Holiday Saving Tips: Spend Less & Enjoy More

Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

It’s September 26 and you know what that means… 90 days til Christmas! In case that number isn’t scary enough , try this one: For many of us that means six paychecks til Christmas (Scarier? You’re welcome). But don’t panic. Even if you’re not one of those ultra-responsible people with Christmas Club accounts who started saving in January, you still don’t have to break the bank. There are tons of holiday money-saving tricks. Here are some ideas:

Shorten your gift list

Take a deep breath and hear me out. The holiday season is supposed to engender thankfulness and generosity – not soul-crushing pressure to buy things for everyone you’ve ever met and their brother. Just a small shift in mindset might save you time, money and stress, allowing you and your loved ones to actually enjoy each other… which is, after all the point.

Many times the pressure to get someone a gift results in purchasing things our friends don’t want or need, which they will re-gift at their office white elephant party. Instead, try a homemade card, a handwritten note of appreciation with a ribbon around it, or even a coffee date or long phone call. It will be much more meaningful and more true to the spirit of the season.

For those with large families, a family drawing can be a life saver. In my family, each working adult draws one name and gets a really thoughtful gift for that person. This makes Christmas morning more fun and less stressful for all of us.

Simple, homemade gift ideas

Holiday saving tips pie in a jarIf you have a gift-giving soul and just can’t help it (or for people like your kids’ teachers or groups like church choirs or business associations) there are a million easy and fun handmade gift ideas. My favorite is Pie in a Jar. These beautiful little treats are just the right amount of sweet and so easy to make.

Handmade ornaments are another great money-saving idea. These cute wrapping paper gifts serve as a great and affordable reminder that presents are not the most important thing.

Or, try these gorgeous mason jar snow globes. A friend gave me one for Christmas a few years ago and I loved it. Make them with your kids to turn gift-giving into a fun family time.

Another favorite – candles wrapped in cinnamon stick candle-holders. Inexpensive and absolutely beautiful.

Cut out a few expenses

A few minor adjustments to your habits can save money and make the holiday season more fun. For instance…

DIY wrapping paper! You can recycle old books by using the pages to wrap gifts. It’s cute and artsy.

DIY coffee: All the coffee shops are releasing their delicious holiday drinks, but at $5 a piece, you could save between $5 and $35 per week just by forgoing a few lattes. And the best part is, you can still get into the Holiday spirit by making some of them at home, such as this homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte. Make it just for the family, or at your next hosted party.

Pack a lunch: Brown-bagging lunch for a few weeks may take a little extra time at home, but it’s a good habit to get into all year long. A fast food lunch can cost between $5 and $10. Skip a few lunches with your co-workers and opt instead for a homemade salad and a phone call with a faraway relative on your lunch hour. It’ll be fulfilling inside and out!

Decorations: Recycle, repurpose, and more

There are so many brilliant decorating ideas out there. Check out our Fun and Affordable Holidays board on Pinterest for some of them.

I love to make homemade centerpieces for my Christmas parties. A few $1 glass bowls, some of last year’s Christmas balls, a few pinecones from the side of the road and voila! A gorgeous table centerpiece.

There are dozens of things you can do with mason jars. Put votive candles in them and use them to add mood lighting, make the above mentioned centerpieces out of them, wrap them in ribbon and use them as flower vases, serve Christmas drinks in them and more.

You’d be surprised how many items in your garage can be transformed into beautiful decorations. Repurpose old books to make literary tree garlands, and paint an old cabinet door to make creative holiday signs.

We hope any Holiday spending panic has subsided a little. Feel free to comment with any other suggestions or ideas you have!

09/26/2013