Ah, the holidays. It’s a time of gathering with those we care about, and celebrating health, happiness, love, and joy. Oh yeah. It’s also about the presents. Lots of presents. And guilt if you don’t buy lots of presents for the ones you love. It has become a crazy materialistic time of the year full of stress if a Mom or Dad can’t deliver. Or is it? Is this just us putting this inordinate amount of stress on ourselves, Moms? You know we don’t have to. There are lots of ways to have a fun and reasonably priced holiday season. How can you pull this off? Here are 10 ways to make the holiday fun and frugal!
We all have good intentions every year not to overspend during the holiday season. But then, what ends up happening? We end up feeling stressed, rushed, and pressured to deliver a SUPER fancy season full of entertaining and gift giving. All the good plans of making gifts, home baking, and other things goes out the window in favor of quick, convenient, and unfortunately, expensive solutions. This is where good planning equals money saving fun. In early November, look realistically at what you and your family can spend. Allow a bit of wiggle room, and if you can’t, that is where you have to make alternate plans for the holiday you and your family can afford.
Shopping in advance for gifts is a great way to save time, money, and your sanity, later on. Ok, most people shop with their laptop now so there are other better options than waiting in lines sweating you butt off, but buying gifts last minute often means overspending as there is no time to look at prices and compare. You may find, as is the case for toys, good deals in October and November. I have found great prices on toys in these months, and often even find great stocking stuffers for my son in the “summer liquidations bins,” such as balls, ring toss games, and one year, a tunnel and ball bit which was forty percent off its regular price! You can afford to be choosy and price compare looking at flyers online, and even ordering online before the big rush orders come in.
In my family, even before money became tight for some of us, many members voted on no gift exchange among the adults. We are a large extended family who get together, and everyone has kids now. My husband and I have exchanged small gifts over the years, but we do not give to parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nor they to us. It’s easier and less stressful. We used to just give to the children of our relatives, but even that got complicated. Every kid in our family gets TONS of stuff already. It was mutually agreed upon that the gift is seeing one another, the kids interacting, and sharing good food and wine together. This way, no matter what income bracket any of us are in, we can enjoy the day and celebrate without a guilty conscience of one gift being superior to another.
Ah, church bazaars, or really indoor garage sales, is what I like to call them. They are great places to find treasures at the right price! Call me crazy, but the “frugal woman” in me who LOVES a bargain, gets so excited in November when I see the Bazaar advertising on line and in the local papers in my neck of the woods. I usually frequent our church’s one to obviously support my church, but also because over the years, I’ve found some amazing stuff there. I mean, I bought a wine decanter with four glasses for $15.00! I also found beautiful Christmas decorations, homemade with a lot of detail for .50 to $1.00! Then there were some candles, a holiday soap dispenser and candles for$5.00 and some oven mitts for $1.00!
A friend of mine whose Dad and Mom are very practical, decided one year that the whole family would chip in and buy tickets for a weekend away in Mont-Tremblant to ski and toboggan instead of exchanging Christmas gifts. That was their holiday celebration, and they saved up for it for several months. The weekend away could be as elaborate or simple as you like. That is up the family. Again, the important thing is remembering what you are celebrating, family, feasting and togetherness.
This means being well-prepared in advance with food, so there is no temptation to overspend in the culinary area. Think about it. If you have two weeks of pre -made meats, veggies and carb dishes (or even just meat and veggies), you’ll be less tempted to reach for that pizza or Chinese takeout menu. If money is an issue, food is one VERY controllable area for spending. It’s like cooking on Sunday for the week, so you have your meal plan all set out and no temptation. Think how good it will feel knowing you do not have to cook till after the holidays are over!
Tempted to go out to the movies, theater, buying books, or other expensive outings, but don’t have the money? You can still have tons of fun at home. How? Think how many DVDS you have sitting around the house, that you haven’t watched from years ago. If not, there’s places like Netflix getting more and more stuff. Not appealing or possible? Borrow a movie from a friend and share movies out between you. Not in the mood for a movie? Then there’s borrowing books for the library, or second hand bookstores, as an option.
Wondering what food to serve your family that is tasty and economical? Have everyone make a signature dish even if it’s only hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy them together. Get the kids involved and do something like a pizza making station or taco making station. That is always a hit and frugal too. J This is not expensive to set up and can be a lot of fun. For those interested in something more challenging, look for sales (or second hand versions in good condition) of fondue sets, and you can make this together as a family. Cost saving and fun!
Invite friends over for dinner or go to see to eat at their place. This is cheaper than any takeout or eat in, and can be more intimate as well. Make it a potluck so the cost is spread evenly and remember, if more than a few families come this can be a really economical way to see one another and share costs. One family can be in charge of hors d’oeuvres, one the main course, one soup, one desert, one wine and spirits etc.
Yes, I know it sounds dorky. I used to laugh at my boring folks playing these games at their adult dinner parties, or at family ones when the kids were in the basement, but heck, they are fun. It gets everyone talking, interacting, and is something different than the usual conversation. Card games are also a good way to go; Go Fish, Pick up five etc.
So there you have it ladies. There are many different options for celebrating the holidays the frugal way, and still having fun. We are often our own worst enemy for putting financial pressures on ourselves to spend way more than we have. Really, all we need to have a good holiday is health, family and friends, (and good food and wine), to remember what makes all the hard work worth it. So go on out, be merry, and have a blast. Happy holidays and all best for 2017!
Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at "Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance," www.exceptionalparenting.net. She also blogs at "Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child" www.exceptionalmomchild.com, about how her son with autism is raising her! She explores the ups and downs of parenting a special needs child, and as a speaker and parent coach, she helps parents of special needs children find the strategies they need to help manage their children's challenging behaviors, in order to live a life of wholeness and balance. You can find more information about her coaching programs at www.exceptionalparenting.net. Joanne also has a FREE EBOOK on MANAGING EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY available for download at the following link: www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net.
Through her writing, Joanne wants to reach out to other special needs or exceptional moms, and give them these same tools to help them live their best possible life. Joanne also is a blogging contributor to "Huff Post Parents Canada", "BlogHer-Special Needs", "Wise Women Canada", as well as "M List by the Suburban," and "Parenting 101 by the Suburban." Her articles have been featured in "Scary Mommy", "Her View From Home", and "Romper". She writes parenting and lifestyle article for "The Things" and "Baby Gaga". She is at work on a book entitled "5 Ways My Exceptional Son Has Made Me An Exceptional Human Being," as well as a young adult fantasy novel. Joanne makes her home in Montreal, Quebec, with her husband, son, and the family cat, Princess.