With the holidays right around the corner, everyone is making a list and checking it twice. You may be ready for the holidays, but is your bank account? Americans are planning to spend $1,047.83 this year on the holidays.
If you’re on a fixed income or living off of workers’ compensation from an accident at work, money may be tight this year. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses – and spend over $1,000 – to enjoy the holidays.
Use these four frugal holiday ideas to enjoy the season without breaking the bank.
1. Celebrate with Your Nearest and Dearest
Some of the best memories are made at holiday gatherings, but you don’t have to host a big, lavish party to have a memorable holiday season.
Keep it small, and keep it simple. Intimate gatherings are often the most memorable and fun.
Invite those who are nearest and dearest to you. Host a small game night with simple appetizers and hot chocolate. You don’t have to spend a fortune to host a holiday gathering.
2. Give Experiences – Not Gifts
Gifts are lovely, but they aren’t the only way to express your love and appreciation for friends and family. Instead of spending an arm and a leg on gifts this year, why not give the gift of experiences.
- Plan a dinner or potluck, and invite everyone who means the most to you.
- Spend an evening driving around looking at lights together.
- Go see a holiday show at the community theater together.
The goal is to do something together instead of giving gifts to each other. This way, you make memories that last a lifetime.
It’s okay not to do gift-giving, or even to plan an experience together, if you’re on a very tight budget this year. A simple handwritten card will do, and is a thoughtful way to let your friends and loved ones know how much you care.
The holidays won’t be any less special if you decide to skip the gifts this year.
3. Give Handmade Gifts
Handmade gifts are truly special because you put so much time, energy and thought into them. You don’t have to be crafty to give handmade gifts, although you can certainly showcase your talents if you are crafty.
Here are some simple, frugal ideas for handmade gifts:
- Homemade cookies or any baked good wrapped in fun, holiday packaging.
- Knitted (or crocheted) scarves, hats, gloves, blankets – the possibilities are endless.
- Art (if you’re crafty).
- Homemade sugar scrubs, bath bombs or soap.
- Infused olive oils.
- Cookie mixes in a jar.
- Scented candles.
- DIY gift baskets with goodies.
Many of these gifts only require your time, a few inexpensive supplies and helpful directions (which you can usually find online for free).
People appreciate handmade gifts more than you think, and they’ll remember your thoughtfulness each time they use – or enjoy – their gift.
4. Find Free Events to Celebrate the Season
There are so many fun things to see and do around the holidays, from walk-through light displays to special shows and events. But many of these special events are expensive.
The walk-through light display at my local arboretum is $12-18 per person. For a family of four, it would cost $48 just to attend this event. That’s not including going out to dinner, the cost of gas, or the cost of anything that you purchase while at the event.
If you decide to attend an event like this in lieu of a gift, the cost is manageable, but on top of other holiday expenses, it can easily put you over your budget.
There are many ways to celebrate the season together for free:
- Look for free holiday events in your town – most cities have them. Maybe there’s a tree lighting celebration, a holiday fair, or free light displays.
- Make your own hot chocolate (or coffee), and drive around town to look at the lights and decorations in neighborhoods.
- Watch for free parades in your town or neighboring towns.
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the holidays this year. Find creative ways to give gifts (or skip the gift-giving altogether), and just enjoy spending quality time with the people who matter most.
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