Money Saving Ideas for Fun Family Holidays

‘Tis the season for holiday preparations. This should be a joyous time focused on the meaning of the holidays, but it’s easy to get carried away with the presents and regalia, leading to financial stress.

Channukah MenorahsHere are budget conscious, time saving tips for whichever holiday(s) your family will be celebrating:

  • Make a handy checklist on your smart phone with everything you need to shop for, grouping things by any in person shopping you’ll do at different stores so you can be efficient and save time and gas. Include decorations, gift wrap, gifts, food/entertaining items, and anything you’ll need for holiday travel.

  • Use price checker and coupon web sites or apps. For example, Target’s Cartwheel app offers discounts and electronic coupons on a variety of products. Amazon’s app allows you to scan a barcode and compare prices.

  • If you’re planning to travel during the holidays, hustle to get your tickets as soon as possible. It may be too late to use frequent flyer miles, but if you’re willing to travel on holiday dates, you might finds something that doesn’t require a second mortgage to purchase.

  • For holiday meals and entertaining, watch for sales and specials on non-perishable items. Warehouse and discount stores often have reasonable deals on the essentials you’ll need.


Decorations, Gift Wrap, and Greetings

  • Pull out your holiday decorations and gift wrap. Take an inventory of what you have and what you’d like to add this year.

  • Shop early for those decorations and accessories, exploring cost effective stores and web sites like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Tuesday Morning and Costco. Bear in mind these type of stores are more likely to run out of essentials like Hanukkah candles and the most popular Christmas ornaments. (Speaking from experience last minute shoppers will often be buying their gifts and decor at more expensive stores.)

  • Create fun homemade decorations with your children, explore great ideas and tips on Pinterest and many bloggers.

  • For holiday greetings, consider a fun email with a recent family photo rather than a snail mailed card, or buy photo greeting cards early from discount online sites like Costco, Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.


Gift Giving

  • Plan your gift strategy for who you will buy what kinds of gifts. Think about who you really want or need to give a gift versus unnecessary obligations. Include people you need to tip.

  • Give special thought to what you would like to do for caregivers, teachers, and others who are special to your family or children. First check to find out if there are any customs like a class gift that might affect your plans. I give practical gifts like a check, cash or a gift card to somewhere I know they love (favorite restaurant, where they they shop regularly, etc.). Let’s be honest, teachers might not need things like candles and we usually don’t know their personal taste to that level.

  • Especially if finances are tight, try to focus more on what will give them the most pleasure or be most meaningful to the recipient rather than cost. You might find creative ideas like offering to take care of your close friend’s children for a few hours or teaching a child or friend how to do something they’ve wanted to do (knitting, cooking, baking, art).

  • Explore local craft shows including those hosted by schools and charities, you can often find interesting jewelry, scarves or art at reasonable prices. Just be careful about style since the gift obviously can’t be returned.

  • Consider making part of someone’s gift a donation to their favorite cause or a product that gives a portion of their proceeds to the charity.

  • If you go out shopping (as opposed to online), try to avoid rush times helped by the extended hours so many stores have for the holidays. Plan eating healthfully ahead of time and/or bring healthy snacks with you to avoid the expense and calories of eating tempting fare.


What are your money saving strategies for the holidays? Share your tips in the comments.



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