Six Ways to Save This Holiday Season
The prime holiday shopping season is weeks away, but it’s never too soon to start budgeting for everyone on your gift list. Even with careful planning, finding room in your bank account for gifts, wrapping paper, decorations and all the expenses that come with the holiday season can be a challenge. With these money-saving tips, you can indulge your generous nature and keep your home merry and bright during this season of giving.
1. Shop online
There’s a reason so many shoppers look forward to Cyber Monday, and it isn’t just because they don’t want to circle the mall parking lot for an hour. When you shop online, you save time, fuel costs and taxes. It’s also easier to comparison shop when you’re able to see a whole range of items at the click of a button. Because they have lower overhead, online retailers typically offer outstanding prices that more than offset any shipping charges. To take full advantage of online holiday shopping, start early; you’ll avoid the rush and have plenty of time to wrap.
2. Speaking of wrapping, think beyond costly wrapping papers for your holiday gifts
Some gifts can become wrappers for other gifts; for example, a decorative scarf might make pretty packaging for a matching hat and gloves. Handmade wrapping using brown craft paper or inexpensive muslin painted or dyed to match your holiday decor can look far more fashionable than anything you buy in a store. Add some gift tags, and you have a beautifully unique present for someone special.
3. Get creative with your gift exchanges
Some of the most memorable gifts come from themed events such as white elephant parties or humorous secret Santa exchanges. The point of these gifts is to find clever and inexpensive items that add to the fun, rather than impress with excess. To make your game more exciting, wrap presents in packages that conceal what they truly are. Tuck a tiny gift in a huge container, hide unusually shaped items in regular boxes and add weights to something light to give participants in the game a surprise when each gift is opened.
4. Go homemade
When you make a gift yourself, you’re also giving the gift of the time and effort it took to prepare the present. Handmade presents can be customized to suit the person receiving them. If you know Aunt Judy doesn’t like peanuts while Uncle John loves them, bake a batch of brownies for each of them. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef or expert baker to make edible homemade gifts that recipients will treasure; lumpy cookies taste just as good as professionally iced ones. Another great thing about homemade presents is that you can make extra to keep on hand for surprise guests. Make an extra dozen or two of your favorite rum balls or popcorn treats; then, keep a few holiday treat containers handy for neighbors, co-workers and others you’d like to surprise.
5. Let your decorations do double duty
Most households have accumulated years of Christmas ornaments – often more than can fit on a single tree. Gather the spares and display them in an attractive glass bowl as a centerpiece, or hang them from the garland on the mantel. If you have a real tree, use the branches you trim from its base to create a wreath or add a decorative touch to the bases of white pillar candles. Strands of lights make your tree shine, but they also look dazzling when wound into a strand of evergreen garland or placed behind a tissue-paper screen. Apples, walnuts, pumpkins and pomegranates are seasonal and delicious; use them as decorative accents in the kitchen until they’re eaten.
6. Remember the reason for the season
No matter which winter holiday you celebrate, it’s a time for generosity of spirit. Whether you celebrate it as a renewal of faith or a celebration of family and friends, focusing on people rather than presents for your holiday shopping season will make it a more joyous one for you and everyone around you. If possible, volunteer your time by helping at a shelter, planning the holiday office party or offering to watch a harried family member’s kids. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness more than any tangible present.
Saving for the holiday season doesn’t have to mean cutting your gift list or doing without when you get creative with your holiday shopping, gift-giving, and decorating ideas.
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