Shop like you normally would
  2. Scan your receipt after you’re done
  3. Earn points on Fetch Rewards

You can sign up for Fetch Rewards here.


4. Get cash back when you shop

Rakuten is one of the best cash back websites, and it allows you to earn free money for spending how you normally would online. Whether you have Christmas gifts or other holiday gifts that you need to buy, Rakuten allows you to earn cash back.

All you do is click on a store that you want to shop through (they have tons of stores such as Target, REI, Walmart, Old Navy, Nike, etc.) and shop just like how you normally would shop online.

Rakuten makes a commission for referring you to the store you just shopped at, and they give you some of that money back as a reward.

Plus, when you sign up through my link, you receive a free $30 cash sign-up bonus.


5. Cut back your on your spending

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I stop overspending during the holidays?”, you may have to address your daily spending first.

This may mean canceling certain things now and resuming them in a few months time. Perhaps you completely get rid of the expense and save your money for months and years to come.

Some ways to cut back on your spending to learn how to save money during the holidays include:

  • Cut back on your restaurant spending
  • Find alternatives to expensive cable TV
  • Change your cell phone plan to something more affordable
  • Shop around for a lower car insurance monthly/annual payment
  • Cancel your gym membership
  • See what monthly subscriptions you can get rid of, at least for the time being

Wondering How can I save money for Christmas all year?” – Learn more at 50+ Best Frugal Tips to Try.


how to save money during the holidays

6. Do Secret Santa

To give fewer gifts this holiday season, one way is to start a Secret Santa.

This is where you only give one gift to just one person. Everyone draws a name and keeps it a secret.

You could even do a themed Secret Santa, such as games, movie night, travel, and so on.

This is something that we usually do with my husband’s family. The younger children still get gifts from everyone, but all of the adults simply do a Secret Santa exchange. It makes it much easier and more enjoyable!


7. Shop for the holidays as soon as you can

Do you wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to start your holiday shopping?

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, you may want to rethink that. While you can occasionally score a good deal, the earlier you start your holiday shopping, then the more money you may be able to save.

After all, when a person is low on time and is feeling rushed to find a holiday gift, they are more likely to spend more money because they don’t have the time to find a good deal.

Related money-saving tip: I highly recommend signing up for a FREE, 30-day Amazon Prime account, to save money on holiday shopping. This free, 30-day account gives you unlimited FREE, two-day shipping, you can borrow Kindle books, watch movies and TV episodes, and more.


8. Use credit card rewards for cheap holiday travel

Do you use travel rewards credit cards? If you trust yourself to use credit cards safely, this can be a great way to get free hotel rooms or free airplane tickets so that you can learn how to save money during the holidays on travel expenses.

Some of my favorite rewards cards include:

You can learn more at Best Rewards Credit Cards.


9. Save on gift wrapping

Wrapping paper can easily add up and cost you more than you would think. There are many ways to save money on wrapping paper such as:

  • Reusing gift wrapping paper from previous occasions.
  • Putting a gift in a gift. For example, if you are gifting something, you could wrap it in a nice blanket that you are also gifting to them.


10. Buy second hand

Doing your holiday shopping at thrift and second hand stores is a great idea if you want to learn how to save money during the holidays. There are so many great finds at thrift stores these days, and you can find clothes, books, toys, accessories, home decor, and so much more.

If you feel nervous about buying used items for your friends and family, remember that it’s the thought that counts. 

Plus, so many more people are comfortable using second hand items because it’s good for your wallet and the environment.


11. Celebrate with an experience

We all have so much stuff, and a lot of that stuff we’ll never use. So why add to the clutter this holiday season?

This year, decide to give experiences to your loved ones instead of stuff. Experiences don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. You can go ice skating, take a cooking class, go camping, have a picnic, have a movie night, etc.

When you give an experience, you are giving your time, energy, and thought. For many people, this kind of gift is bigger than any kind of physical stuff.


