Surviving Christmas was once just about making it through the crazy, hectic shopping season and dealing with family that you only see once a year. However, surviving Christmas during a recession can be much more stressful but if you following these tips for surviving Christmas you will enjoy the holidays and stick to your budget at the same time.
1. Surviving Christmas during a recession may mean cutting your gift list. Consider baking Christmas cookies and giving to teachers, neighbors and coworkers rather than purchasing gifts for each person. Purchase inexpensive containers from your local dollar store and add a bow.
2. Being creative with Christmas wrapping paper can save money during a recession. Wrapping paper and boxes can be very expensive but by shopping at discount stores and using alternative methods to wrap gifts, you can save money. Rather than using expensive Christmas wrapping paper, use plain butcher paper and allow children to decorate with stamps, stickers or drawings. Our neighbors use the comics from the newspaper and brown butcher paper with colorful yarn for their gifts to save money.
3. Consider swapping babysitting services with friends as Christmas gifts this year. Take a weekend and keep your friends’ kids so they can enjoy a nice weekend of peace and quiet. If couples do not have friends, consider going to dinner and to an event together rather than exchanging gifts. You can enjoy each other’s company and an evening out as your gift.
4. Surviving Christmas during difficult economic times may mean cutting your food budget during the holidays. Consider starting a new tradition this year for Christmas dinner – – have pasta or another more economical dish rather than a tradition turkey and ham dinner. One year we decided to allow each member of the family choose their favorite “cheap” dish for dinner and had a family potluck meal – – it was fun to see what everyone chose as their favorite dish.
5. Entertainment during the holidays can be a costly part of your Christmas budget. However, if you are willing to try new things and do a little planning, you can save money and still enjoy all the excitement of the holidays. Borrow a truck, fill it with hay and blankets and ride through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot chocolate. Check the schedules for local Christmas parades to attend. Choose a night, invite friends and have a Christmas movie marathon. The idea is to spend time with family and friends during the holidays – think of ways to do this that does not cost money.
6. Many families bake during the holidays but during a recession it may be difficult to bake everything you normally would for Christmas. Organize a cookie swap with several families. Each family brings a dozen cookies (or other small treats) per person attending the party – – we try to keep it to ten women. You bring ten dozen of the same cookies but leave with ten dozen different cookies. It is much cheaper to purchase the ingredients to bake one item rather than to bake dozens of different items. Oriental Trading even has cookie exchange kits that make this event fun and eays.
7. Surviving Christmas during a recession is difficult when you have small children expecting presents from Santa. Get together with other parents and arrange to have a toy swap. Children outgrow toys often before the toys are worn out. This is an excellent way to save money during a recession. You should set some simple rules as to the condition and age of the toys. If a toy swap is not possible, shop at yard and garage sales for bargains on toys.
8. I am not a huge fan of email cards even though I use email, text messaging and instant messaging constantly. I prefer to send greeting cards the old-fashioned way – the good old United States Post Office. However, during a recession families are finding their budgets stretched to the breaking point. Christmas cards are very expensive and some even require extra postage due to the size and weight. Therefore, I am considering using email greeting cards this season to save money. Several online websites such as 123greetings.com and E-cards.com offer a great selection of online Christmas cards.
9. Decorating is another big expense during the holidays. Get back to nature (and save some money) buy using evergreens, pinecones, berries and other items from your yard to decorate your home this Christmas. Set an afternoon aside to make Christmas decorations with your children – – paper snowflakes to hang from the ceiling, cutouts of Christmas trees, stars, angels and ornaments adorned with glitter and string popcorn for the tree. Paper chains are wonderful for hanging around a doorway to decorate.
10. If you have a large family with many siblings, agree to only purchase gifts for the children rather than the adults. Otherwise, if you want to include everyone in the gift giving, draw numbers so that everyone is shopping for only one person. With my mother’s large extended family, we group the women, men, teens and children together for the drawing.