Here are 6+ tips to budget family holidays this year. Prices are rising but sound budget plans are timeless in application. No need to stress or have anxiety about the approaching holidays if you follow these simple steps.
Money, or lack of money, can be the cause of a lot of stress during the holidays. For some of us, we’re simply annoyed that we don’t have all the funds we’d like for decorations or gifts. Others of us are dealing with major financial setbacks that eat up an enormous amount of our brain and willpower to deal with every day.
While I can’t solve the financial problems you’re currently struggling with, I can sympathize AND hopefully help you see that the holidays don’t need to add to your money worries. With planning, creativity and a little grace for yourself and others, this holiday season can be the best yet, regardless of how much money you do or don’t spend.
Preliminary Step to Budget Family Holidays
Please, do not skip the exercise below.
It’s very important to do the following in order to accurately budget family holidays.
We’re taking a moment to ponder and write down some possible money problems this holiday season. For this step, you may want to focus only money issues. However, there may be many other matters surrounding any financial problems you’re having this season. If so, it would be good to note those, too.
As I work with myself in mental and spiritual development, I always start by acknowledging the problems I see – the trials, the pains, the ills, the injustices. I usually write them down, so that’s what I’ll challenge you to do right now. Take a few minutes and get them all out.
Alright, that’s a harsh list and not one we want to dwell on overly much. However, by getting these challenges onto paper, you can give those items their moment to be seen and understood. We don’t want to anchor those feelings in; rather, we want to set them free. They’re in our way.
Now, let’s move on to making a list of our financial blessings! We all enjoy abundance in some way or other. Sometimes, this truth is hard to remember when we’re stressed over money matters. We’re only human; this is normal.
This may fee a bit tedious, but I promise that this is an important step. You’ll be glad you took the time to do this part.
Simply list below anything you can think of that you’ve received, enjoyed, made, etc. that can be considered a financial boon.
- Did someone bring you dinner one night? Help you change out the air filter in your car?
- Maybe you found some coins in the couch or some extra jars of jelly in the pantry.
- Was the garden producing well this summer?
- Maybe you were able to glean some orchard apples for free or you caught a fantastic sale at the discount grocery.
Whatever it is, write it down and express thanks for it! This exercise will free up your brain and heart as we cover some ways to use your resources well this holiday season.
6+ Tips to Budget Family Holidays
Oh, so many opinions on how to do this best, right?! The fact is, you’re already doing something that will result in money managed well during the holidays!
What is it?
You’re planning ahead, planning well, planning at all! It turns out that financial experts all agree on one thing – a person with a plan is more apt to handle their money wisely than a person without a plan. Especially around the holidays.
Budget and Cash
- The first thing that should go on our food/decoration/gift lists – right at the top – is the budget amount we have for the holidays. So, whether it’s Day of the Dead or Ashura or Thanksgiving our lists should be topped with the dollar amount we’ve set aside for that holiday. Once the money is gone, we’re done purchasing.
- To help with this, it can be beneficial to only use cash for our holiday purchases. When cash runs out it’s very visible; it can be harder to track expenses charged to a card if we’re not meticulous with our records.
- Be sure to include on your budget list the items we all forget about during busy holidays. Items like postage, gas when traveling, pet or house-sitting expenses, larger grocery bills, wrapping materials or shipping costs for gifts, donated items for service projects and clothing drives. What expense are you always forgetting?
Think Ahead and Expectations
- Start planning and shopping several months in advance of any holiday or birthday event. If you begin too late, you’ll be more likely to spend in desperation or be talked into purchases you don’t really need. This is especially true at Christmas.
- Be sure to check in frequently with the brainstorming and ideas you came up with earlier. Managing expectations is a huge component of successfully handling your budget during the holidays. The spouse, kids, extended family and friends all need to know what your limits are and what is most meaningful to you during this season. You won’t be able to communicate it if you haven’t really thought it through yourself.
- One that note, keep the meaning of the season in the forefront of you mind. If you consistently remind yourself of why you’re celebrating in the first place, you’ll be able to make mature, responsible decisions about your spending. Most of our holidays are just that – holy days. There’s always a spiritual, familial or cultural component to each festival. Figure out what these days mean to you! (If you didn’t do the very first brainstorming assignment above, go do it now.)
Gifts and Lists
- The more handmade and homemade items and foods are, the more you’re likely to save money. Handmade does NOT always equal frugal, though. It’s best to plan your homemade gifts and handmade foods as you would anything else – with the budget in mind. More on “handmade” in the next chapter.
- In large families, be sure to be realistic about gift giving. You can draw names out of a hat so that each family member is assigned one other to give a gift to but not everyone needs multiple gifts from everyone, even parents. Also, those outside your immediate family circle don’t necessarily require a purchased gift. A big batch of caramel popcorn, an evergreen wreath or a basket of home-canned items are all low-cost options for those whom you feel would benefit from receiving a little something.
- Along those lines, teachers, neighbors and members of our congregation don’t need tangible gifts every year. An offer of babysitting or dog-walking, an invitation to dinner or a handmade card with a sincere and personal note included are more than enough for many people on your list. For most of us, the thought really is what matters most.
All Around the Year
- Remember all the holidays of the season, not just Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza. If we celebrate more evenly throughout the whole season, we’ll be better able to spread out our resources. Resources include time and energy, not just money.
For example, if the kids would love to see cousins and neighbors but you know you’ll be busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas, what about having a fun Halloween/Day of the Dead/Samhain celebration? An evening of snacks, games and costumes can be just the thing to give the kids the chance to visit for the season without the added cost of gifts for each.
Budget Family Holidays with Real Value
I remind you again of the from-the-heart nature of simple gifts. Homesteaders typically have learned to do many things by hand – canning, soap making, sewing and on and on.
These handmade items aren’t always the cheaper option because no one could beat $1 clearance socks from the big box store! Rather, homemade items and simple gifts are a reminder of simple pleasures and thoughtful gestures.
Save Money with Decorations from Nature
Garlands and wreaths are simple to make from fall prunings in your garden. Any vine will work, for the most part.
- To learn how to make a vine wreath, click here.
- Make a vine basket, click here.
- To learn to make a vine garland (along with a myriad of other natural decorations), click here.
There are a number of other natural decorations you can make. For example:
- How about this chili pepper Christmas garland straight from the garden of Project Zenstead.
- I’m a sucker for burlap and these vintage ornaments from Melissa K Norris are natural enough for me to be on this list!
- Sustain My Craft Habit has a simple driftwood Christmas tree that is particularly soft and sweet.
- I’m particularly fond of these Nordic Christmas Ornaments made with round cuts of natural wood by Pillar Box Blue.
- I saved my favorite for last! I love these Okra Santa Ornaments from Learning and Yearning. Okra isn’t something I eat, but I would grow some just to make these ornaments!
Eco print cards are simple to make but you do need to pay attention to what’s blooming and fruiting during the growing season. If you plan to make your Christmas cards with this method, be sure to start collecting items and experimenting with designs by the end of summer, at least.
You can learn the basic method here.
The Rest of the Budget Family Holidays Ideas
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Secondary pin image gratefully attributed to this Pexels user.