It’s heading toward the end of the year. You’ve got work deadlines, you’ve got holiday parties to plan and attend, you’ve got decorations to buy and gifts to buy and wrap. With so much stress that people are under at the holidays, there’s no reason to add money woes to the mix. You can stay within your budget and still enjoy yourself.
The easiest way to save on the menu is to ask others to bring their favorite side dishes and desserts. If you’re hosting, it is typically assumed that you will provide the main dish, but it’s absolutely acceptable to ask others to contribute. In these economic times, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has not been affected. Maybe Cousin Patty makes the best sweet potato pie and Aunt Ingrid makes the best latkes. Use that to your advantage. Granted, it will take a bit more planning to make sure you don’t end up with too many pumpkin pies, but well worth the effort when you realize that you haven’t spent three days on food prep and have not only given yourself a break, but your wallet as well. Doling out cooking duties not only takes the stress off of your plate, but also gives more time for everyone to socialize.
Something fun that tends to be a big hit with people who are more artistically inclined is to have a party where you and your friends and/or family make decorations. Have some drinks and hors d'oeuvres and let your imaginations run wild. You can find supplies at most any craft store and, once the painted ornaments, wreaths, clay ornaments, candle holders, centerpieces and other creations are finished, you can pack them up and use them the following year. It also builds a sense of camaraderie among you as you create together. Some craft stores even offer classes, which a group can attend if you so desire.
Most adults we know have everything they need. They may not have every gizmo or gadget that their heart desires, but they have what they need. For that reason, many extended families draw names and purchase a gift for the person whose name is drawn only. After all, the holidays are about togetherness and the spirit of the season, not the stuff you get. Different rules apply and can be adjusted to your family’s needs. Many consider that children won’t understand and so those under 18 are exempt from the draw and receive gifts as usual. So, you may end up still shopping for the kids, but you don’t have to shop for twenty cousins that your budget may not quite allow for.