Though the holidays are months away, some parents already have their eyes on their budgets. Common advice for people facing financial issues is to cut back on spending, but that’s not exactly possible when you’re expected to play Santa for your kids. The most wonderful time of is an expensive time of year. Between friendly get-togethers, office Secret Santa, and the big day itself, you’re expected to show up and celebrate despite the cost of the holidays. If you’re worried about being able to deliver like Old Saint Nick, here are some practical shopping tips to help you save more even as you’re spending more.

  • Don’t order alcohol: The holidays will find you at swanky restaurants for staff parties and intimate dinners with friends. These meals can add up, especially if you purchase specialty cocktails on top of your food. You can save money by sticking to tap water. You can also try to organize your get-togethers around the bar’s happy hours and the restaurant’s specials.
  • Buy in bulk:Whether you’re shopping for food or party supplies, bulk stores can offer considerable savings on the items you need. Buying toilet paper, utensils, or flour in larger quantities is usually cheaper, but you should always double check the cost-per-unit to confirm you’re getting a deal.
  • Prepare work lunches: Lunch from the deli around the corner can be a convenient treat that gets you out of the office, but it can also get you into debt. Nearly two-thirds of those workers surveyed by Workonomix spend almost $2,000 on takeout lunches each year. Try following a meal plan and preparing your lunch the night before to see how much you can save.
  • Have a sensible backup: Rarely do the holidays go as planned. Family emergencies, household repairs, and last-minute gifts are a burden on your budget at a time when most people work less. If you’re finding it hard to pay for essential bills or repairs, an online lender of installment loans can help make up the difference. Installment loans mean lenders like MoneyKey don’t expect you to repay what you owe in one lump sum but in smaller chunks or installments. This makes it easier to repay without sacrificing other parts of your holiday, and when you get an installment loan online, you can receive the cash you need in as little as one business day.
  • Use apps: There’s a lush ecosystem of shopping apps out there — from rebate programs that offer you cash back on purchased items to coupon apps that compile the best deals in your area. Take a look at this list of apps to help you get started.
  • Shop the second-hand market:Another group of apps help you shop second-hand, though you can tap into this market without the need of your phone. Whether by consignment shops, websites like Craigslist, or the latest downloaded app, you can find gently used decorations, kids clothing, and sports equipment for sale at a lower price than they would be new.
  • Bring out your slow cooker: If you’re welcoming friends and family into your home for holiday meals, consider serving a slow cooked meal. That slow cooker collecting dust is a great way to introduce intense flavor to cheaper cuts of meat, so you can avoid spending extra cash on the best cuts without sacrificing taste.
  • Take advantage of free activities: Part of the fun of the holidays is enjoying your time off with your family. It’s easy to rack up costs when you fill your time going to the movies or a ticketed Christmas fair. You can save money without staying at home by searching out free entertainment in your area. Your community center or local library branch should offer affordable events, activities, and other winter-time entertainment.

At a time like the holidays, the typical financial advice doesn’t help. You can’t cut back on how often you spending during a time when you’re expected to show your loved ones with gifts and make merry. You can, however, cut back on how much you spend by shopping wisely.