It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year! That is, except for your budget – the holidays can drain your wallet faster than you can say “elf on the shelf.” Read on for our money-saving tips on Christmas gifting and decorating.
Determine your holiday budget.
A good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 1.5% of your salary on the holidays. This includes the cost of gifts, decorations, donations, travel and a holiday card if you send one. A holiday budget calculator can help you plan for expenses, just be sure to track your spending too. Since the largest dollar expense of the holidays is presents, it’s ideal to agree to a dollar limit with friends and family. This is your chance to lower the stakes and keep your spending to a minimum. Once your budget is set and you have an idea of what to spend, it’s time to start gifting.
Think DIY for gifts.
Aside from member benefits and shopping the sales, your best bet to save money is making your own gifts. Your friends and family will love a tasteful, personalized gift made by yours truly! Here are some of our favorites:
- Photo candles. Recreate old memories with your loved ones with an illuminated photo gift.
- Minibar in a jar. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Christmas jars are the best. Don’t forget to add a bow!
- Custom coasters. This one requires some heavy equipment, but if you’ve got it available, these gorgeous coasters are thoughtful and seriously impressive.
- Man bouquet. Guys like nice things too, especially when they come stocked with the necessities: snacks, socks and scratch tickets…
- Baked goods. If you’ve got any chops in the kitchen, these are the perfect hostess gift or supplement to any present. This decadent jalepeno jelly is a definite crowd pleaser served with crackers and you can change the color with your selection of red or green peppers.
Feeling festive? Here’s how you can deck the halls for less.
Holiday decor can be pricey, especially for something you’ll only use 1 month of the year. Spread the holiday cheer in your home for less with these easy, budget-savvy ideas:
- Christmas lights. This an affordable way to liven up your home without overspending. You can string them up around your bed, windows and entryway, or this Christmas Light Tree is surprisingly fancy.
- Nature’s bounty. The fun part about Christmas is there’s no real “rules” to holiday decor. Pine cones, leaves or greenery from the outdoors are free if you can find them. Just toss some in a jar or a pretty bowl and – voila – a festive centerpiece.
- Handmade decor. Homemade Christmas projects are fun and cost-effective. Plus, what else are you going to do if you’re living where it’s freezing out in December? Give these Christmas decor projects a try.
- Christmas aromas. It’s hard to resist a gingerbread-scented candle, but they’re often pricey. Instead, this easy stovetop potpourri calls for simple ingredients like orange peels and spices from your cabinet to warm your home with holiday fragrance.
- Make your 2018 Christmas planning easier by stocking up on decor the day after Christmas this year. If you have some storage space, it’s the perfect time to purchase high-ticket items while they’re on sale.
As always, it’s the thought that counts. Remember to enjoy your time with loved ones over the holidays, and the eggnog while it’s in season. Merry Christmas from all of us at iHELP Student Loans!