The holidays, while a lovely time for joy and gathering, can also be a time of big spending. Between gifts for family and friends, parties and entertainment, it can drain your wallet. If you find yourself feeling a bit nauseous over your dwindling bank balance this holiday season, read on for some ideas for a simpler—OK, cheap—celebration.
When we get down to the nitty gritty of it, the holidays aren’t all about extravagance. If last year’s pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the wonder of the holidays lies in spending time together. Looking back on holidays past, we find that our fondest memories are the simple things, like Aunt Susie’s amazing homemade cookies, the way Mom’s house smelled just like cinnamon sticks, or even the corny jokes and stories Grandpa told. Simple holiday traditions hold a lot of beauty and warmth, so why not incorporate more into your celebrations this year?
Crafts aren’t just for kids.
One great way to save on costs is with homemade decorations. Children can help make paper snowflakes, gather and decorate pinecones with glitter for a centerpiece or wreath, and make salt-dough ornaments that can double as party favors and gifts for guests. Kids can also make paper chains or garland for the tree using colorful felt balls and beads.
If you want a more grown-up theme, this dried orange garland will create not only a seasonal feel, but a beautiful aroma. Mason jar crafts are also a great way to add some nostalgia to your holiday décor. Check out the many votives that could sparkle on a side table, mantel, or even as a centerpiece.
If you’re feeling extra motivated and own a die-cutting machine, this Christmas village hoop wreath makes an adorable wall hanging guests will love. Of course, any handmade decorations can also serve as beautiful and heart-felt gifts for family and friends. Pinterest provides a myriad of ideas if you’re looking for some easy but meaningful homemade gifts.
Bring on the potluck.
To simplify everyone’s efforts and keep more greenbacks in your wallet, how about turning the food spread into a pitch-in? You’ll have to arrange assignments with guests ahead of time to ensure all the appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts are covered, but that’s a lot less work and whole lot easier on the checking account than buying and preparing everything yourself. Plus, isn’t it fun to try all the new dishes attendees bring? Win-win! And don’t discount the joy guests will feel knowing they’ve had a hand in a successful soiree.
A fun dessert to try that will wow your guests but won’t break the bank is the newest party trend: a hot chocolate bar. This is a great idea for all ages, and guests can bring cookies to add to the table for a beautiful display. Add in some common cocoa toppings as well as some that are a bit on the experimental side for an extra dose of awesome.
Share the fun.
Another way to keep out of the red is by substituting a white elephant exchange for the usual gift-giving tradition. Everyone can bring one gift at a pre-determined price point, and all will have a great time seeing the other guests’ goofy scores. This can be even easier on the bank account (and funnier) if you determine ahead of time that you’ll all be giving regifted presents. It’s probably best to pick either practical or humorous gifts so everyone is on the same page. Any way you go, it’s sure to be fun for all.
Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean forgoing special times with loved ones and friends. By incorporating some simple new traditions, you’ll not only save money, but you can make the holidays even more extraordinary. What’s important is that we get to be together this year in ways we weren’t able to last year. And that is what makes a holiday gathering that much more meaningful.