I’m participating in the Spend-Less Holidays: Saving While Savoring the Season Blog Carnival, hosted by The Frugal Fil-Am and Dainty Mom. We’ll be sharing our tips on how to spend less this holiday season, so that we can have a more meaningful Christmas. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.

I love Christmas shopping, especially for my loved ones. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of giving someone a gift, watching their eyes light up, and seeing them grateful, even giddy over a well-chosen present. I have no qualms about spending for a really nice but pricey book, or a fabulous necktie for any of my loved ones. I even make an effort to ensure that my gift wrapping is unique and thoughtful, because I love making an impact when I give a gift. I want that gift to honor the recipient, to make them feel special and “thought about”, so to speak.

I never scrimp on my Christmas cookies. I use premium, unsalted butter, no substitutes, simply because it tastes SO much better!

And why not? When God gave us His Son — whose birth we celebrate during this time of year — He did not hold back on His goodness. Jesus was the perfect gift! But God the Father himself planned and paved the way for the birth of Christ, and in the same way, I like to think I plan and prepare intently to give gifts to my loved ones.

Here’s how I’ve been planning for the holidays, saving money on the side so that I can spend guilt-free on gifts for my loved ones.

1. Take on sideline jobs.

As a freelance writer, I take on a variety of jobs on a regular basis. Usually when the holidays hit, I take on short-term writing or social media jobs that help me earn a bit of extra income just for the holidays. It’s worked for me for the past two years that I’ve been doing it! I usually begin in September or October by applying for freelance jobs that have a quick turnover and delivery time. Usually, it’s blogging or writing for another website, which can get me between $25-$50 (Php1000-2000) per article. Not bad! I then set aside that money in my PayPal account. When it hits my target budget for the holidays, I withdraw it to my bank account, and I have a working budget just for Christmas presents. Yay!

2. Sell stuff throughout the year.

You can sell anything to make some extra holiday cash. You can bake, make handmade items, or even sell items on consignment and earn a profit from the sales. For me, what works is selling pre-owned items that are still in good shape and quality. For example: When Vito outgrew most of his baby shoes (and I had no nephews his age to pass them down to), I sold them as “pre-loved” items on my Facebook page. I probably earned around $75/Php3000 all in all, from selling 5-6 pairs of infant shoes. Another time, I sold my seldom-used teachers manuals — 12 of them! — online, and made an extra $50/Php1800. These small earnings were kept in my “holiday fund” for gifts and Christmas decorations.

3. Plan household expenses according to discounted items.

You’d be surprised at how much you can save by buying promo items at the grocery store. Shops here in Manila usually hand out booklets with their marked-down, promo items for the month. You can put these to good use by collecting them, seeing which supermarkets offer the best deals for a certain product. I’ve done this from time to time, planning my shopping trips around these deals, and even drawing up a monthly meal plan according to the items that are marked down for the month. If you decide to do this, put whatever money you save from shopping according to the deals in your holiday fund.

What are your tips for saving up so you can spend on the holidays?

Check out the rest of our Spend-Less Christmas Carnival participants!