Christmas on a budget | Sunday Observer

Christmas on a budget

A few tips on making your holiday affordable and enjoyable.

Holiday gift giving can be a drain, both on your mental health and your wallet.

As you age the holiday spirit takes on a different meaning. Hopefully the feelings of cheer and good will stay the same, but your attitude towards presents starts to shift.

Namely, it changes from something you await eagerly to something you endure wearily.

That might be an exaggeration, but gift-giving does take on new connotations once you’re expected to give as much as you get. It can feel like an imposition to spend so much money on so many people – especially if you’re living on a shoestring budget.

It’s no wonder that so many of us find ourselves deep in credit card debt by the time the new year rolls around, often failing to pull ourselves out by the next holiday season.

But Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. There are plenty of ways you can cut back on holiday expenses, shaving off a few rupees or even eliminating them entirely. You just have to be willing to try something new.

If you’re looking for ways to cut back this holiday season, here are some pointers.

Make a budget

Christmas spending often goes overboard with the shopping list. To avoid overspending, determine how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and then make a list of all your holiday obligations, including presents, travel and decorations. Then, ascribe an amount to each item, overestimating slightly.

It will probably hurt to spend less this year but consider this: almost 25 percent of consumers surveyed in October said they haven’t repaid their credit card bills from last year’s holidays. If you’re in the same boat, add up how much you’ve spent on credit card interest and stick to the budget this year.

Find extra savings

Look for discount codes

Most retailers have a certain percentage off. Try online sites, try to shop through retailers who use and browsers that gives you cash-back for most of your purchases.

Sign up for a store’s email list

Usually you’ll get an extra 10-20 percent off if you’re a new subscriber. Sometimes I’ll even create a new email address to get multiple discounts.

Save on wrapping

I love wrapping Christmas gifts more than anything, but wrapping paper, bows and ribbon add up quickly. I shop at a wholesale store for all my wrapping needs, where I get more than enough paper for just a few bucks.

Gift ideas

If you have a special skill, such as woodworking or landscape design, give that as your present. The monetary value will be much higher than whatever you’d find at top end malls, and it could be especially precious to the beneficiary. Plus, it won’t cost you anything except for your time and hard work.

Other gift ideas include baking mixes, homemade soaps and bath salts – and of course, anything edible like breudher, yule-log or even rich cake, we know they’ll always get used and they won’t add extra clutter. We also put together a pretty long list of Christmas gift ideas for you to consider this holiday season.

Alternatives to gifts

Instead of buying everyone on your list a present, here are some gift alternatives that won’t make you look like Scrooge.

Take the money you’d spend on gifts and treat everyone to dinner at your favourite restaurant, an evening at the movies or an afternoon at an escape room. The camaraderie you get from sharing an experience together will last longer than the thrill of opening a cashmere sweater.

Another popular alternative is to do a gift exchange instead of buying each person a present. Draw names and set a price limit, such as Rs.2000/=. That’s enough to buy a substantial gift without ruining your holiday budget. This is perfect for big families, where gift giving can get pricey once spouses and children come into the mix. Some families even decide to skip presents for adults and only buy gifts for the kids.

Talk to your family and friends

If money is tight, Christmas can feel more like an imposition than a celebration. Stressing about the holidays isn’t fun and can lead to feelings of resentment towards your more affluent family and friends.

Talk to your loved ones about avoiding a gift exchange or minimizing how much you spend. You don’t have to give them all the reasons why, just enough so they understand. Who knows – your brother-in-law who’s just had a baby might be grateful to take a year off from the craziness of gift-giving.

As an adult, getting gifts for your friends and family feels more and more like a chore. But it can still be fun if you come up with some alternatives to traditional gifts! The ideas above are just a few ways to get you started.