According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend an average of $998 on the holidays in 2021. That’s a pretty big chunk of change! While the idea of dropping almost a thousand dollars on the holidays seems impossible, extra expenses can add up – especially when loved ones are coming over to your house for the holidays.
Here are a few easy ways to save when company comes over this holiday season!
Get creative with decorations
You don’t have to shell out a fortune for new decorations every year. (Besides, we know that those light-up decorations will probably be broken by next Christmas.) Instead, get creative with your family! Popcorn strings, dried orange slices, paper snowflakes, and fresh-cut evergreen branches can be an affordable way to bring holiday cheer indoors without breaking the bank.
Make it a potluck
It can be tempting to let your visions of the perfect holiday dinner overshadow your budget – and inflation this year means that food costs are higher than ever this winter. Split the cost with your guests and ask them to bring a side dish for the meal.
Consider cooking from scratch
If you’ve got a little extra skill in the kitchen, cooking meals from scratch can be a great way to save. However, this depends on what you’re cooking. If your dish is full of specialty ingredients or needs kitchen tools you won’t use again, calculate whether it’s cheaper to buy a premade dish for the store, or whether Grandma’s famous casserole is the most budget-friendly option.
Watch your energy use
Running your oven for hours at a time can be costly for your energy bill, especially if you have lots of dishes to prepare. To save time and money, double up on how many dishes you put in the oven at one time, and resist the urge to peek and let all the heat escape. You can also save on energy use by running the dishwasher rather than washing by hand, and putting timers on your exterior lights so they only run for a limited amount of time.
Keep gift giving small
If you’ve got a large family, buying gifts for everyone can really tax the wallet. To help reduce gift expenses, ask your loved ones about gift giving alternatives like Secret Santa or giving a family gift. A white elephant gift exchange can also be a great way to save and have a laugh with loved ones.
Ultimately, holiday get-togethers are about more than how much you spend. In the years to come, you won’t remember buying that overpriced turkey or that tech gadget that everyone had to have. You’ll remember the people that you spent time with, and the time that you had together. The holidays don’t have to be a time filled with extra anxiety about money. Instead, focus on making memories that last – because that doesn’t cost you anything.
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