The holiday season can be expensive. Here are my top 10 tips for making your holidays more affordable and less of a stress.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule or one of the many other end of year traditions, this can be an expensive time of the year.
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Here are 10 things that we do in our family that greatly reduce the amount of money that we spend around Christmas time.
1 Save all Year Long
I know it probably isn’t much help right now, but you can get yourself ready for next year with some preparation now. Set up a holidays account at your bank and an automatic payment in to it each pay day. We set aside $20 per week, which at Christmas means we have $1000 sitting there to help with buying gifts and all the delicious holiday celebration food!
If you also have annual travel to family or on vacation, then you may like to add more each week or month.
You can choose to set this up as a bonus saver, where you earn extra money each month that you add money in and don’t take any out. OR you may choose to offset it against your mortgage while you are saving.
2 Shrink your Gift List
How many of your extended family do you actually have to buy for? Would great Aunt Maude be just as happy with some home made fudge as she would a new bunch of toiletries that she won’t use, or a letter set that she will sit in her desk?
Most of your family will be happy with a simple card rather than a gift. Get a little ruthless.
Could you look at doing a secret Santa or ballot where everyone only has to buy for one person rather than everyone buying for everyone.
As a family we do homemade gifts for our parents, buy for only one of my 3 siblings (it is shared around), and get something for under $20 for each of the children cousins.
Our own children get a small stocking of mostly treat food and hair ties/clips then their gifts from us are usually clothes, books and a practical something that they want – this year it is a sleeping bag each.
3 Go Homemade or Second Hand
Homemade gifts are often more satisfying to give, and people tend to appreciate them more. Consumable gifts are also great, as it means you aren’t gifting someone a bunch of clutter to find a home for.
Very trendy items can be found at junk yards or second hand stores, or online.
4 Slim Down the Events
You do not have to go to everything. This is a very busy time, but it is also a very magical time. Slow down and try to enjoy it. Don’t waste the whole month running from one event to the next. Try having some fun at home activities instead!
5 Cheap Traditions
The best family traditions are about fun and connection, not about money! Check out these lovely family tradition ideas. Take a walk by the beach, or a drive to a mountain top. Play board games together, or a sport on the lawn.
Family time does not have to be expensive.
6 Make your advent calender activity based
Children don’t need pricey chocolate calenders. Use each day an opportunity to do something fun together. Try some of the family tradition ideas above, or these ides here.
7 Be Organized
There are somethings that come on special leading up to Christmas, that then become very expensive just before the big day. In our city it is strawberries, but other things like chocolate and cream often does it too.
Buy your celebration food over the month or so before the holidays as they come on special. However, only buy things you know you will use otherwise it will actually not save you money at all!
8 Host Pot-luck Meals
If you have others over for meals, ask them to bring a plate. With the advent of Google docs, you can set up a spreadsheet with a menu and recipe links and share it with everyone coming.
This ensures that you don’t end up with 20 plates of green beans and no desserts!
9 Use Real Plates and Cutlery
Rather than buying and using paper or plastic plates and cutlery, try scrounging garage sales, junk shops and craigslist for secondhand real plates, cups and cutlery. Or ask extended family to bring some. Once you have bought them, simply wash them and store them away for next year.
10 Take a Stay-Cation or House Swap
If you are looking for places to go for your vacation and are worried about the price, try having a holiday at home. Put away the computers and your phone and experience your area like holiday makers.
OR see if you can house swap with friends or family.
The holiday season does not have to be bank breaking. What do you do to save money over the holidays?