Saturday, October 22, 2011

Make Christmas Cost Less

Halloween hasn’t even come and gone and the Christmas decorations are already starting to crowd out ghostly masks and candy corn.

That got me thinking about Christmas this year and what we were going to do to keep costs low.  There are a lot of gifts you can create just with your own time and energy.  We did breads, candy, and cookies last year.
While Christmas and unchecked consumerism still bothers me, gift giving is one tradition that won’t be disappearing in our respective families any time soon.  The nice thing is that everyone is scaling back and having more open discussions about their needs instead of wants.
As you look ahead to your Christmas obligations, keep these strategies in mind :
Anticipate Travel Expenses 
 Most of us fall into two camps during the holidays.  We either must A) travel or B) host. Each involves its own set of expenses, from extra food and heating, to gas and hotels.  Don’t forget about taking off work too.

I doubt I’ll take off any work (I already get the 24-25 off) so that’s not an issue.  But we do have to think about how many days we’ll be out of town, if we need someone to check in on the cats, and if we’ll be crashing on anyone’s couch.
Plan Ahead 
Start making decisions now about how you are handling gift giving this year.  Do you need to discontinue giving gifts with certain friends?  Do you need to encourage the family to go to a drawing or children-only system?  Do you need to set aside extra time to make handmade gifts?

Mike and I are doing baked goods again.  That means that I’m looking at recipes and aiming to test any new ones by Thanksgiving.
Make a List  
Last-minute purchases can be disastrous for any budget.  Whether it’s a gift you forget, unexpected supplies need, or overlooking expenses like work parties, make sure you’ve anticipated these otherwise they can add up quickly.  

Each year my company does a potluck and Mike and I intend to host our own holiday party with friends.  I’m not anal enough to plan out menus at this point, but I have recognized that December is notorious for extra food purchases.
Spread It Out – This is a common piece of advice, but it’s worth noting each time.  I’ve never seen much sense in trying to purchase gifts all in one pay cycle.  Give your budget some breathing room.  

With baked goods, it’s easy to stock up supplies months ahead of time.  My biggest thing will be to test recipes ahead of time.  I plan on making my November weekends (which are miraculously all free!) a bake-extravaganza.

What are you doing to keep costs low for the holidays?


  1. What are your thoughts on re-gifting?

  2. Great question. I've certainly done it myself, but it's usually with items we already have around the house.

    The biggest thing is to make sure you're not giving the gift back to the person who gave it in the first place, or someone who would spot it as a regift.

    I tend to think of all items as a resource. As long as the item is something a person will truly love, then why not?