Making Cents Blog

Five Ways to Save Over the Holidays

The holidays are here! Celebrating with family and friends are wonderful — but all that merrymaking and gift buying can get pricey.

Here are five budget-friendly ways to ensure you don’t start the new year with a holiday debt hangover.

  • Decorate with the help of Mother Nature: The great outdoors is an inexpensive source for holiday decorations. Gather a handful of pinecones, spray-paint them gold and pile them in a glass bowl. Slice up a few apples, dry them in an oven, and thread them into a wreath (here’s a great how-to).  Display branches in a glass vase and hang mini-Christmas tree ornaments with thread or a fishing line. Place a rock in the glass vase to anchor the arrangement so it won’t tip over.
  • Recycle decorations and cards. With a little creativity and glue, you can re-use last year’s Christmas cards by making them into ornaments, wine gift labels, gift tags, place cards, and more. (Here are directions.) Or you can cut them up and assemble your own DIY holiday cards. And instead of buying more seasonal décor, re-use what you already have – but spruce them up. For instance, spray-paint old ball ornaments silver and gold, or cover them in a thin coat of glue and roll them in glitter.
  • Switch to LED Christmas lights. LED lights are more durable and use 90 percent less electricity than regular incandescent Christmas lights, can last up to 100,000 hours, and do not get hot to the touch.
  • Attend community events. Many local college orchestras and choirs offer holiday concerts, as do churches and music ensembles. Local theaters and dance companies also put on holiday productions, and some towns host downtown holiday parades or caroling. The cost is usually low, and oftentimes, free. Also, in every community, there is usually one or two neighborhoods that sport the latest in holiday lighting and decor. This year, get everyone bundled up, bring a thermos for hot drinks and make the event last by walking instead of driving through the holiday-themed streets.
  • Host a potluck party. Save on food costs, prep time and clean-up by throwing a potluck party. This gives your guests the chance to share a favorite family recipe and show off their culinary skills, and allows you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the fete.
  • Offer your time. Instead of presents, offer your presence and skills to friends and family. To a friend with kids, give a free night of babysitting. Help an elderly relative with housework or prepare a home-cooked meal. Teach a family member a skill or offer them technical support.

Using even just one or two of these tips will help ensure you stick to your holiday budget — your wallet will thank you!

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