Tis the season for fun, merriness, good food, gift giving and… spending. While the holidays are truly my favourite time of the year, it’s also the most expensive. It seems to me that no matter how much I plan and budget - unexpected costs just happen and they add up… fast. While I’ve resolved myself to this reality, I have come up with some ways to keep costs down. In recent years these simple tips have actually kept my overall Christmas spending as close to my budget as I think I’m ever going to get.
Below are ten ways you can save big during the holidays. Note that all suggestions are best put into action as soon you can!
Trade services and product - While this doesn't apply to everyone, if you can trade a service (hair styling, nails, etc) with someone else that offers something comparable, you can put these savings toward other holiday expenses. The same is true for product. If you know someone with whom you can trade gifting options (ie, handmade items, Scentsy, Avon etc.) you can avoid having to shell out money on at least a few presents. Win/win!
Exchange Babysitting - Keep up with your holiday social commitments while also keeping the associated cost down by exchanging babysitting with a friend or family member. Be sure to coordinate availability early on!
Consider Buying Used Toys - Save big by purchasing gently used toys for Christmas presents. This is one I wish I had caught onto when my kids were really little because honestly, they don’t know the difference. Even with older kids, you can find great deals on used games, sports gear etc. which all make for wonderful gifts and keep your wallet a bit more full.
Sell Unwanted Items - Free up space and make money! Take a couple of hours and do a sweep through of toys, books, games, etc. List your unwanted items on your local Buy & Sell and use the cash toward holiday expenses. Give yourself a timeline after which give away what hasn’t sold. This will also help others to afford things at a lower cost or for free.
Bake Exchange - This is a great way to keep costs down, save time and have a variety of baked goods on hand! Instructions are simple. Get a group of friends and or family together, have everyone sign-up for one or two baked goods that they are responsible for making enough of for everyone to have a batch. Get all participants to exchange on a set date. Despite a larger quantity, only having to buy ingredients for one or two recipes will overall keep expenses down.
Hosting - When entertaining over the holidays opt for potluck and/or don’t be shy to ask guests to bring certain items.
Stay on Top of Sales - I’m sure you read my last blog post and already have your holiday gift list ready to go (wink). From here, eliminate spending more than necessary by staying on top of sales. Obvious times to take advantage of lower prices are during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but you can also score amazing deals by keeping up with sites like Smart Canucks, you can even find local Facebook groups that members will post sales to and Rakuten (formerly E-bates) is a great option for receiving money back from online purchases.
Share Gift Costs - Consider saving money and giving bigger by having family members pitch in on gifts. Everyone saves a bit, shopping is made simple and the recipient will get a present that is sure to please.
Draw Names or Hold Off on Extended Family Gifting - Some families buy for everyone and this might be part of the excitement and tradition of the holidays, but it does add up. It can also mean buying for the sake of just buying when you’re purchasing for so many. Some easy ways to curb cost and gift with more intent is to consider making homemade gifts (Pinterest is definitely an amazing resource for ideas). Another way to curb spending is to propose either drawing names for gifting or scrap the whole thing (and maybe just have a party?!). While it can feel a bit Grinch-y to be the one to suggest trimming back on the presents, you’re likely not the only who would appreciate it - so speak up!
Ask for discount rates - When purchasing from an independent retailer or business owner, ask if they offer a discount rate if you buy multiple. For example, when buying handmade goods - many artisans would be happy to offer a price reduction if you are purchasing several items. This is also true for services. I have heard of family members all purchasing gift certificates from the same service provider, like a hairstylist or photographer and based on quantity, received a group discount. This tip is most effective when you plan in advance.
As always, we’re very keen to hear from you! What are some things you do to keep holiday costs down? Please leave your suggestion(s) as a comment.