From Thanksgiving to New Years, spending tends to hit a high. Gift shopping, Christmas cards, decorations and all of that rich food starts to add up to a substantial December bill. Even your electricity will probably go up with bright Christmas lights and space heaters. But these smart tips will help you save money this holiday season so that you don’t spend the entire new year paying it off.

1. Get Creative with Giving

Christmas brings extra spending on presents and parties. Find creative ways to give thoughtfully but not expensively. If you mom doesn’t understand downloading music to her iPod, then load it with new music she will enjoy. Volunteer to take your brother’s four children for a weekend to give his wife and him a short vacation. These clever and personal ideas might turn out to be some of the most useful and appreciated gifts you can give. Some wonderful ideas include:

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Bake a treat of the month for the next year

Host a homemade dinner

To give these unique presents, just draw up some paper coupons for your friends and family to open at Christmas.

5 Smart Ways To Save This Holiday Season

2. Send Digital Christmas Cards

By the time you add up spending on stamps, envelopes, photography and printing, your annual Christmas card can cost you an arm and a leg. A simple way to save time and money is to convert your mailing list to an email list. Create a special digital Christmas greeting. This can be created with an E-card website or using your own photo editing skills. Another fun suggestion is to make a wacky Christmas video with media sites like JibJab or Elf Yourself that build a quirky video for you. Attach a letter and send it to your contacts or even post it to share with all your friends.

3. Make It a Potluck

The holiday season also brings a seemingly endless string of parties and get-togethers. From White Elephant to the office party, these social events can make a substantial cost when you bring gifts to exchange, food and drinks to share or pay for dinner at upscale restaurants. Fortunately, there are some smart ways to navigate the Christmas party madness while still enjoying the fun.

If friends want to plan an expensive evening out, offer to host the party at your home and have them contribute the food. When family is invited over for a special meal, suggest a potluck dinner so everyone can share the cost and appreciate everyone’s recipes. Think of homemade gifts to bring to exchanges, and bake a desert contribution instead of purchasing a pre-made dish.

4. TV Alternatives

An easy way to cut spending without missing out is to simply switch service providers for things like phone, Internet and cable. If you love your Hi-Def channels but can not really afford them, research companies like to find potential savings by opting for a satellite dish. DirectTV packages can still provide your favorite channels with clarity while relieving your wallet every month.

5. Bring the Gym Home

The holidays bring lots of fabulous foods and usually a few extra pounds as a result. This leaves many people signing up for gym memberships as they write new years resolutions to exercise and undo the damage. But you can save more monthly cash by investing a little bit in equipment to use at home. Enjoy jogging around your neighborhood or taking local hikes. Use weights, resistance bands and a medicine ball to get a great core workout without taxing your bank account.

With these five tricks, you can find creative ways to save while still having a merry Christmas season.