How to Prevent Holiday Overspending

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In years past, we have struggled with overspending for gift-giving holidays. We have a large list of family and friends that we give gifts to each year, and we always want the gifts to be personalized for each recipient. Some family members may have long wish lists of items. However much we want to buy every item on every list, we have slowly learned over the years that rushing out to purchase popular, expensive items at big-box stores leaves us with little room in our holiday budget. To combat this annual overspending, we have implemented a simple strategy: buy less.

Instead, we spend much of the year crafting and thrifting. For birthdays, we cook special meals or bake favorite treats. One of our favorite traditions that we have recently adopted includes a thrifted Swedish candle ring that we also light on special occasions. Rather than accumulating a large amount of items, we focus instead on creating lasting memories and gifting memory-making moments. Follow some of these easy tips to check overspending in your own holiday budget:

  • Crafting: Share skills like knitting and crocheting with loved ones, especially during gift-giving holidays. One of the best presents I have ever received is a crocheted sweater made with all of my favorite colors. I know how much care and thought went into the making of the sweater and always feel loved when wearing it because of that great effort.
  • Thrifting: Check out your local thrift and consignment stores for any items that you do intend to buy before purchasing them at full price. You will be surprised at how many gift components can be thrifted and combined to create a truly unique present for loved ones. Our local thrift store often sells beautiful baskets for less than $1.00. Depending on the interests of the recipient, other items can be added to a thrifted basket to make a personalized gift. Baking baskets filled with cook books, aprons, tea towels, and cookie cutters are always a big hit, but a gardening basket or hobby basket would be just as easy to pull together from thrifted items.
  • Cooking and Baking: Find out what each friend or family member loves. Everyone has a favorite meal or baked good, and they love to receive these gifts on special occasions and holidays. The best part? Consumable gifts leave less clutter behind after the occasion or holiday. We love the “giving plate” tradition and fill one up every year.
  • Memory-Making: This is a big one for us. We love to gift passes to places that we know a friend or family member will love. Annual passes often end up being more cost-effective for large families, especially if visiting frequently.
  • “Coupons”: This is an easy one. Make and print out “coupons” on card stock that align with the needs or wants of the recipient of the gift. If you play the guitar and a family member wants to learn, gift them a guitar lesson coupon. We have gifted coupons for music lessons, knitting lessons, and a homemade movie night or pizza party. Children especially love receiving these coupons and love spending quality time together even more.

Gifting is so personal, but we hope these ideas give you a starting point when planning your holiday budgets and bring you closer to your spending goals. Although some spending is unavoidable, these practices have helped us drastically curb our holiday overspending. For us, making memories now takes precedence over endless lists of material possessions.

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