I love the holidays, but one thing I definitely don’t like is the amount of money I usually end up spending — especially if we travel overseas to visit my family back home in Peru or my husband’s family in Puerto Rico. This year, however, we’re not going anywhere, and I’ve decided I’m going to take a different approach when it comes to my holiday shopping.

So besides doing what every single expert will tell you are the best tips for shopping on a budget — such as making a list, sticking to a budget and using the Internet to look for the best deals — I’ll be thinking outside the box. These won’t work for everyone on my list, especially my kids who are still little and will be disappointed if they don’t get at least one of the gifts on their Christmas list. But I think they will be great options for others on my list.

Check out my some of my ideas to avoid going broke this holiday season:

1) Ornament exchange. My sister and I did this for a couple of years, but then we just let it go. I plan on implementing it again this year. The idea is to find an ornament that I think best represents her, her hobbies, her .

2) A scrapbook. Nothing says “I love you” like putting together a scrapbook from scratch. Nothing pre-packaged or digital. Just grab a photo album, a bunch of photos and get real creative. I got one like this from my sister one year and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received that I will cherish forever.

3) DIY gift baskets. I’m no good at crafts, but even a klutz like me can put together a gift basket around one specific theme without having to break the bank. This is actually a great idea if you have bilingual kids on your list.

4) Tickets to a Museum exhibit. And a coupon to go with the recipient. Instead of going by myself to the Van Gogh exhibit at my local art museum, I’m thinking I’ll give a ticket to a good friend of mine who’s into art and make it a date!

At the end of the day, though, truth is that no matter how much you try to save during the holidays, having some extra cash could make a huge difference. That’s why H&R Block’s Emerald Advance credit line is a great alternative. Starting right now you can apply and get up to $1,000 cash just in time for the holidays. You’ll just need a valid photo ID and your most recent pay stub. You don’t have to be a current H&R client to be eligible.

To help you get your holiday shopping started early, H&R Block is giving one lucky SpanglishBaby reader a $300 gift card.

***The prize was provided by H&R Block and may be shipped to the winner by H&R Block, but H&R Block is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of H&R Block. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. Winner to be chosen at random.

{Image via ckelly}

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