Holidays can be very expensive. Whatever holiday it is that is celebrated, there are most likely numerous dinners, presents, parties and so on that are going on between your family, friends and work. Last month I talked about how to save money on travel over the holidays, but what about all of the other expenses that feel like they are “required” over the holiday season?
We tend to spend a lot over the holiday season (luckily almost none of it on travel because almost everyone is right here in the same area), but the costs of attending dinners, parties and giving gifts can really add up quickly.
For example, this year we have Thanksgiving to go to which is at the same place as always (his grandmother’s home). The WHOLE family goes which is over 100 people. Each person just brings one item that will be enough for everyone. Our job this year is to supply hot chocolate. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but the hot chocolate maker that we need is $75, and the hot chocolate, water jugs, cups and marsh mellows will probably be at least another $30 to $40. And this is JUST hot chocolate!
Of course I do realize that this is not a lot of money (and I really do not mind spending money on holidays at all, because I love them so much), and that the holidays are not all about money, but it just adds up very quickly!
With the hot chocolate idea above, I could do things to make it cheaper (such as just using a very large pot), but with many young kids, it would just be too difficult and probably not safe for a pot to be running for half a day. Thinking of other ways to save money is never a bad idea and this is what we plan on doing.
Ways that you can save money over the holidays:
1. Stick to your budget.
Try and find the best deals for the food and presents that you need. Don’t try and justify one purchase, because you will most likely do this across the board and before you know it, you will have spent twice what you wanted to.
If you think that you cannot control your holiday spending, maybe hide your credit card from yourself for the month. “Saying” that you will pay it off when the bills come but not being realistic about it is not a good idea.
2. Gift exchanges.
If you are a part of a big family which will require a lot of gift giving, try and see if anyone would want to have a “secret santa” type of gift exchange. Not having to give so many gifts can greatly cut down on the costs.
Most likely, there will be other people who would want to do this as well. It also cuts down on the time needed to find gifts. Instead you can find one really good gift instead of 10 “average” gifts.
3. Use coupons.
Many stores and restaurants have lots of coupons available over the holiday season. Matching up coupons to the items that you have already planned to buy can help you save a lot of money as well.
Using coupons on your purchases will only really work well if you have everything planned out well. Buying things just because you have a coupon is most likely not a good idea either because you might change your mind and decide that the present is not good enough.
4. Holiday cards.
Holiday cards are always nice to send and receive, but if you can, try taking the pictures yourself and printing them off a website yourself. They will most likely still look great and the personal touch will definitely be liked.
Also, instead of taking the holiday pictures yourself or having them professionally done, you can always glance over pictures of you and your family from earlier in the year. I am sure there is something great out there, and you never know, something might work out! I know of many families who do this instead of spending $300 on professional holiday pictures.
5. Make gifts.
Not all handmade gifts are cheap, which is a big misperception that many have. However, if you already have the materials on hand, then why not use them? There are so many gifts out there that are possible for you to make. Maybe you could bake cookies, knit mittens or something else. I’ve always loved receiving handmade gifts much more than anything else.