When I drive by a local shopping mall I can tell the chaos of the holiday shopping season has started before the famous "Black Friday" sales. Between credit cards allowing you to spend far more than is in your band and stores constantly bombarding shoppers with fresh sales it's too easy to go broke or worse, get into the kind debt that lasts long after all the holiday season is over. You can enjoy the holiday season without going broke if you follow these simple money saving strategies.
Spend cash. If you have to put something on a credit card because you don't have the money you can't afford it. If money is tight look for areas to cut your spending. For example, if you entertain over the holidays, have a cookie exchange or some other type of potluck occassion that encourages guest to provide food so all you have to provide is beverages.
Pay attention to how much you are buying when you shop. One of my greatest shopping weaknesses is Walmart. I go into Walmart looking for specific items, like a cheap throw blanket and suddenly I am buying sweat pants and other items that I didn't intend to buy. The good news is that because I am paying cash I don't buy all the stuff I am tempted to buy, only the stuff I have the money for.
Because every dollar counts, it makes sense to visit dollar stores for gift related items like Christmas cards, gift bags and tissue paper. You can also find holiday cards in unexpected places like discount stores such as Half Price Books.
Use what you have. Create holiday decorations out of items around your home. Make holiday displays using the holiday cards you receive, fill a clear bowl with ball shaped tree ornaments, and fill large clear jars with candy. If you have any baking skill you can bake up batches of home made cookies, put them in cheap containers like cookie tins to give out as gifts.
For more money saving ideas check out The Cheap Diva's Guide to Frugal and Fabulous Living: How to Shop Smart, Look Your Best, Decorate with Style, and Have Fun for Less Money!