Holiday on a Budget

With inflation at an all time high, we are all approaching the Christmas holidays with a bit of fear and intimidation. How do we have a meaningful experience with friends and family without overspending and creating debt? Below are a few ideas that might help.

As I cleaned up our Thanksgiving feast last week I noticed how much food was leftover.  Now my family is good with a day or two of leftovers. But after that, all that food is headed to the compost pile or trash. A simple thing to do is to half your recipes or make a full recipe and freeze half for later time.  So much money is wasted on food that we don’t eat and ends up in the trash can.  This is a habit we can work on throughout the year:  Prepare less food!

Often we show up in the holidays to each other’s home with gifts because we want to show love and appreciation to those we value. As lovely as this is, there are many other ways to show this love and appreciation. Consider the simple but meaningful gesture of writing a loved one a note of appreciation. In this note let your loved one know the specific qualities you admire and rely on in them.  Whether you do this prior or after an event, It will be memorable.

Time spent together is always more meaningful than a candle or another vase of flowers. Shared experiences create stronger bonds of connection. Introduce a time for your holiday guests to share a favorite holiday memory or past memory. Games are also a wonderful vehicle to share laughter and time with those we love. Caroling and karaoke create laughter and fun. Never underestimate the power of incorporating music in your holiday festivities!

Of course we still want to give gifts. However, consider giving the gift of an experience. So much of what we give others ends up broken, unused or discarded. Experiences provide memories and opportunities for learning new skills  Some of my favorite gifts received were an online watercolor painting lesson and a cooking class at the local Sur La Table. These gifts endured as I practiced my newly learned techniques. My girlfriend gave her grandkids season passes to the local Six Flags amusement park. This provided her grandkids with family fun throughout the years. 

Also consider gifts that can serve a purpose. My kids gave me gift cards to my favorite fast food places like Chick-filA . While living on a tight budget, having these cards for an occasional splurge was delightful. My kids also gave us larger gift cards for a fancier restaurant. Although these gift cards did not pay for our entire meal they reduced the total price enabling us to a Ruth Chris Meal at Chili’s restaurant price.

In this day of digital marketing, we are bombarded with images of all the things we supposedly need to have a happy holiday. Remember, we can strengthen our relationships in the holidays without elaborate decorations, fancy food, and expensive gifts. Give the gift of listening and kindness to insure the best holiday ever.


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