Part 2 of the Woman's Day November 17, 2009 issue holiday tips. It had quite a few tips on how to save money around the holidays...I thought I would share some of my favorites but with my spin on them.
I couldn't find a link to the whole article but I did find a link to one little section of tips on 4 ways to host a cheap party. I really love doing a party that just has appetizers and desserts. The other tip about sticking to one drink is a good idea. A friend had a Halloween party this year and she served 2 mixed drinks and that was it...everyone loved it.
I also suggest having a hot-cocoa party. If you want to do a little gift for your guests to take away, make some handmade ornaments, some homemade hot-cocoa mix or give them tins with cookies. Maybe do a Holiday movie night with different flavored popcorns and the hot-cocoa bar. Many possibilities in making a party less expensively.
For gift giving...
They had tip called the "rule of 20" - which was sit down and make a list of everyone you have to give a gift to and then whittle that down to 20 gifts.
Family Gifts - Such as if you have a your whole brother's family why not just do a family gift instead of 6 gifts for every person in the family. I think good family gifts are board games, a classic movie on dvd and a box of microwave popcorn, a popcorn popper with some popcorn and popcorn seasoning (that is good to make at home too), tickets to a play or movies, family memberships to the zoo or a museum, a box of fruit, a basket of different hot cocoas and teas or a basket of hot cocoa (make it homemade) with different add-ins homemade marshmallows, caramel syrup, red-hots or peppermint sticks, candied ginger (look here for more add-in suggestions).
Co-workers - Do you have to give to all your co-workers? Why not just bring in food. Such as holiday cookies and candies or bring in breakfast - make an egg casserole or muffins and fruit salad.
Friends - Get all your friends together for brunch or lunch. And say that being together is your gift to each other. One year all of us got together to go to the local museum and then to lunch and that was our gift to each other quality time together during the holidays. It was much needed during the stress of the season so was a great gifts to have fun and laugh with my favorite girlfriends.
Gift Exchange - pick names, rotate names with your family one yer have Aunt Sue and then the next your brother-in-law or do a secret santa. All these things help spend less money on gits. If you are only buying for cousin Joe instead of 13 family members that is going to cut your holiday shopping list down.
What to give...
The friend with expensive tastes - they suggest if the friend likes designer things - do a key chain or wallet. One year I did exactly that I gave a friend a key chain by her favorite designer. During the holidays they usually put those things on sale too.
The friend who is struggling - I really like what they suggested in the magazine...if it is a family that is struggling maybe pay for soccer or dance so their kids so that don't lose those activities. Or ofter to babysit. When I lived in Ohio, I had a friend really struggling and I told her I was coming to pamper her. I told her I would be making dinner while she soaked her feet and read a novel. That way I brought over bags of groceries. Much more then was needed for dinner. And stocked her fridge and pantry. The dinner I made - made plenty of left overs that I froze so she could take to lunch or have for dinner on busy nights. She also got to just sit in a chair and relax for a bit. And indulge in some pampering which when you are struggling that is something that doesn't happen often. I also have done gift certificates for this at places that I know they can get staples such as I have given gas gift cards or gift cards for Target or Walmart knowing they could get groceries if needed with it. Because if they are struggling those things are needed although I would love to give them something more personal sometimes what is needed is more meaningful.
The friend who has everything - They suggest looking at their daily life - do they go to coffee everyday? do they use put out fresh flowers weekly? do they listen to music on their way home from work? Use those things to brainstorm....maybe a travel mug with a gift certificate to their favorite coffee place, a new vase with flowers or a cd you think they would like. In The Art of Giving book they suggest homemade things - cookies, flavored vinegars and oils for cooking, infused liquors, shoe bags, coasters, sachets, candles, soaps and bath salts. And that is usually what I go for when the person has everything or the person is hard to buy for also.
The person who never likes anything - WD suggests giving the person what they already like...a bottle of wine they like, a perfume they like, music from an artist they like and so on.
Mom and Dad - WD suggests hobby gifts. Ask a person who already does that hobby what they really liked as a gift. The hard thing for me on this one is my parents really don't have hobbies. Their free time is spent with their church and family. So I usually look to that category above people who have everything or are hard to buy for. I do think it is a good idea though to go to hobbies for that person that has everything too. Maybe give that knitter a really extravagant yarn (ask another knitter what to get) or a walker might really like certain water bottle.
How do you save money at the holidays? What are you favorite gift giving ideas?