Most of us loathe to see the hijacking of our favourite holidays by commercialism and pressure to spend. Yet, we have come to harbour so many expectations of how the holidays ought to be celebrated, and it often takes the spending of money to meet those expectations. Fortunately, there exist alternatives for the money conscious. Here are our top four ideas:
Ditch the wrapping paper: you may need to rely on disposable gift wrapping for gifts you give outside your home, but within your household, you can do away with throwaway materials in favour of reusable fabric bags. It takes absolutely minimalistic sewing skills to make a rectangular bag, and with the amusing fabric selections out there, homemade bags will serve double duty both as gift wrap, as well as an addition to the décor. If you're really uneasy about the idea of sewing, you're not out of luck: reusable grocery bags can be bought cheaply in an array of colours. Not only are you reducing your landfill contributions by using reusable bags, but you will also see savings over the years to come in money that you're not spending on wrapping paper.
Use second hand décor: try not to get suckered by designer displays of décor that stores set up this time of year. It helps to realize that those displays won't look that way in your own home. Instead of paying for these pricey pieces, do a little bit of digging on Craigslist, at garage sales, at church rummage sales, or in your friend's attic. Not only will you spend less (or sometimes even nothing at all!) you're also bound to acquire one of a kind items that aren't in production anymore. That will add sparkle and uniqueness to your setup.
Plan gift shopping throughout the year: anticipating your holiday spending can help you save in a couple of ways. First of all, planning ahead gives you plenty of time to lie in wait of a once-a-year type of deal on the items you are looking to buy. Additionally, it helps you stay focused, which reduces the chances of you overspending. When you are armed with a plan, sticking to it will ensure that you don't get caught up in the holiday hysteria of “deals” and of the urgency to get something fast.
Eat in: while meeting friends and family at a favourite restaurant can be a great time, so can hosting a dinner in your own home—especially since your holiday décor will create an ambiance unique to that time of year. Hosting gatherings at someone's house will be both more frugal, and more personal. It doesn't need to be extravagant either. If the thought of cooking a Dickens-style feast for the whole neighbourhood intimidates you, realize that you don't need to go to such proportions. You can scale back by:
- keeping the gatherings intimate (limiting numbers)
- hosting a potluck (so that the work is shared—and people are usually quite happy to contribute!)
- hosting tea and dessert instead of a full on meal
What are your favourite frugal holiday traditions?