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Are the recent economic woes dampening your holiday spirit? You have a lot of company in that department! A recent CNN article noted that shoppers everywhere are feeling the pinch of the recession, which is in turn causing unnecessary mental anguish. However, cutting down on holiday spending doesn’t necessarily mean cutting down on your holiday fun.Here are some tips to have a fun and affordable holiday.

Create a Budget

A cheaper Christmas starts with a solid spending plan. Look over your finances, then decide how much you can afford to spend on Christmas. This includes gifts, food and decorations.

Make a Gift List

Create a list of all the people you plan to shop for. Then, set a spending limit for each person, and write down gift ideas before heading out to the stores.

Trim Down Your Gift List

Have more people on your gift list than you can afford to buy for? Then it’s time to give that list a trim. A shorter Christmas list is better than adding debt and stress to your life.

Start Early

Black Friday may be the official start to the Christmas shopping season, but it doesn’t have to be the start to yours. Start shopping for gifts as soon as you can afford to do so, and you’ll have more time to bargain-shop and feel less pressure to buy at any price.

Shop Secondhand

There’s no rule that says gifts have to be brand new. Scour thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets and other secondhand sources for gift-worthy items at prices well below retail. Just a few possibilities: unburned candles, antiques, collectibles, vintage jewelry and books. This can also be a really thoughtful move for your more eclectic friends.

Make It Yourself

Homemade gifts are every bit as nice as store-bought gifts, and sometimes nicer.

Don’t Shop for Yourself

All of those holiday deals make it easy to adopt a “one for me; one for you” mentality. To avoid overstuffing your own stocking, set a rule that you’ll only shop for the people on your list – and not yourself. I am so guilty of this one!!!

Skip the Christmas Cards

Consider skipping the Christmas cards this year, or at least trim your mailing list down to a more manageable size. If you have a tradition of sending family updates to your loved ones, consider sending it in the form of an e-card this year. It’s just as effective, and it’s also economical – you’ll save a ton of paper!

Skip the Pricey Gift Wrap

Wrapping paper has gotten to be so expensive. Head over to your local dollar store, there is a wide variety of Christmas paper and bags to choose from.

Decorate on the Cheap

Trees, lights and garland galore – use what you already have, swap decorations with friends, and make something new with your own hands. And if you’re the kind of person who would rather throw out your lights every year than untangle them at the beginning of the holidays, simply save the box they came in – if you store them in the same condition you bought them, they’re guaranteed to last you for years!

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