With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the ways my family cuts costs and frustration while still enjoying the season. I come from a family of 5 kids. My husband and I are both from divorced parents, so our Christmases have consisted of 4 separate families, each with extended family members, step siblings, their spouses and kids… You can’t leave anyone out. So for many years I would start shopping in September to spread out my spending on Christmas gifts. Then, I decided the holidays are supposed to be FUN, not crazy, stressful, and expensive. So here are some ways I manage.
1) Draw family names instead of individual gifts Last year I FINALLY got the families on board with drawing names for gifts. That way each person only buys one!! That seemed to me to be the best way for everyone to still have the traditional gift exchange, but not have to go crazy with picking out 50 gifts. Now I just buy 4 gifts, and I can take a little more pride (time and maybe even a few extra bucks) on something really special for the 4 names my husband , I, and my girls draw.
2) Buy decorations and accessories on clearance Since my own girls were young, after Christmas (and every holiday really) I go buy things on clearance. Decorations, tableware, gift sets… all the things they mark down to 75% off or more! I have a huge shelf in my basement that I store it on all year, and next year when that season comes along, I just go “shopping” from there!!! You can do this at all holidays, and even for birthday gifts. When toy stores have a huge clearance sale, I buy up stuff cheap, and when my girls are invited to birthday parties, we go “shopping” in the basement!! It saves a ton of time, money and headache!! My suggestion-which I learned the hard way- buy the generic characters!!! I bought Halloween costumes afterwards for the following year. Let’s just say it’s not cool to wear last years’ big movie characters 12 months later!! Ooops. So stick with the generic pirates or monsters, or princesses or animals.
3) Make homemade versions of popular gifts This year on Mother’s Day I decided for our 4 mothers we would make our own fruit bouquets. I’ve seen the Edible Creations ones, they are beautiful, but EXPENSIVE!!! So we just dipped our own strawberries, pineapple chunks, and cookie balls in chocolate, arranged them on scewers, and put them in vases. All the grandmas loved them, and they were easier on my budget, a handmade gift (which is always most appreciated), and it allowed me and my girls to spend time together creating our special gifts. So I’m extending that new tradition into this year’s Christmas gifts. We are going to be making homemade candies and fudge!!! (Wish me luck!!) I bought the cookie tins last year after Christmas for pennies, so we’ll fill them up and give them out!!
While the holidays are a great time to celebrate, they can also get hectic and stressful if you go overboard. Theses are just a few of the ways that I keep them a little more manageable financially, spending more time with my girls and husband, and still enjoy the traditions of gift giving!!!