The holiday season is an especially risky time for those of us that have goals that involve living a mindful, budgeted lifestyle. Even those of us that hold these goals so dearly most of the year can get sidetracked by the pressure of spending over the holidays. In the consumerist western culture, we’re made to believe that what we spend has something to do with our worth as a good family member or friend. This year, let’s remember the better side of the holidays: the opportunity to share and pass on traditions. Let me recommend that one of those traditions ought to involve practicing frugality. Through frugal practices, we can show wonderful examples of resourcefulness, appreciation, and that sort of be-your-own-person approach to doing things that the holidays can sometimes lack. Here are some ideas to get started on:
Start With Setting a Budget
If you have your own family, sit down with your partner and discuss what a reasonable budget is for holiday spending this year. Simply having this conversation is worthwhile because of the feelings of accountability that come along with it. But even if you’re only planning for your own budget, the key is to stick to it. Other helpful budget-setting tools include setting a cap on how much you’ll spend per person or per gift.
Redefine the Holidays For Yourself and Your Children
Especially if your children are very young, you have an opportunity to make each holiday your very own. For tight budgets, you might employ a secret Santa style gift-giving arrangement where each family member gets only one other family member a gift. You might also consider giving a family gift to a worthwhile charity. Maybe your family spends an entire day each season on a movie-thon. Maybe you cook together or go for walks in the snow. The holidays are about togetherness and tradition, so put your stamp on them.
Create and Re-use Holiday Décor
You’ll get a double-whammy out of the low-cost fun of creating your own holiday décor while spending time with your loved ones. If you find yourself wanting to purchase something new, it can cost you big unless you find a super bargain. A great alternative is to find used items and repurpose them. You never know what you will find when you go to your local thrift stores. It’s possible you could find a beautiful antique, or you could use your creativity to refurbish something making this season cost effective, but also more sentimental if you put time into redefining an old item.
No matter what your budget may be this year, vow to be a little bit more thoughtful about how you give and how you ask for gifts. If you have children, have them write their wish list the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil. The problem with online shopping is the unlimited items available with the click of a button, taking away the boundaries usually put up by local accessibility. Instead, have your children write to you about what they would like and why they would like it. Maybe even have them list it from most wanted to least. Encourage charitable habits and keeping tidy at the same time by asking your children to donate some of their older possessions to children who will go without new gifts this year. It’s worth saying; gift-giving does not need to be done cheaply to be done frugally. Buying someone something of quality that costs a bit more, but will last, is much better than feeling like you should buy them a new one next year to make up for it, and it’s a much more thoughtful gift in the long-run. As for receiving, the frugal move may just be to ask for the thing you really need or will buy later in the year anyways so that you can offset whatever costs you do have from holiday spending.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!