Holiday celebrations bring together friends, family and communities. You shouldn’t have to miss out simply because money is a little tight. Here are five tips to help you deck the halls without breaking the bank:
1. Set a maximum budget for your total holiday spending
Once you set your budget limits, decide how much of that total cost will go towards each of the following holiday expenditures and stick to it:
PRO TIP: According to Practical Money Skills, financial planners often recommend spending no more than 1.5% of your annual income on holiday spending.
Know what gifts you want to give well in advance. Then you will have time to bargain hunt, set-up layaway programs, or catch the gifts on sale. Additionally, you can save money when shopping online if you bulk all of your items into one shipment instead of multiple shipments.
PRO TIP: Plan out in advance what you are going to buy and where you are going to buy it before shopping on well-known sale dates like Black Friday (November 29, 2013) and Cyber Monday (December 2, 2013).
3. Homemade gift ideas
Store-bought gifts aren’t the only way to go. Get creative and save some money by giving your friends and family personalized gifts that they’ll love.
PRO TIP: Here are some sites to help you get started:
2300 Homemade Gifts: http://www.tipjunkie.com/category/homemade-gifts/
25 Handmade Gifts Under $5: http://www.the36thavenue.com/2011/11/25-handmade-gifts-under-5.html
100 Homemade Gift Ideas: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/giftstomake/tp/HomeMadeGiftIdeas.htm
4. Gift Giving Ideas
Instead of buying gifts for every person in your group, pool your money together to buy a single group gift for each person. Another fun budget-friendly option is to participate in a Secret Santa game. In this game each person determines who they will buy a gift for by randomly drawing the name of another person in the group. This ensures that each person in the group gets a gift and no one has to buy more than one gift.
PRO TIP: Set a gift value for the Secret Santa game. That way no one in the group feels cheated or overshadowed.
5. Decorating Without Over-Spending
If you can’t wait for the after-holiday sales, there are plenty of clever ways to decorate without emptying your bank account. Create wreaths out of this year’s holiday cards, bring a little of the outdoors inside with painted pinecones, build ornaments by stringing a loop of buttons together, and, for a unique look, make a Christmas tree from wrapping paper, wood or string.
PRO TIP: Here are some sites with creative solutions: