10 ways to make the holidays more affordable this year

Holiday season doesn’t have to break your bank. Instead of stressing about gift ideas or overspending, here are a few ways you can cut back your expenses while still having a jolly good time—and supporting local businesses, if you are able.

1. Buy a gift card:

Have a strict budget for gifts? No problem. Buy a gift card with a set amount of money to avoid overspending. Plus, the recipient gets the freedom of choosing how they want to spend the card.

2. Browse the sale racks:

Just because it’s out of season doesn’t mean it’s not stylish. Dig through the sale bins and racks of your loved one’s favorite stores to find affordable and fashionable clothes.

3. Hand make thoughtful gifts:

The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart. Get crafty and make something unique. Brainstorm some of your skills like sewing, painting, drawing, writing, film or photography. Hunt for craft ideas on Pinterest.

4. Give the gift of words:

You don’t have to buy people presents to make them smile. Write a handwritten letter, card or poem to wish your loved ones well. Note: Don’t forget to date the letter in case they want to save it as a keepsake.

5. Host potluck dinners:

Don’t carry the burden of cooking and buying all the dishes for your holiday party. Make it a potluck and have everyone bring a different dish.

6. Set up a group gift exchange:

Instead of feeling pressured to buy each of your friends pricey gifts, play White Elephant or Secret Santa. Assign each friend or family member a person in the group to give a gift to. That way, everyone leaves happy.

7. Make your own wrapping paper:

Recycle old newspapers, magazine pages or other reusable paper to wrap gifts. You can even use kraft paper and draw on it with markers or colored pencils for your own custom wrapping paper.

8. Thrift something special:

Thrift stores are full of hidden gems. Whether you’re looking for a unique mug or vintage T-shirt, carve some time out of your day to browse the racks and shelves at a local secondhand shop. You never know what you might discover.

9. Reuse bags or gift boxes:

If you gently store gift bags and boxes from previous holidays, they can be as good as new for years to come. Shoe boxes and other cardboard boxes can also be reused to package gifts.

10. Volunteer:

Helping another person is priceless. Lend a helping hand at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, youth center or nonprofit organization. If you are able, consider sponsoring a local family and providing gifts for those who can’t buy their own.

This article was originally published in the December 2020 issue of 225 magazine.