This holiday season is different than any other and the ongoing pandemic is likely taking its toll on your finances, but this does not mean you can't still celebrate the season in style.
The experts share budget-friendly tips for decorating, gifts, meals, and activities with CNN that still bring out the holiday cheer while keeping your finances in mind!
Decorating: Try using found items and objects around the house (with a similar color scheme) to create festive centerpieces and table decors. Gather your reds, greens, whites, blues, silvers, and golds, and see what you can put together using 1 color. Also, turn to nature -- which is free and abundant -- to help create table arrangement, wreaths, and garland. Another expert pro-tip: most stores that sell Christmas trees offer free clippings which can be used in a variety of ways around the house. Also, real Christmas trees can cost upwards of 100 dollars, so think outside of the box (with craft items you might already have) and decorate your home with twinkle lights, repurposed ribbons, paper snowflakes, and paper chains to enhance your home's decor without spending a ton on decorations.
Gifts: If money is tight this season and you are worried about gifts, remember, "Everybody doesn't need a gift; everybody doesn't want a gift... Don't get all upset because you can't afford to buy gifts for everybody, because the purpose of Christmas is just to let each other know how much you care about each other, bargain expert Judy Woodward Bates tells CNN. To save money when it comes to gifts try:
- Sending e-cards instead of paper cards
- Don't be afraid to shop at thrift, bargain, and dollar stores for certain items
- Offer your time as a gift and provide someone with a service, errand, or do a task
- Make gifts like candles, food, baked goods, soaps, photo albums, personalized coupon books to redeem later in the year
- For kids, the experts suggest limiting gifts to just 4 items in these categories: "something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read"
- When it comes to wrapping: remember you can save money using brown paper or paper bags (which you can decorate) and old holidays cards can be cut and used as gift tags
Meals: When cooking, the experts suggest cooking from scratch, and skipping prepared foods, can drastically help you save money on your holiday meals. Also, check out your local discount grocery store, which will likely have great prices on snacks, boxed dessert mixes, frozen and canned foods, and candy.
Holiday activities: 2020 has drastically changed what is safe to do this season, but that should not mean all of your holiday fun needs to stop. Some of our favorite low-cost (or no cost) holiday activities from the experts include:
- Virtual get-togethers with extended family and close friends
- Board games nights and holiday movie nights
- Reading holiday stories or singing songs with your family, which can be done remotely with other households
- Baking together on Christmas Eve or Christmas
- Attending a virtual religious service
- Holiday crafting with your family to make things like a family cookbook, photo albums, personalized 2021 calendars, and decorations
- Enjoying the snow if available in your area!