The holiday season seems to begin earlier every year, with some retailers piping in the holiday music before the Halloween candy has even been discounted. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit and quickly find yourself spending more than you planned on holiday gift giving, decorations, and elaborate family meals. With a little planning and creativity, and remembering what is really important for the holidays, you can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest without spending more than you can afford. It’s not about the cost of a gift that is important, but rather the time you spend with the people you love.
Saving money over the holidays does not mean you need to turn into Scrooge, either! Here are some tips for cutting back your expenses during the holiday season:
Gift Giving Tips
If you feel like you have to buy for everyone, you’ll quickly feel the stress of the holiday season. It’s not possible for the average person to buy for everyone. Go ahead and limit yourself to buying gifts for your immediate family only, and have a get together with the rest of the family in lieu of presents.
Start your holiday shopping as early as possible, so you aren’t scrambling to come up with cash to buy gifts at the last minute. During the summer, many retailers will have good sales in an effort to make up for their low sales volume months. Buying and storing items during these sales can save money and reduce stress as the holiday season gets closer.
Take advantage of the Black Friday specials. If crowds and frantic shoppers turn you off, look for the online version of sales, most offered with free shipping, and do your shopping from home.
Gifts for Children
Of everyone on your gift list, children tend to want very specific items. The younger the child, the easier it is to satisfy their holiday wishes. For the very young, purchasing several inexpensive toys or items to open is extremely impressive and if your family celebrates Santa – they’ll be amazed at the number of gifts he left under the tree. As children get older, their wish list items become more expensive – so rather than get in the habit of buying everything from their list each year, just pick one or two of their favorite items and supplement with smaller gifts and some necessities, like clothing or a new pair of shoes.
If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving and/or Christmas dinner for your family, make the meal a potluck. You’re providing the home and the main meat dish, let each person bring the side items. Everyone you invite can bring a dish to share, just keep track of who is bringing what so you don’t end up with ten green bean casseroles!