I know it's hard to believe, but you can actually celebrate Christmas for free. Presents and all!

Many of us are on a tight budget and we simply can't afford to give the gifts we want or even buy the decorations for our house we need. This is where a friend of mine gets the light bulb above my head glowing.

She is swapping and bartering everything online. "Katie" (she didn't want me to say who she really is), was so upset about not being able to go all out last year, that she concocted a plan, after watching the TV show Barter Kings to swap her stuff for the things on her "get" list.

Think of it as a twisted kind of re-gifting. Sometimes she has to make a couple of deals to end up with an item on her list, but so far she is doing great.

Here's how it works:

1. Make a list of things you want. Whether it is gifts or decorations, be specific.

2. Make a list of possessions you are willing to part with to get the list items.

3. Join swap sites online and find local swap shops or people interested in swapping. The classifieds can help.

4. Have safety measures in place for changing hands. Don't blindly send items to people or meet people alone.

5. Plan as far ahead as possible. For next year, you want to start in may, but go ahead and give it a test run this year!

6. Most importantly, be willing to negotiate. You may be able to get something on your list in a couple of swaps rather than not at all.