None of us like thinking about cutting down on costs, but especially during the holiday season, when we feel like celebrating the Christmas season as much as possible. Little do many people know that it’s simply wasteful to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on decorating, purchasing gifts, holding parties, and so on when you can have just as happy and festive a Christmas by following a few simple steps.

If you’re looking to save money on your Christmas celebrations while still having just as much fun and not looking cheap, these questions and answers can help you with every commonly-bemoaned aspect of Christmas, all of which can add up quickly to a big hit to your bank account.

1. How can I save money on Christmas decorations and still make my place look festive?

First of all, this is one area where individual tastes will vary widely. Some people aren’t happy unless they have new decorations every year, while others prefer the familiar, classic mix of decorations that are souvenirs, their grown-up kids’ old crafts, thrift store bargains, and more.

The best step to take to save money on Christmas decorations is to choose those which you can reuse year after year. The initial investment can be done slowly as you spend a bit of money on decorations every year and build your collection of holiday decorations over the years. Furthermore, you won’t have to get a whole new set of decorations every year.

If you don’t already have an established collection of decorations and ornaments, try to start slowly. You don’t have to immediately have your place look like a Christmas wonderland. It will be more meaningful if you work up to this point and collect decorations that mean a lot to you over time, and Christmas is about the meaning, after all.

Decorations generally fall into one of three categories: Christmas tree decorations, other inside decorations, and outside decorations. If you live in an apartment or your house has a low ceiling, you can probably eliminate one or two of these categories immediately. Decide which to prioritize, or focus on one “category” at a time, whichever you prefer.

You can get cheap Christmas decorations from discount stores, online (try eBay and Kijiji, particularly after the holiday season when others are getting rid of their stuff), throughout the year at garage sales, or at thrift stores. Value Village and certain religious groups run thrift stores for people who need inexpensive decorations, and local thrift stores are often even cheaper.

2. How can I save money on gifts for my kids, friends, and family?

You should first examine your current spending on your gifts. Do you usually buy several expensive presents for each person? One well-chosen gift for each person is often enough, or a few less expensive gifts.

Particularly for kids, who can often outgrow or lose interest in a toy quickly, two or three less expensive gifts are often valued more than one expensive gift that could easily be wrecked or forgotten within a week. Check with the parents, if they’re not your kids, or figure out what they really want for Christmas to avoid getting them something they really don’t want or need.

With adult friends and family members, arrange dollar limits on your spending. For instance, you might agree with everyone to not purchase gifts worth more than $20 or $50, so you aren’t caught in an awkward cycle of hoping you don’t spend too much or under-spending, then over-compensating on the next gift-giving occasion. Everyone will feel less awkward and save money at the same time.

3. How do I keep my costs down when holding Christmas parties?

Many people feel obligated to hold a neighborhood, workplace, family, or friend Christmas party… sometimes all four of these in one year. The costs can add up quickly if you don’t watch out. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the amount of money you’re spending when you’re a gracious host all the time.

First, getting a clear estimate of who is coming and who isn’t will help you ensure you don’t buy or bake too much, saving money upfront. Be sure to emphasize to people that you won’t be offended if they turn your invitation down, so long as they do so in advance so you know.

Many people buy pre-made trays of food to provide trays of meats, cheeses or veggies, but try doing a little research to see if it will be cheaper to make up such trays yourself. You might even consider baking cookies yourself from scratch so you can save money on less healthy and less tasty pre-made or package mixes.

You can also get people to bring appetizers and snacks – enough for the number of people they are bringing, plus a few extras. Then nobody has to worry about buying or making food for dozens or hundreds of people. It can even be a bag of chips or pre-made fruit tray if they don’t have time to make anything on their own, as long as they bring something.

Finally, try to serve beverages that aren’t overly expensive. Cans of frozen fruit juice, water, or pop are often less expensive than serving vast amounts of alcohol, and healthier, too. You don’t need alcohol to have a good time.

4. How can I arrange with other people to save money on the holiday season?

If you get started in advance and get together with your friends or family to arrange this, you can save a lot of money through arranging a Christmas gift circle or a Secret Santa swap.

For a Christmas gift circle, you each purchase a present of a previously determined value, and perhaps according to a certain theme, that people of any age and gender will enjoy. Then, at the party, you each draw a number. In order of numbers, each person can choose a “new” present from the table or “steal” someone else’s gift. You aren’t allowed to take back a gift immediately once it’s taken from you, but if you take another present (from the table or someone else) that gets stolen, you can go and reclaim your original present. It’s a lot of fun if everyone remembers to keep a laid-back attitude and laugh.

Alternatively, Secret Santa involves mixing up the names of people so each person gets the name of someone else to buy a present for. You don’t know who is shopping for you, and your “target” shouldn’t know you’re shopping for them, either. This can be just as fun, and allows you to put some personalized thought into what you purchase.

Saving money in the Christmas holiday season doesn’t have to be a chore. If you take the right approach, you might even start to find it fun! As a bonus, you’ll have more money left over to enjoy the rest of your year, and if you don’t have that much money to start out with, you won’t feel deprived by using these tips.