When you look back at your best holidays, what comes to mind? It’s probably not that expensive toy you got. More likely, it’s the laughs you had and the joy you felt being with people you love. Here are a few tips for creating more of those good memories without the accompanying stress and debt.
Establish realistic gift wishes for children (and some adults!) beforehand. This can help shift the focus of the day from gifts and it presents a teachable moment about the value of money. You could offer a budget and ask the children to prioritize their wish lists.
Speaking of lists, be sure to make them and stick to them. Ask for hints and, if you’re comfortable with it, suggest a dollar range that’s realistic for your budget. If others ask you for ideas, it’s nice to choose varying price points to give them affordable options, too.
Give experiences, not things. Instead of giving an expensive gift that lasts only a year or two, give a voucher or gift card they can redeem for a spa service, a museum visit, or a class they’ve been wanting to take. Maybe you can join them and make a day out of it!
Compare brick-and-mortar and online prices. As more of us have moved to shopping online, stores are offering good prices to lure customers back. Perusing local options supports your local community, may save you money, and you don’t need to wait for it to be shipped to you!
Have fun with wrapping paper. It’s expensive and then just gets tossed, so it’s not environmentally friendly. You can use some pretty cloth you have in-house, the funnies from the newspaper, or use a bandana to give them two gifts in one! Or place the gift in a re-usable bag that can later be used for groceries. Maybe decorate with yarn or string from other projects, or odd bits of ribbon you have in the house.
Make the holiday dinner a potluck. If you do the whole thing yourself, you’ll be stuck in the kitchen all day. By sharing the load, you get to enjoy the day too, and everyone gets their favorite thing! You can even create a bake-off challenge and let the kids be the judges.
Spend time instead of cash. Been meaning to check out the holiday light display in the local neighborhood? Love making cookies? Schedule time to do fun holiday activities with the people you care about, even if it means cutting back on shopping.
At the end of this holiday season, make your plan for next year while expenses are fresh in your mind. Add up all costs, including travel, food, gifts, and decorations, and then divide by ten so you’re ready by next October. We’ve made it easy to go online and designate a specific savings goal so you can chart your holiday savings progression.
Here’s to spending more time making good holiday memories and less on worrying how to pay for them!