As the holiday season approaches, do you find yourself looking forward to the festivities, but concerned about the impact on your wallet? You are not alone. By doing some planning now, you can simplify your gift giving. Here are ten ways you can enjoy this special time of year and keep spending in check:
1. Food. Consumable items are very popular during the holidays. The recipients may enjoy the product themselves or share it with others when entertaining. Consider special breads, beverages, fruit baskets, snack items, regional favorites, and gourmet coffees and teas.
2. Go green. Find locally grown plants, flowers, and dried wreaths. Another option might be to purchase colorful washable napkins, placemats, dishcloths, reusable bags, and lunch bags with individual containers for sandwiches and snacks.
3. Set limits. This could be done by establishing a dollar amount per gift, completing your shopping in only one or two trips, purchasing one gift per family, or committing to doing all your shopping locally.
4. Made by you. Make your own food specialty. Knit a scarf. Hand craft an item. Create an annual holiday ornament. Give a framed photo.
5. Hobby-related gift or gift certificates. Consider the recipient’s hobbies and interests. Are there gardeners, chefs, woodworkers, knitters, readers and gamers on your list? Gift accordingly by providing them with the tools or materials to do what they enjoy.
6. Agree on a gift challenge. Discuss this idea well in advance of the holidays with those whom you regularly exchange gifts, but make it fun. You might suggest handmade items only, gifts under $10, one gift for a whole family, limit shopping to consignment or thrift store finds or pick a theme such as useful or consumable items only.
7. Purchase the same type of gift for everyone. It could be umbrellas, scarfs, journals, board games, puzzles, nice pens, throws, books, or flashlights and batteries.
8. Recipe Book. You could make up a recipe book with family favorites or provide a blank recipe book for the great cooks in your life.
9. Coupons for your services. Offer your time and abilities. You can create coupons related to your skills. Perhaps it is cooking a favorite meal, snow shoveling, home repair or an oil change, mending, guitar lessons and so on.
10. Create a special memory. Look in newspapers or online for special events this holiday that are free or low cost. Instead of purchasing gifts, make a date with your family and friends to enjoy an event together and get together for desserts and coffee.
Most importantly: enjoy your holidays!
For more information on budgeting, visit NCB's Educational Center.
Article provided by Faye Griffiths-Smith, who works for UConn Extension, a nonprofit coordinator of Connecticut Saves.