Saving money is a high priority for many people. While there are plenty of ways to cut costs in your everyday life — such as canceling old subscriptions or looking online to compare auto insurance quotes and finding a lower rate — the holiday season can pose a bigger challenge when it comes to saving.
The holidays often involve many expenses, such as gifts, food, and activities. If you have a large family, you likely feel obligated to purchase presents for most of them during this time of year. You also may find yourself hosting family meals, causing you to spend a lot of money on preparation and ingredients.
While the holidays are meant to be a joyous time of year, they can also be highly stressful if you’re trying to stick to a budget. The good news is that there are some fun and easy ways to lower your holiday budget and save money this coming season.
#1 – Plan a Potluck to Cut Food Costs
If you find yourself the host of a large family gathering, you may instantly dread the amount of food you’ll have to purchase for the event. Rather than racking up a massive grocery bill, try suggesting a potluck to your family or friends.
You can bring up this suggestion however you choose. Whether you want to explain to your loved ones that the food cost is out of your budget or if you want to get more creative with your suggestion is up to you.
A more creative way to suggest a potluck is to explain that you would like to know everyone’s favorite holiday meal. You can encourage your loved ones to prepare their favorite dish for the event by suggesting this.
Not only will a potluck allow you to cut holiday budget costs, but you may also get the opportunity to try delicious meals you wouldn’t typically prepare yourself.
#2 – Suggest a Yankee Swap With Loved Ones
If you’re unfamiliar with a Yankee Swap, the concept is relatively simple and offers an excellent opportunity to save money on present costs. In this gift exchange game, each person participating will purchase one gift. Typically the budget is set ahead of time, so participants should stay under a certain amount.
Once you’ve purchased your gift, wrap it up but don’t address it to anyone. When you get together with family, you will draw numbers representing the order each person gets to choose a gift. For example, the person who draws one will go first.
Each person can choose a new, unknown gift or steal from another participant if they like the gift they have already opened. In most game rules, you can only steal gifts twice, so once a gift has been stolen a second time, it’s that person’s to keep.
A Yankee Swap can be a perfect way to cut your budget without leaving out any loved ones during the holiday season. Rather than purchasing many gifts, you only have to buy perhaps one or two. On top of that, the game is fun and exciting to play with family and friends.
#3 – Take Advantage of Sales and Shop Early
Holiday shopping is often a stressful experience. The large crowds and endless spending make shopping this time of year challenging.
However, starting early on your holiday shopping can have many advantages. Stores often will put items on sale in preparation for their holiday shipments coming in, so you may be able to find some great bargains if you start sooner rather than later.
Early sale days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer huge savings on many items. If you can take advantage of these shopping days, you can often purchase gifts at a fraction of the cost.
Savings aren’t the only advantage of shopping early. You’ll also save yourself a lot of stress and time. Purchasing gifts sooner allows you to skip the crowds and long lines filling stores around the peak holiday season.
#4 – Get Crafty With Homemade Gifts
If you’re struggling with the number of gifts you’ll need to purchase for friends and family, try cutting your budget by making some gifts yourself. Creating homemade presents for loved ones can save you a lot of money during the holidays.
What you choose to create is entirely up to you. If you have a knack for baking, try putting together holiday cookies or sweets tins for your friends and family as gifts. If you are artsy, you could try your hand at some homemade decor or fashion for your loved ones.
No matter what you choose to create as gifts, the gesture will be even sweeter than purchasing a gift from a store. Your friends and family will appreciate your time and effort in making their gifts yourself.
#5 – Have a Secret Santa Exchange
Like a Yankee Swap, Secret Santa exchanges will allow you to drastically reduce the amount of money you spend on gifts this holiday season. Rather than purchasing gifts for everyone in your family, Secret Santa exchanges allow you to buy one gift for one specific person.
You can secretly draw names with your loved ones to see who you receive. Then, take all your knowledge of that person and purchase them a wonderful gift. This exchange is also typically capped with a budget, so you won’t have to worry about spending too much on the gift. If you’re gifting to someone really special, you can consider gifting a property you already have.
If you feel you don’t know what to buy, you can always do questionnaires along with your name drawing that each person will fill out. These sheets can contain information about each person’s favorite things, such as restaurants, movies, sports teams, etc.
A Secret Santa exchange is a great way to cut your holiday gift costs without excluding any of your loved ones.
Spending Less This Holiday Season
The holidays are meant to be a joyous time spent with family and friends. However, the expenses of the holidays can weigh heavily if you are hoping to cut costs.
Rather than spending too much, try any of these savings tips for the upcoming holidays. Whether you try a potluck, Yankee Swap, Secret Santa exchange, homemade gifts, or shopping sales, you will surely spend less with these tips.
Sticking to your budget can help you better enjoy the holiday season and focus on what really matters most — your loved ones.
Alexandra Arcand writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is a budgeting expert who loves the holiday season and enjoys sharing her savings tips with others.