The holidays are swiftly approaching. It’s hard to believe we will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving with our little one next week! For many people, this is a stressful time of year. Most of us have more social engagements than usual. On top of that, we are spending more money than we normally do, possibly traveling, and probably not eating the best. Many people find themselves biting their nails over the cost of presents and celebrations. Here is how our family tries to prepare for the holiday season.
Confession: I’m Buddy the Elf
If you’ve seen the Will Ferrell movie Elf, you know Buddy. I am him, he is me. Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year (I’m also a huge fan of Halloween). I simply love the season of giving, family time, baking, colder weather, traditions. It is important to me to be able to spread my cheer each year. However, it is also extremely important we stay within our budget each year. Only a cotton-headed ninny muggins would go into debt buying presents, right?
While we certainly don’t plan to put any gifts on credit this year, many Americans do. In fact, more than 21% of Americans say they will go into debt buying Christmas gifts. About 29% of shoppers say they’ll go into debt but they pay it all off in full with their tax returns. In general, people are willing to go about $1,400 in debt just to celebrate the holidays. For our family, wracking up debt on gifts just simply isn’t in the cards and it shouldn’t ever be, honestly.
Establishing New Traditions
Because Christmas is such an important time of year for me, we want to establish family traditions. One thing we are going to try to do is work in a lot of low-cost or free activities into our holiday traditions. For instance, there is a giant village about an hour from our home that has an amazing Christmas lights display. We will likely pack some food, hot chocolate, and get in the car to see the lights each year. This is little cost to us and a great tradition.
We will also be doing low-cost crafts. This is something I always did with my godchildren before. Each year, we plan a night where all our parent friends can get together with their kids and do some type of holiday craft. I also usually bake cookies for them to decorate. The entire event typically costs less than $50 and is so much fun. It is also a great tradition to keep (kind of like a Friendsgiving of sorts). We’ve also been considering doing things like volunteering and family secret Santa when our little one is a little older too.
Another thing I’ve seen online this year is people hitting the dollar store for their decor. This is great way to switch up themes and color schemes from year to year at a low cost. I’ve seen some folks on TikTok decorate their tree for less than $35. That’s pretty amazing! So, in essence, we are looking to keep costs as low as possible by establishing some low-cost traditions and focus on the reason for the season.
How Do You Prepare for the Holiday Season?
As always, personal finance is personal. If you are someone who takes out a loan every year and it works for you, keep doing what works for you. If you’re like me and start the countdown for Christmas on December 26, saving and planning throughout the year, that’s okay too. You are doing what works best for you and your family.
At the end of the day, it really isn’t about the amount of money you spend. Focus on spending quality time with your family this season. Those are the memories they’ll keep forever anyway. Happy Holidays!
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Amanda Blankenship is the Director of Social Media for District Media. In addition to her duties handling everything social media, she frequently writes for a handful of blogs and loves to share her own personal finance story with others. When she isn’t typing away at her desk, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and dog. During her free time, you’re likely to find her with her nose in a book, hiking, or playing RPG video games.
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