Here's something we can all agree on this Christmas: we need to stretch our dollars as much as elvishly possible. But not just to get the most stuff for our money. We need to get the most Christmas we can out of that spend.
After all, we might drop big dollars and get little Christmas cheer out of it, which is somewhat tragic. If you've ever given a child a gift and found they got more enjoyment out of the box than the toy, you'll know what I mean. And I continue to marvel how gran's gifts, many of which were bought second-hand, delivered so much more delight than the ones I got brand new at full price.
Something else we can agree on is a dollar limit for gifts and secret Santas, which can work really well for families and even workplaces. You end up lifting the levels of joy without spending heaps and having to buy for absolutely everyone.
And low dollar amounts can nurture creativity: my favourite gift so far this year was when my sister-in-law gave her hubby a set of elegant wine glasses... complete with a voucher for lifetime washing! (Apparently he is a bit accident prone when it comes to washing stemware.)
For more money ideas so you get the most bang out of those Christmas crackers, here are 12 tips:
1. Make a list, check it twice! Sticking to a checklist really ticks all the boxes for keeping spending on track.
2. Pay in cash. It's nice to start the new year without a giant credit card bill, if you can manage it.
3. Agree on a dollar limit for gifts. And if you each pick names out of a hat, everyone can focus their gift-giving without spending a fortune.
4. Even Santa has a budget. The kids need to get this message early on.
5. Comparison shop 'til you drop. Get the best deal possible by researching prices online.
6. Stay home, shop online. Lots can be found for less on the internet, but make sure to include shipping costs as you compare.
7. Op-shopping rules. Stretch those dollars by thrift shopping for bargains on unique or vintage gifts.
8. Skip shopping for yourself. Wait until Boxing Day and score fantastic bargains then.
9. Redeem points on your reward cards for vouchers or gifts. Every little bit helps ease the holiday budget!
10. Try DIY. Get the kids involved too, whether it's baking, crafting or knitting.
11. Give homemade vouchers. These can be for babysitting, gardening, painting the deck, cleaning the boat or anything else.
12. Start saving early for next year. Once we've made it through this Christmas, look towards the next and spread the costs!