‘Tis the season to celebrate! The holidays are a joyful time of year. They often include festive gatherings with loved ones, gift exchanges, going out to dinner with friends, entertainment, traveling to visit family, and home decorating which can all help us get into the spirit of the season. However, all the celebrating can often lead to overspending and a depleted bank account come January.
Cutting back on holiday expenses doesn’t mean sacrificing fun and festivities with family and friends. Here are some great ways to celebrate the season without breaking the bank:
Make it a potluck party. If you’re hosting a holiday gathering for family or friends, don’t face the financial burden of entertaining alone. Ask everyone to contribute a side dish or dessert. For an added twist, make a themed meal and ask for your guests to bring their favorite dishes from their childhood. You’ll save money and reduce your stress, plus your guests will have the opportunity to try new holiday foods. Have culinary-challenged friends? Ask them to bring ice, drinks, napkins, plates, utensils, or anything else that helps to make a holiday meal special.
Have a gift-giving strategy. More often than not, people overspend the most on holiday gifts. Trimming your gift-giving list is easier than you might think. If you have a large family and exchange gifts with everybody, ask if they would be open to giving gifts just to the children or buying a gift for each nuclear family versus each family member. Secret Santa, where each person in the group draws a name and buys a gift for only that person, works great for a family or friend gift exchange. Whatever direction you choose, set a price limit for the gifts. Your loved ones and wallet will thank you.
Start a new tradition. Spending the holidays together doesn’t have to translate as exchanging gifts. Some ideas include volunteering at a soup kitchen or other organization that means something to your family, driving or walking to view the holiday lights, and baking cookies or other holidays treats together. The time spent together and the memories made are more meaningful and last longer than any wrapped gift.
Explore your city. Many larger metropolitan areas have free (or inexpensive) festivals and activities during the holiday season, and the Richmond area is no exception. The Richmond Downtown Holiday Festival is a festive, family-friendly event right in our backyard. A great resource for finding no or low-cost family activities in the area is 510familes.com.
Enjoy yourself. Instead of stressing out about pleasing people and shopping for gifts, focus on spending time and making memories with family and friends. The holidays shouldn’t be about material things, but about celebrating what makes us happy during the holiday season and beyond.
For those looking to learn more about “basic” financial habits to last all season long, Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services offers programs that are designed to support and assist individuals in budgeting and money management. For additional information on our programs, contact us at [email protected], call (510) 237-6459, or visit our programs page. Do you have any suggestions we might have missed? If so, comment below!