‘Tis the season for spending, but who has the money or the time? As you deck the halls with boughs of holly, consider these money-saving techniques.
If you come from a big family, including everyone on your holiday list can mean wrapping cheap gifts and not getting anyone what they really want. An alternative to this festively-decorated disappointment is to create a system of drawing names. Only being responsible for one person instead of twenty allows the gift-giver the freedom to really think about what their “Secret Santa” wants and give a meaningful gift.
Shop the sales
Let’s be honest, no one enjoys battling a hectic mall or shopping center two weeks before Christmas. The crowds are crazy, parking lots full and when you really crunch the numbers, the sales aren’t the best deals you could find. Shopping on Black Friday and keeping an eye on the papers for early-bird sales can save a dollar and a few hours of your life.
Get a fake tree
You can save a lot of money and time by investing in a fake tree to decorate your living room. While people look forward to the smell of evergreen in their house over the holidays, not a soul eagerly anticipates vacuuming up seemingly endless pine needles and hauling a sad-looking tree out to the curb in January. A real tree might be a tradition for your family, but if it is not, my advice is to invest in a fake tree which does NOT shed, and can be taken apart and packed away in the attic for the next year. If that glorious pine tree smell is a must for you, Bath and Body Works offers Fresh Balsam-Scented candles.
Make your own decorations
Do you remember that scene in Elf where Buddy decorates “The North Pole” for Santa? Imagine such a spectacle in your own home! Spending an afternoon cutting out snowflakes with family and friends leaves you feeling creative and happy in a house transformed into a winter wonderland. Snowflakes, homemade, edible gingerbread houses and ornaments made from Popsicle sticks can make Christmas and the holidays whimsical, and the decoration prep will bring your family closer together.
Spend time, not money
I know I am not the only teenager without a job, and given the current economy, I can safely assume that I’m not the only person short on money. Instead of trying to find something that doesn’t look like you bought it at the dollar section at Target, agree up front with your friends to spend a holiday afternoon together, giving each other the gift of time. Watch a movie, play a game, sing really off-key Christmas carols – just be together. Who wouldn’t rather have a stress-free afternoon with your friends than another cotton candy body spray or Target gift card?
Instead of hitting the stores and the mall in the days following Christmas, why not take a walk around your neighborhood? Given the unusually chilly December thus far, chances are there will be snow on the ground. Have your group bundle up and head to the nearest park or lake trail. But before you leave for your hike, set up all the makings for hot chocolates, and it couldn’t hurt to have some cookies set out on a tray to enjoy when you return.
Don’t feel the need to feast on Christmas Day. The story books may romanticize a nice family dinner on Christmas Eve or Day, but who wants the hassle of preparing another tremendous meal? (Have we already forgotten the Pilgrim’s feast not but a month ago?) Chances are you have already spent more money than you would have preferred, so a big meal is not really a must this holiday. Maybe make some sandwiches, or a simple pasta dish – either way, multiple courses are not necessary for your holiday happiness.
The holidays are a time of giving, but don’t let big stores have the satisfaction of your hard-earned money. Instead, this holiday season, focus on time with your loved ones and enjoy the little extra money in your wallet.
Virginia Reed is a superb writer and an even better friend. She enjoys unhealthy foods and writing sarcastic articles. Virginia is the Online Editor for the 2011-12 school year and was a Managing Editor for the 2010-11 year but has not forgotten her humble beginnings as a staff writer when she was a wee sophomore. Her goals for the future are to get an A in newspaper and to apply to college in a timely fashion.