12. Donate to a charity

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays and do something that feels good, donating to a charity is the perfect gift. It doesn’t have to be money either – you can donate your time!

Think about what your loved ones care about. Do they care about the environment, animals, children’s charities, etc.? Find a charity that matches their interests and you can donate your money or time. 

Getting together with your family to volunteer at a soup kitchen or making care packages with a group of friends – these are all great ways to show you care and make an impact.


13. Give your time

Several ideas on this list involve giving your time because that’s the most precious thing we have to give. 

Think about how you can make time for your kids, best friend, partner, siblings, etc. We are all so busy these days, and something simple like grabbing coffee or going for a walk goes a long way. 


14. Find free holiday activities

Many cities have fun, free activities planned all throughout the holiday season, and this is a great idea if you want to learn how to save money during the holidays. 

You can look online at your city’s events calendar and follow your favorite businesses on social media to find out what’s going on. For example, our city has a free tree lighting ceremony and dog parade. 

Planning to go to some of these events with your friends and family is a great way to make holiday plans that fit with your budget. 


15. Don’t overextend yourself

The holidays are supposed to be enjoyable, but they can quickly become stressful if you plan too much.

Really think about how much time, energy, and money you have. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to go above and beyond, but only do what you want and are capable of doing.


16. Remember, it’s okay to cut ties

The holidays can be difficult if you have strained relationships with some family and friends. Sometimes we buy presents and make time for people who don’t prioritize use, but it’s okay to cut those ties. You have to take care of yourself and the people who make you feel good.

When it comes to learning how to save money during the holidays, this is a difficult tip to hear, but it’s the truth.


17. Make cards

So many people send fancy holiday photo cards, and while they are fun to get, they’re expensive to send. Making your own cards could be a more affordable alternative. Spending an afternoon making cards with your kids could be a really fun activity. 


18. Give handmade gifts

Even if you aren’t a crafty person, you can learn how to save money during the holidays by making gifts. Some ideas are:

  • Cookies
  • Baking and soup mixes
  • Photo magnets
  • Bath bombs and sugar scrubs
  • Candles

Those are just a few ideas of affordable handmade gifts you can give this year.


how to save money during the holidays

19. Return unwanted gifts

There is a chance you will get something you don’t want this holiday season, and it’s okay to return any of those unwanted gifts. Keep any gift receipts you’re given and return those gifts. 

You can use the money to buy something you actually want, or you can use the money for something else. Once the gift is given to you, you can do whatever you want with it.


Find ways to make additional holiday spending cash

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, you may also want to learn how to make money for the holidays. 

This can make the holiday season a little more enjoyable as you won’t have to go into debt or use your savings for your holiday spending.

Ways to make extra money during the holidays includes:


1. Find a seasonal holiday job

The holidays are extremely busy for many businesses around the world, which means that most of them are looking for seasonal help to get them through their busy months.

According to CNN Business, here are just a few companies that were hiring last year to give you an idea:

  • UPS was hiring 100,000 part-time and full-time seasonal workers
  • The US Postal Service was bringing on an additional 40,000 workers
  • Michaels was hiring 20,000 workers
  • was hiring more than 10,000 holidays workers to deliver food and gifts

And the list goes on and on. If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, making money with a seasonal job is one of the fastest options.


2. Make quick cash selling things

If you are wanting to make extra money this holiday season, then one easy way is to find items around your home to sell.

We all have extra things in our homes that we can sell. This may include things like clothing, an old cell phone, a textbook, and so on.

You may be able to sell your old stuff to:

  • Thrift stores– Some may pay on consignment, cash on the spot, or store credit. Taking your stuff to a thrift store will probably be the fastest way to sell things as they will likely offer you cash for whatever they can sell, but you may not be able to make the most amount of money as you would on something such as eBay.
  • Craigslist– Selling on this free site can be one of the easiest ways to make money fast for the holidays.
  • Yard sale– This can be an easy way to sell a lot of things at once, plus you can do it all from your home. A downside is that the pay is usually lower.
  • Facebook– There are specific groups on Facebook dedicated to selling items in your area. Facebook makes it so easy to sell things you no longer want.
  • eBay– This online auction site can be a great way to reach a larger market.


