Spend Less this Holiday Season

Great tips for trimming your holiday budget.

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Trim the Holidays Without Being a Grinch

All the Whos in Youville will be just as happy as they were before

-Megan Southwick

woman on ChristmasWith the economy in turmoil and layoffs left and right, so many of us are looking for innovative ways to trim our holiday budgets without taking the warmth and glow out of this special time. Here are a few of my favorite tips!

1. Trim the budget. Agree to a dollar amount to be spent on gifts – and for goodness’ sake, don’t deviate, because we can tell. We can ALWAYS tell. Even better? Make it stupidly fun by making it a rule that each person spends only $10 and can ONLY shop at the dollar store. What you do after that is up to you – you can make something for each person out of the purchases or just give a pile of tiny-yet-silly gifts.

2. Reduce, reuse, regift. One particularly sparse year, my family dug out all the obnoxiously horrible gifts we’d ever been given – weird ceramic knick-knacks, sweaters with bells and lights on them, etc. – and rewrapped them. There were one or two real gifts mixed in – gift cards to Target, for instance, but it was mostly hilarious junk. We played bingo until all the gifts were given out, and it was a blast. It was more about the family togetherness than the gifts, and no one missed the presents one bit.

3. Donate. Seriously – just donate $10 to a charity that you know the recipient would care about, be it the ASPCA or the March of Dimes. You’ll get a card saying a donation was made in their name (you don’t even have to say how much). This is the perfect way to give a personal gift that shows you really know the recipient without having to blow your budget on rare gems.

4. Buy only for the kids. Let’s face it. You are an adult. You no longer need to maintain the myth of Santa. You can buy yourself the things you need, and in most cases, what you want. So, save the money you’d spend on the adults in your circle and agree to only buy for the kids – and even then, set a dollar amount so that no one is too stressed. If everyone buys or makes one gift for each child, there will be PLENTY to go around.

5. Make your own wrappings. A big roll of butcher paper is a great alternative to wrapping paper, especially if you have kids – they can go to town on it with crayons and markers. Waxed paper is another alternative – take two sheets and sandwich snowflake cutouts between them and you have instantly interesting wrapping paper. For ribbons and bows, instead of buying expensive holiday-specific bows, try visiting a fabric store to check out their ribbon selection. Sometimes you can get six yards or more of ribbon for under a dollar!

Are you trimming the holiday budget this year? How do you plan to save?

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