How To Spend Less During The Holidays
I think as we grow older, our Christmas list gets smaller, and the things we really want for the holidays money can't buy.
- Anonymous -
Christmas time is always a hectic time - and usually even before the end of Thanksgiving, people are thinking about what to get others for Christmas! It was always so stressful for me, especially in my life now, where I have to balance gift-giving and paying off my loans. I've decided to get creative with my budgeting this year and instead of big-ticket items, gift experiences. I've also decided to start with setting a spending limit so my close friends and my family can be less stressed and strapped for the holidays. Christmas should be about the JOY that it brings and the idea of magic and wonder should fill the air - not scraping pennies and trying to out compete others for who gives the better gift. Here are a few ideas that I've come up with to bring back the joy and magic of Christmas, as well as limit the spending for gifts:
A unique gift can be magazine subscriptions for all ages - adults to even little ones. Subscription magazines generally don't cost more than 20-30 dollars (and that's on the high side) per year for 12 months of magazines delivered straight to your recipient's door. If you have a friend or relative whose into current events, business, or who just want to be in the know, consider a subscription to Time Magazine or the New Yorker or the New York Times or Popular Science (if they're science-oriented like me!) Oftentimes, magazine subscriptions also come with unlimited access to their online version. Got kids? Try your hand at Highlights magazines or National Geographic - these are learning magazines that are also fun and engaging for all ages. For example, Nat Geo has a version for kids as young as 2-3 years old and a version up to even 14 year olds.
Secret Santa or White Elephant
This is always a fun tradition among friends and co-workers. Doing gifts this way includes everyone in the Christmas spirit, but also limits the number of gifts one person has to buy among friends or co-workers. Oftentimes, there is a set limit so gifts don't get too extravagant. Not familiar with Secret Santa? It's when a group of friends or colleagues places their names in a pile, and each person draws a name - that's the name whom you will buy a gift for Christmas and your recipient must guess who bought them the gift. There's often a set of clues or a riddle that comes with this to make it fun! What's even better is the gift exchange - get everyone together, some eggnog and food, and start riddling away!
Another unique gift are museum passes, especially if you have friends that love museums or friends with young children that can partake in unique museums near their city, such as the Building Museum in D.C. Museums are a fun way for family to pass the time- and experiences are always a better option than toys for kids!
If you're the creative type, hand-made items may be for you. Love to knit? Consider knitting some awesome cool ear warmers with neat looking designs. Maybe even try making your own lotion or consider some personalize graphic design pieces. Get on Etsy to get some ideas on what you can make. With the a laptop, printer, and even self-service stores you can send you mock-up to, you could get really creative with hand-made ideas. The personal touch is all you need for a great Christmas gift that also stays within the budget! If you're gifted with Adobe Creative Suite, you could create some fun looking designs that are personalized!
Celebrating christmas can be difficult if you're on a budget, but setting spending limits and getting creative with gifts can really help. people tend to forget the joy of christmas, and the gift giving can sometimes get out of hand. by setting limits and creating a spirit of enjoyment (rather than receiving gifts), you can limit the stress that christmas brings with gifts, and limit the damage to your bank account!