3. Walk dogs or pet sit

During the holidays, many people tend to travel. If you love pets, then this is where you come in.

You may be able to walk dogs or pet sit for others and earn money by doing so.

Other than Rover, you may be able to find pet watching gigs through Craigslist, Facebook, asking people you know, and more.


4. Get paid to share your thoughts

Taking surveys is one way to make extra money for the holidays, and it’s very easy work. What’s also great is that you can make money from surveys on the side of other options on this list.

The paid online survey sites I recommend signing up for include:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. Survey Junkie
  3. Swagbucks
  4. InboxDollars
  5. Branded Surveys
  6. Pinecone Research
  7. Prize Rebel
  8. User Interviews – This one pays $50 to $100 an hour for taking part in a focus group!

These survey companies are all free to join and free to use!


5. Find one-time gigs on Craigslist

Don’t want to get a second job or take on a side hustle this holiday season? One-time gigs may be a better option for you because you can find ones that work for your schedule.

One of the best things about one-time gigs is that you usually get paid right after you complete the work, which means this can be a quick way to make money the same day.

You can just simply go to Craigslist and find the “Gigs” section.

Here are some jobs I found through a quick search on Craigslist:

  • Remove yard debris
  • House cleaner
  • Restroom attendant
  • Moving big plants
  • Help towing a vehicle
  • Passing out flyers and brochures

During the winter, you will be able to find other one-time jobs such as clearing snow from someone’s driveway or sidewalk.


6. Become a house sitter

The holiday season means that people tend to travel more, and you may be able to find a house sitting gig.

As a house sitter, you may be taking in their mail (instead of letting it pile up in their mailbox or outside), keeping their plants alive, taking care of their pets, and more.

Most house sitters stay at their client’s house, but some may be asked just to check in occasionally.

Sometimes house sitters are paid – the going rate is around $25-$50 a day. Sometimes, you don’t get paid, though, and you may just be enjoying a nice place to stay in a new area.


7. Sell items on Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items, and it’s one of my favorite places to shop for holiday gifts.

More and more people are choosing to buy one-of-a-kind, handmade, and gifts from small businesses. This makes selling on Etsy a great idea if you’re creative.

You can sell homemade hats, holiday printables (such as gift tags or planners), custom mugs, prints or paintings, embroidered items, stickers, clothing, and so much more.

You can learn more at:


8. Get rewarded for being online

Swagbucks is a website where you can earn free gift cards and cash for the things you normally do online, such as shopping, searching the web, and taking surveys. 

If you want to learn how to save money during the holidays, shopping online with Swagbucks is a great idea because you can earn cash back on your holiday purchases.

Swagbucks gives out 7,000 free gift cards every day, and they have given out $747,475,927 in cash and free gift cards since they were created.

You can receive a free $5 bonus just for signing up right now.


How do I save this holiday season? In conclusion

I hope you enjoyed today’s article on how to save money during the holidays.

As you can see, there are many ways to save this holiday season, from saving money on your holiday shopping list, setting spending limits, to making extra money. These ideas will help you to watch your holiday expenses, while also still creating wonderful holiday traditions with your family.

There is no need to go broke for the holidays.

After all, holidays are about family and your loved ones, they are not about going into debt.

How much do you spend during the holidays? What do you do to save money during the holidays?

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Alaina Maier

    This is a great article! I just got back into blogging and stumbled upon yours as I was browsing some new blogs to read. Very well written and information I found very helpful. I look forward to reading more and learning from you some new ways to improve my financial situation. Thanks so much and keep up the blogging!

  2. great article, perfect for the period, great tips, thanks for sharing!!!