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Whether hosting gatherings, giving gifts, or decorating the house, there are ample ways to overspend during the holiday season. And while it’s easy to give in to consumerism, there are also plenty of great options to save money during the holidays. Here are a few ways to take your foot off the gas and keep holiday spending in check, leaving you and your credit card statements feeling financially healthy come January.
Remember the reason for the season
Above all else, it’s critical to think about why we gather and celebrate this time of year. We each have so many incredible blessings to be thankful for. By shifting the focus to the larger “why,” we can approach this season with gratitude and appreciation for the non-tangible things in our lives. And we can use our savings for something we really care about, like hiring a personal trainer for the new year.
Save money on gifts
Gift-giving is one area where it’s incredibly easy to go overboard, especially when you keep finding the “perfect” gift for someone after you’ve already maxed out your agreed-upon spending limit. The below ideas can help you keep the cost of gifts low while maximizing enjoyment for the recipient.
- Gift your time – Time is our most precious commodity. o why not share yours with your community or a loved one? Consider volunteering to collect gifts for those in need in your town or offer to babysit while a close friend enjoys a much-needed night out. These are the types of gifts that let people know you truly care. Just be sure there’s no tit-for-tat involved. If you watch your sister’s kids for the night, don’t expect her to repay the favor later. A gift is a gift, not a chance to drop the “you owe me” card later.
- Make it at home – Search “homemade Christmas gifts” on Pinterest and be amazed at all of the unbelievably creative gifts others have made. Many of the options are inexpensive, adorable, and can often be made with supplies you already have on hand. If you have kids, this can be a fun way to get them in the holiday spirit and let them flex their creative muscles while also guaranteeing lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from loved ones when they open them.
- Do a gift exchange – White Elephant, Secret Santa, and other types of gift exchanges are a great way to keep costs low while having a lot of fun. Since each participant only needs to worry about bringing a single gift, it encourages more creativity. I’ve yet to participate in a white elephant that hasn’t made me cry from laughing at the absurd gifts some people come up with.
Save money on gatherings
Whether hosting or attending, parties and gatherings can get incredibly costly if you let them. Here are a few easy ways to dial back the spending, no matter if you’re staying or visiting.
- Say yes to help – If you’re welcoming people to your home, you’re probably already spending a great deal of time and energy cleaning and prepping your space for guests. So when a friend calls to ask what they can bring, assign them something. While tempting to say, “oh, just yourselves,” your sanity is better kept intact by asking them to bring a bottle of wine or a dessert. It’s not an imposition to ask a guest to bring something small, especially if it takes a task off your already overflowing plate.
- Make it a potluck – Along that same line, potluck-style meals are a great way to keep stress down by not needing to cook for every guest. This definitely takes a bit more organization, though, as you don’t want every guest bringing green bean casserole. Set up a spreadsheet or keep a handwritten list so you can easily recall what everyone is bringing.
- Keep hostess gifts small – No one likes to show up empty-handed. But not every party hostess needs an expensive candle and a fancy bottle of wine. If you know how many gatherings you’ll attend, plan to buy or make several of the same gifts. A scented homemade hand scrub, decorated mini bottle of olive oil, or cute kitchen towels* are inexpensive ideas that the hostess is sure to use and appreciate.
Save money on decor
Isn’t it appealing to have your living room look like it could grace the cover of a magazine? But do you know how much some of those tiny decorative pieces really cost? Be practical when decorating over the holidays, and use these tips to stay within your budget.
- Don’t go there – Literally, avoid placing your body in a decorative store where you know you’ll overspend. I am an absolute sucker for Hobby Lobby, Target, and HomeGoods. I truly have no idea how to leave without over $100 of really cute items in my cart. So I do my best to avoid them during the holidays when I’m more susceptible to impulse buys. And if I do need to go for something I can’t get anywhere else, I make a list and stick to it.
- Keep decor to a minimum – Less can certainly be more when it comes to holiday decorations. A few cute signs* around the house are all it takes to add a pop of holiday cheer. Especially if you’re planning to have a packed house this year, space is a more important factor than covering every surface with a decorative trinket.
- DIY – Before you drop hundreds of dollars on ornaments for your magazine-ready tree, consider for a second that you might be able to craft even more beautiful ornaments and memories with the family at home. As long as you’re not looking to win any competitions, the joy you’ll get from homemade decorations is sure to surpass any you might have from just another meaningless store-bought item.
So whether you’re traveling or staying home for the holidays this year, remember that it doesn’t have to be expensive to be memorable. The best things in life are free, and the best holiday stories often come from spending time with loved ones, not the things you’ve bought.
Do you have other ideas on how to save money during the holidays? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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Disclaimer: The above is my own opinion and is for informational and educational purposes only. The views expressed above are completely my own and are not intended to be a substitute for investment or financial advice from an actual professional human. While I might have some great ideas, seek a duly licensed professional for any financial or investment advice.