Cheap Christmas that feels Expensive

How to Have a Cheap Christmas that feels Expensive

Finance Sarah's Thoughts

This Christmas is really special and exciting for me this year. It’s the very first Christmas since losing my dad in 2006, that I’m looking forward to. Life is amazing sometimes. In celebration of this milestone, I want to go all out- with the tree, the decorations, food, and gifts! But anyone who knows me, knows I can be a bit of Scrooge with my money. Soooo, here’s how I plan to have a diamond Christmas, on a denim budget (aka, a cheap Christmas that feels expensive). 🙂


The Christmas Tree

Okay look, I’m no hippie, but when I have the chance to make a green decision, I feel obligated to take it (I have a ’96 diesel for a daily driver okay). Plastic Christmas trees are not good for the environment. You’d have to use your artificial tree for over 20 years before it began to be “greener” than the real deal. The reason why is that live trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, while growing, and once cut down, are replaced with a new sapling. They allow people with otherwise useless soil to grow a meaningful crop, rather than selling out to land developers. On top of all that, artificial trees are typically made of PVC, which isn’t recyclable.

What about the costs though? The price range of Christmas trees (both natural and artificial) is all over the place. If you want a really high quality tree, you’re going to pay more either way you go. The artificial tree has a greater up front cost, but lasts longer. The natural tree has a much lower up front cost, but it’s only for a season. If you’re rolling on a tight budget though, the natural Christmas tree is the better option for you, they start out as low as $15 / tree!


The Ornaments

DIY for the win! Here are the ornaments I’ll be putting on my tree this year:

This adorably rustic pinecone on a bow, by Make It Love It

These gorgeous dollar store up-cycled fabric ornaments, by Shanty 2 Chic

This unique tactical ornament that reflects my husband’s passion, originally created by A Thrifty Mom.

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This simple, $3 tree “skirt” by The Crazy Craft Lady.

And this gorgeous burlap garland, also by The Crazy Craft Lady.

Though you can’t DIY the lighting (I can’t, maybe you can!) here are 100 lights for less than $8. A good rule is that you need 100 lights per foot of tree, so the majority of us can get by with less than $50 of lights.


The Home Decor

Apothecary Glass Jars filled with Christmas Candies and Ornaments

Tiny Pine Cone Christmas Trees by Scissors and Spoons

Pine Cone Wreath by Remodelaholic

Pine Cones Christmas Tree by HGTV

“Taking the Tree Home” mason jar winter scene by Mason Jar Crafts Love

Gift Wrapped Door by Naptime Decorator



For Children

  • Buy children’s (non fabric / non plush!) toys from consignment shops and secondhand stores like goodwill. Clean them up well and package them pretty. Your kids are not going to mind that there isn’t a difficult manufacturers box to break into.
  • Skip toys altogether! If your kid is always talking about giraffes, get an annual pass to the zoo. Or an aquarium pass. Or get a national parks pass. How many times do children get gifts, only to play with them Christmas morning, and then totally forget them?

For Adults

  • If you’re buying electronics, consider purchasing refurbished or used off eBay.
  • If you have a credit card with rewards, use the card for shopping, and cash in on those rewards if possible.
  • Use those coupons and sales! The reason why I’m sharing this post with you now before Thanksgiving is because you need to plan ahead as much as possible. If you haven’t discovered her already, go see the Krazy Koupon Lady! And use rewards cards and programs at all places you shop that offer them. If you want a cheap Christmas that feels expensive, coupons are a fantastic way to do that.
  • Make homemade gifts. No, macaroni necklaces- but candies and foods. One of my absolute favorite gifts I get is from my neighbor. She sends everyone a thoughtful Christmas card, and inside, she has a menu of 30 favorite foods and tells you to pick two meals for her to fix you, whenever you’d like. Mrs. Smith could easily give Paula Deen and Gordon Ramsey a run for their money too, which certainly helps.
  • If you’re into MLM sales, give some of that product to your friends and family. Free high quality skincare and smell good oils are always welcomed as a gift by me!
  • If you’ve got a friend who doesn’t yet have any subscriptions such as Netflix, Hulu, or Sirius XM, consider buying them a year’s worth. That’s one of those gifts that’s only about $100 when you give it, yet feels like a whole lot more when you receive it.
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Save and Earn Money in other Areas

  • Cut, print, and find online coupons on your normal purchases. Get toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, dental floss, body wash, razors, shampoo, hair styling products, deodorant, and feminine products for free when you use your coupons appropriately.
  • Sell old items you no longer use, like clothing, exercise equipment, toys, and electronics. Tell your children that Santa needs help with toys this year, and their contribution will really help him out.
  • Do some of these at home side hustles that I tried and tested. Or, start one of these small businesses that don’t have any start up costs!
  • Have a no spend week. Make meals using all the ingredients you have pushed in the back of your pantry, or try my meal plan that only costs $2.52 per person per day.
  • Don’t go out to eat until after Christmas. Eat before you do your holiday shopping so that you’re not tempted to stop at Chick-fil-A after your run to the Mall (not that I’m speaking from guilty experience here).
  • Drop your cable, Hulu, and / or Netflix and give digital antenna television a try. The channels come in shockingly clear believe it or not.
  • Use or sell last years Christmas gift cards. If you have a gift card for JCPenny but you never shop there, try to get someone else’s gift there now. If not, sell it online for a discount at or

Christmas Spirit

Now is the time to do all the fun and free (or really cheap) stuff that your town offers. If you have children, this is a fantastic way to have a cheap Christmas that feels expensive, fun, and magical.

  • Go watch a Christmas Parade
  • Watch the Hallmark Christmas Movies (here’s the complete schedule!)
  • Drive through the country, or walk through town, and look at Christmas lights
  • Attend Christmas themed church services
  • Make your house smell really good using this amazing homemade potpourri, and play some old fashioned board games like it’s the 90s again. Balderdash is fun if you’d just give it a chance!
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Let’s Talk!

– What are your go-to hacks to make your cheap Christmas that feels expensive?

– What are your favorite types of gifts to receive? 

– Are you subscribed to Diamonds N’ Denim? I’m sending out my very first newsletter on Friday, join the mailing list (down in the footer of this post) before then so you don’t miss out on any inside info!

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As always, thank you for stopping by!


Cheap Christmas that feels Expensive



Cheap Christmas that feels Expensive

10 thoughts on “How to Have a Cheap Christmas that feels Expensive”

  1. This is beyond henius. My fav is definitely the burlap tree skirt and the candy cane jars! Thank you for this – I’m totally replicating some of these at home!!

  2. This is super helpful! I’m deathly afraid of the real Christmas trees because of all the critters lurking around in South Florida.

  3. This is gonna sound odd, but this year I used a huge discount on the PocketPoints app to help purchase my dad’s Christmas gift! I got 60% off Pacers tickets, so I could afford to get more than just nosebleed seats!

  4. Great post, and it comes right at a time where I’m starting the christmas shopping for my decor. I really like the Dollar store idea and would like to implement some of these methods to save me money this year. Thanks for sharing!

  5. These are all really great ideas for a budget friendly Christmas. I think a lot of people overlook some really great items that are available at their local dollar stores. As you’ve shown these things can be converted into something very high end looking and create a beautiful holiday designs.

  6. Thank you for this…I also lost my dad in 2006 and have not had a good christmas since. Just couldn’t feel it. I made a decision to make a special Christmas this year and I like your spirit. Great ideas!

    1. It does get easier, not in the way you expect, but Holidays do get better. I hope this can finally be the year you find your joy once again. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story, it’s good to know you’re not on this journey alone. <3

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