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Between gifts, travel and entertaining, your holiday tab can add up quickly—especially if you’re on a tight budget. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans planned to spend an average of nearly $806 last holiday season. These five tips for reducing holiday spending can help you stay within your budget while keeping your holidays merry and bright.

1. Shop Early

You’re more likely to overspend if you wait until the last minute to shop. Instead, plan ahead. Take advantage of the season-end clearance sales and Thanksgiving grocery specials that run long before Black Friday. You can stock up your freezer with turkey and ham, your pantry with paper goods and canned goods, and check “holiday menu” off your to-do list early.

2. Think in Multiples

Find one solid D.I.Y. idea from Pinterest to take care of a multitude of people: Teachers, the mail carrier, party hosts, etc. For example, buy candy or nuts in bulk and divide them into festive treat bags you’ve decorated, and then tag with a personal note. Read more...▼

3. Look for Discounts and Specials

Any time you shop online, always pause before clicking the “place order” button to search for discounts and free shipping codes on such websites as RetailMeNot.com. For example, on Free Shipping Day on December 16, thousands of online retailers will offer free shipping, significantly reducing your postage costs. (Another way to save on postage: Send e-cards instead of mailing your holiday cards.)

Tip
Want to make this holiday more meaningful for you and yours? Head to the Allstate blog to learn how.
4. Prepare a Picture-Perfect Gift

In this digital age, it’s easy to snap hundreds of photos, but only a few actually get shared on social media or elsewhere. Choose some of the best to make a precious—and inexpensive—gift. Photo prints can cost pennies; frames are only a few dollars. Or look for coupons for free or discounted photo books on photo-sharing or -storing sites.

5. Try a Gift Exchange

With large families, opt for creative gift exchanges in which you draw one name rather than buy everyone gifts. Think beyond the familiar “white elephant” exchange of regifting your ugliest item. Issue a “dollar-store challenge” to see who can find the most creative gift for $1. Or try the “shopping sprint,” in which everyone hits the mall together and has one hour to buy a $10 gift for their recipients. These exchanges shift the focus from the gift itself to the laughter and fun time shared together.