• Stefanie

CDTC: Budget-Saving Tricks for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us! With less than a month until Christmas, I wanted to start a series on tips and tricks to help keep your sanity during these crazy days. Regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, these tips will help you feel in control.

Often with holidays, we get worried about the amount of money we spend on presents, decorations, and food. I've put together a few ideas for how you can maintain a budget-friendly holiday season.

Hosting a Potluck or Tree Trimming Afternoon

If you are fortunate enough to have a place of your own, why not host a potluck with friends and/or family? Often growing up, my family would host a tree-trimming afternoon where we were able to invite friends and family to our house. They could bring an ornament to add to our tree, or bring a snack to share with the other guests.

If having just friends over is more your idea of holiday fun, you could host a potluck night. Put together a guest list and food list with your group of friends for a night of eating, drinking, and entertainment under your roof. You could even put together a Secret Santa game or have a game of White Elephant. For White Elephant, decide on a budget for a gift and have everyone bring it to the event. Everyone draws a number and you play a game in which you rival friends to win the prize you desire. You can find the full rules for White Elephant here. It is A LOT of fun.

Alternatively, you could ask people to bring over board games or use your own collection for a night of laughs and fun the way we did as kids.

Make Gifts

For people like myself who love to make gifts for others, you can save some money by making your own presents. Often, you can find one or two things to make, buy the material for multiples, and hand them out to those who you think would enjoy that gift. People also love getting a good homemade gift. It really encourages the spirit of the holidays by showing those who receive the gift that you took the time to make them something they would enjoy. Head to my DIY page for great ideas (more Christmas/holiday ones to follow soon!).

Have a Secret Santa game with Family

For as long as I can remember, the adults in my family have had a Secret Santa exchange. Once my brother and I were adults, we were invited to join in on the celebration. It really takes the pressure off of having to buy for so many people at one time. My family uses DrawNames. What's great about the site is people can put together a wish list, you can pick the date of exchange, budget, etc. It remains completely anonymous. Even I, as the organizer for the draw, have no idea beyond my own drawn name who has who.

Make a Gift List with a Budget (and stick to it!)

For the past few years, I've kept to a budget for each person on my shopping list. It really helps me stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed by spending too much money. By keeping track of what I get each person, I'm able to constantly remind myself that I have gotten gifts and feel good about crossing off people on my shopping list. I like to use the app Microsoft OneNote. I can sync it to my phone from my computer and really has a nice organized appearance with lots of customizable options.

How do you save money and stay organized during the holiday season?

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