Finding ways to create a magical Christmas for kids on a tight budget does not have to be a challenge. All it takes is a little bit of creativity.

Things are a bit tight in my home this year for the Holidays. My husband lost his job earlier this year and our money has been tied up trying to get things back on track. With Christmas just around the corner, the expense that lies ahead started to create a huge burden on my shoulders. I could see how it started to nag at me, causing worry and stress. This burden was bringing a bad attitude into my home, and it was all starting with me. After I had a little chat with myself, I decided to keep the bad attitude away, put a smile on my face and figure out a plan. Christmas was coming, and it was up to me to make it magical for my kids regardless of the lack of funds. So, I figured out how to create a magical Christmas for kids on a tight budget.

Christmas Decorations

If you are anything like me you probably already have Christmas decorations tucked away inside of boxes and bins just waiting to be used. Bring them all out and start decking the halls. If you do not have any decorations at home there are a few different ways you can get some. Ask friends and family for any decorations they may have lying around the house that they want to get rid of. Look in the thrift stores and second hand stores for any gently used decorations. The dollar store is a great place to get some really incredible decorations so start there first. Even $5 can go a long way. You can also have the kids help you make paper garlands to hang or even snowflakes to help deck the halls.

Christmas Tree

These trees can get so pricey. I try to find a Christmas tree lot that offers one price for any tree on the lot. I have found that if you give the tree lot a little heart to heart, they will spread Christmas joy to you with a little discount. Where I live, state of Idaho, you can cut your own tree down in the forest with a permit that costs only $10! Make sure you look into any permit requirements before you cut one down.


Holiday dishes and meals can bring on a huge extra expense. If you have a family event to attend on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, take advantage of the invite and attend. That way, you can avoid the entire Holiday meal expense. If you do not have any events to attend, you should make a meal plan, price shop, clip coupons, and buy generic. All of those 3 things combined can really help save on unnecessary expenses. And if you need to, visit a self help pantry at a church or local organization. There are people out there to help get food on the table, all it takes is a little bit of research on your end. Be grateful there are resources out there and remember that it is okay to use them if you need them.


If money is tight, your list of people that receive gifts from you should be a short one. Concentrate on the ones closest to you, the ones who you see open their gifts on Christmas morning. Most likely this list will include your kids, possibly your spouse, and parents. Keep it simple. Make a craft, hunt for deals and discounts, and search the thrift stores.

  • When my oldest son was small, I was scouring the ads on a local FB group and saw a rusty tricycle for just $5. It was a brand name trike that had been left out in the rain one too many times, but it was still very sturdy. I got the price reduced to $3, and took home my pile of rust. My husband was able to make the tricycle brand new with a little sandpaper, spray paint, and TLC. My son was so excited when he found it sitting under the tree on Christmas morning, no one could have imagined the condition of that trike just a few weeks ago. This trike, has lasted through all 3 of my kids. Best deal ever. All I needed to find this deal was a little creativity and open mind.
  • One of my favorite gifts to give my kids is the gift of an experience. Make a coupon book with things like movie night, game night, trip to the park, or a scavenger hunt. Spending time with your kids is the best present you could give them.
  • Another great trick I learned is that if someone asks what you would like for Christmas, ask them nicely to get your kids a gift instead. It is usually more exciting for people to gift to children versus adults anyways.
  • If you are a crafter, check out these Homemade Gifts to Make for Kids, it should give you some ideas and you might just get away with using up supplies that are sitting around the house. Making cards has become a tradition in my home. Kids always love receiving something homemade, especially from their parents and siblings.
  • Enter giveaways and sweepstakes. OMG Goodies offers some great sweeps. You have a little more of a chance to win products from them since the site is a bit of a secret. I am sure that will change as more people discover this little gem, but for now, take advantage of the low entries.


Even if your budget is slim, you should always find a way to give back. The old saying, “Giving is better than receiving” is so true. Every time I give, whether it is a large gift, homemade gift, or even a few quarters into a collection jar it makes me feel so good inside. Teach your kids the meaning of giving too. Have them fill up someone else’s bucket by writing a card to a veteran or soldier. They could even make a card for a sick child in the hospital. You could also have your kids make gifts for their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This article, 10 DIY Craft Ideas To Make Your Kid’s Grandparents Melt, is full of great gift ideas to make.


Baking during the Holidays is a must. Yes, it can get messy, and yes, it can get expensive too. But there are ways to budget expenses for baking. Start with coupons, and keep an eye on local store sales. If you have Amazon Prime, there are usually a lot of coupons available in their Prime Pantry section for baking goods. You can also make simple recipes that do not call for a lot of different ingredients. Use my Red Velvet Cookie Recipe that uses cake mix to make a very affordable and delicious cookie. Yes, they are Valentine themed cookie, but you can easily make them for Christmas cookies. Baking and gifting your creations is also a wonderful idea.

Little Things

Take advantage of the little things to bring the magic out everyday leading up to Christmas. Spending time together, is really where the magic begins for Christmas.

How do you create a magical Christmas for kids on a tight budget? Share your ideas with us!