Seasons greetings! We are in the midst of the holiday season once again, and like every year, certain questions and concerns cross my mind: How can I save money and still give generously? How can I minimize my impact on the environment? Perhaps these questions have also crossed your mind! I hope these ideas help alleviate your worry so you can enjoy the time with family and friends, which are the most important parts of the holidays. You can have joy without hurting your bank account or the environment!
- Make list of all your gift recipients and what you plan to give them, as well as a budget per person. Carry the list with you in your wallet and refer to it before buying gifts so you don't end up with extra gifts for someone or spending too much money.
- Save tissue paper and gift bags that are still in good condition to reuse next year.
- Make your own decorations.
- Store decorations properly to avoid damage during storage. Use old newspapers or tissue paper to wrap fragile ornaments. If you are a frequent Amazon Prime shopper, save packing materials from your packages, like bubble wrap and those air cushions that look like little pillows attached together.
- Have a gift wrapping party with friends so you can share gift wrap and ribbon without having to buy more. Exchanging wrapping paper allows you to have variety without having to buy (and store) more.
- Upcycle household trash into festive decor:
- Before shopping for decorations and gift wrap, create an inventory of what you have and need to avoid buying more of what you already have.
- Shop for holiday decorations and gifts during sales or with coupons. Start looking for sales in mid-November and especially on Black Friday. JoAnns and Michaels will have coupons and doorbuster sales, and Target will also have sales.
- Stock up on decorations, ribbons, wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, and even household items during after-Christmas sales. Keep an eye out for useful things like plastic wrap, Ziploc bags, facial tissues, air freshener, snacks, and more. Stores like Target will have a clearance on everything with Christmas images on it. Check the backs of aisles for these clearance items.
- Have potluck holiday parties and encourage guests to bring an extra tupperware to bring home leftovers. This will cut down the time you personally have to spend preparing food, and it will reduce waste of extra food.
- Around the holidays, many gifts are given, and unfortunately, some of them aren’t things you want or need. Donate extra goodies or clothes to your local Goodwill or homeless shelter. Also, as you buy things on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it’s a good time to go through your closet and sort out unneeded items.
- Find free activities for your family
- Include volunteer ideas like sorting and delivering canned goods.
- Walk or drive past decorated homes.
- Have an in-home movie night with peppermint hot chocolate (use candy canes) and popcorn. Try a holiday favorite like “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” “Muppet Christmas Carol,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the live-action one but also the 1966 cartoon), and “Christmas with the Kranks.” Don’t forget the old classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the 1947 “Miracle on 34th Street.” Or try a lesser-known classic like “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945) or “We’re No Angels” (1955).
- Visit different churches during their holiday or Christmas Eve services. My mom likes to look in the newspaper for different churches’ services, and my family has enjoyed the variety they have to offer. Our favorite is service is a the Church of Christ Scientist, and features sing-along caroling, a candlelight prayer for world peace, and a petting zoo. We are not members of that church but we’ve attended their lovely Christmas Eve service for several years now! It’s fun to try new things.
- Use half the sugar recommended in recipes (healthier and makes your supply last longer).