Thrifty Thursday: Keeping the Holidays Simple

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Thanks to Utah Deal Diva for passing along these Thrifty tips!
Each year, as our family grows, it seems like our holiday season gets busier and busier. The number of activities and events is overwhelming and rather than feeling festive, I feel stressed. My kid’s gift list is getting longer while our budget seems to be shrinking, and I feel a strong desire to just get back to the basics.
For this week’s edition of Thrifty Thursday, I’d like to offer a few ideas on how to simplify this holiday season. I hope to inspire you all to maintain a nice balance in being festive and celebrating the holidays, while not breaking your budget.

1. Don’t go Overboard…
with gifts. :: Have you noticed the constant barrage of “Door Buster” Deals and incredible sales this year? It’s no secret that stores are trying to lure you in with the promise of low prices. Create a gift budget and stick to it. In my opinion, small, meaningful gifts are far more appreciated than the latest electronic gadget. Don’t let other’s expectations drive your spending! Think of where your family is right now financially, what goals you have in mind for the future, and base your budget off that. In year’s past, some of my most cherished gifts have been thoughtful cards and notes from others.
with decorations. :: I’m sure most of us have seen the picture above! I really got a kick out of it. Just because the Jones’ have 4 inflatable reindeer on their lawn doesn’t mean you have to follow suite! Some families really enjoy decorating the inside and outside of their homes, but if you can’t afford the items themselves, or the increase in your electric bill, go for a more modest approach to decorating.
I remember a few years ago my husband I were dead set on getting a real Christmas tree. I envisioned how beautiful it would look in my front room, the smell that would permeate our home and how much my my little boy would enjoy a real tree in the house. However, all those thoughts disappeared when we saw the price tag on real trees! We opted for a much less expensive, Charlie Brown-like tree that, to be honest, looked terrible! However thinking of that awful tree still makes me smile and I’m glad we didn’t over-extend our budget.

2. Enjoy the small things.
It really is the small things that produce the most memories each holiday season. Our family enjoys playing in the snow {making snow ice cream!}, pulling out a board game or making cookies together. The possibilities are endless! Here are a few resources that might help you out:

3. Remember that popular traditions aren’t always necessities.

Santa, baby :: Right after my son was born I took him to see Santa at the mall. The place was a zoo! All the lights and noise made him upset and our $25 picture turned into a memory I’d rather forget! Since then, I decided that even though it’s a “popular tradition,” if it doesn’t work for my family, then I’ll opt out. I do ask my kids if they’d like to go see Santa, and if they do, there are a variety of places where we can see Santa for free.

To Card, or not to Card? :: This year, we’ve been privileged to have a slew of free or very inexpensive holiday card offers. {The offer from SeeHere is actually still valid! Get 50 cards for only $3.19!} However, if sending a card out just isn’t your thing, or if your family can’t manage the cost of cards and postage, then scratch it from your list! Send an e-card instead, or do a blog post on your family blog with pictures and family updates.

4. Serve Others

I can’t think of any other activity that requires minimal time, effort, or money that yields greater rewards. Incorporating service into your family’s annual holiday traditions not only helps others, but teaches kids that this season isn’t all about gifts under the Christmas tree.

There are a variety of ways to give, but my favorite this time of year is to go through my food storage and pick out several items to donate to local food banks. I hope each of us is able to celebrate this holiday season with a spirit of simplicity in mind!

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