Every year, it seems like the expectations surrounding the holidays grow. There are more Black Friday sales, more parties to attend with hostess gifts and more piles of presents. Fortunately, you can get into the holiday spirit without taking out a second mortgage by exercising a good bit of fiscal savvy. Some careful planning and your own creative panache are all you need to stretch your holiday budget without coming off like a cheapskate. If you’re looking to save cash while still celebrating like a champ this year, try these easy-to-use tips.
No one wants a humbug home during the holiday season, but boutique trimmings can literally cost a fortune. Save money on your seasonal decor by thinking outside the big box:
Do It Yourself. Purchase a simple wire or Styrofoam ring at a craft store and make your own festive wreaths to adorn your front door and interiors. Get particularly crafty and use things you already have around the house to decorate. Ribbons, yarn, candy or even strips of newsprint can create a unique base for a wreath. If you have children, ask them to create holiday art for you to display on the mantle and around the house. Create gorgeous window decorations with the kiddos by melting crayon shavings between wax paper, then cutting them into holiday shapes.
Thrift Store Bling. You may be surprised at the high-end holiday decorative pieces you can find at thrift stores during the holidays. You can snag festive centerpieces, Christmas lights and ornaments at a fraction of the price you would pay in big box stores. Try adding your own twist to thrift store purchase with spray paint and glitter. Ombre ornaments and decorations are particularly easy to create on your own. Simply mix one part decoupage medium with one part glitter. Paint a thin coat over the entire ornament. Each additional coat should start slightly lower than the one before it. It’s a trend that’s incredibly easy to recreate on cheap thrift store pieces.
Investment Pieces. If you are a hard-core decorator it may be wise to set aside a certain sum each year to purchase one “investment piece” that you absolutely adore. Find one antique or handmade piece per year that thrills you, and store it in bubble wrap when the season is through. You don’t need to get the entire set of crystal angel ornaments for them to be valuable. Turn thriftiness into a holiday tradition by getting one gorgeous piece each year.
Holiday gatherings are by far one of the biggest expenses of the season. By the time you’ve shelled out for a turkey and ham, it becomes quite clear that the kids may have to sacrifice their college fund to make do.
Here are a few great ways to save on this year’s holiday feasts:
- Potlucks – Offer to cook the turkey and have each guest bring a side dish or dessert.
- Wine tasting – Invest in a few stellar bottles to start things off, and invite each guest to bring their own favorite to share with the rest.
- Dessert Party – Allow each attendee to wow you with their baking prowess and stick to providing coffee, cordials and ice cream for your guests.
Of course, you can extend this idea to cover any type of delectable holiday treat. Are you a cheese lover? Throw a cheese tasting party! Are cupcakes more your style? Invite your friends to bring their craziest cupcake confections. Play holiday music or movies in the background and you’ve got a great gathering people will remember. If you’d rather avoid a food-based gathering, try a craft party. Have everyone over to make homemade cards, pieces of art or even ornaments. People will leave with fun, creative items they made themselves – and you won’t have to shell out a fortune to entertain them.
Remember, no matter what kind of gathering you choose, it’s all about spending time together. You can’t put a price tag on quality time with your loved ones. A simple but meaningful gathering is far more important than how much the event cost. You can throw an amazing party with things you already have around the house.
Here’s an altruistic alternative to gift buying that will save you money on your next holiday family gathering: Have each family choose a single charity and donate a sum. After the feast, go around the table and have each family describe the charity they chose and explain why it caught their attention. This idea rescues you from expensive gifts for each family member and helps
generate a wonderful feeling of good will toward men among your kin.
If you’re not willing to give up the goodies this year, consider rethinking how you purchase gifts. Perhaps you could buy one big item for the whole family, like a flat screen TV or a game console you’ll use together. If your kids are old enough, you can even involve them in the process. Give them a budget to purchase their own frivolous gifts, then help them research to find good sales and decent discounts. It’ll teach them something about finances and give them the ability to get exactly what they want. As a bonus, you’ll avoid hours at the mall trying to discern whether your daughter would rather have the pink widget or the blue one.
Enjoy your holiday without stressing about cash by getting creative with your approach to gifts, gatherings, and home decor. Don’t go into debt just so you can have a “dream holiday”. Rethink your spending plan this holiday season and you’ll be in much better shape by the time the new year rolls around.