If there’s one time of the year when you want to be frugal but look lush, it’s at the holidays. With so many people on my Christmas list, it’s the perfect time to get creative with my gift buying so I can stay within my budget.

This is where bartering comes in.

While there are lots of alternative currency / bartering sites out there, I honestly can’t be bothered taking the time to learn the ins-and-outs of the currencies, signing up for the various accounts, etc.

Instead, I use the stripped-down, old-fashioned version (i.e. sans the currency) to save a bit of money. For example, I have a fab friend who’s a Mama of two and had her children in the opposite order as mine – she had her boy first, and her girl second. This happens to work out amazingly well for swapping clothing. And, it’s not just a one-time thing; we continue to swap now that our kids are school-aged. Do you know how much money that saves? LOTS!  This savings occurs all-year-round, but there are lots of things you can do at the holidays to save even more.

Here are some of my bartering tips to help you keep your holiday budget under control…

  • Ask the parents in your circle(s) of friends if they have any re-gift items that they’d be interested in swapping. Occasionally, we all get duplicate gifts or items that don’t really appeal to us, so instead of having them take up space in our homes, why not swap them for items we’d rather have instead? I have a habit of stocking up on toys when I go to Winners and, invariably, a few of the items end up lounging around my “gift bins” for longer than expected, and may not suit either of my children’s age groups. So, instead of wasting them, I swap. Tip: make it fun by hosting a gift-swapping party. Throw in some snacks and drinks and you’re set!
  • Swap babysitting duty with another parent so you can get holiday shopping done in peace. Don’t underestimate how much time (in addition to money) this will save you. Not only do you forgo the babysitter’s fee, but you will get your shopping done so much more quickly, leaving time to bake those cookies you wanted to make!!
  • If you are a small-business owner or have in-demand skills that you could swap with others (book-keeping, graphic design, baking, etc.) check out local service swap groups (Swapsity looks pretty cool, but you can also search Google to find others in your area) or start your own with your friends and neighbours. It’s not only a fantastic way to save money and live greener, but you’ll get to know new people in your community, too!

If you have any other ideas for how to save money at the holidays, please comment below or on our social media pages. We’d love to share them with all the other parents out there!

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