I was already considering how to handle the holidays with my children and their “gotta haves” from Santa when the financial debacle hit. We don’t go as overboard as some people do, but this year it seems we should scale back to make sure we continue to have money to fall back on.
Instead of everyone feeling deprived, I want to use this holiday season to bring our family time into focus. I want my family to find other things to do besides shopping. This year I’m going to make our holiday season event-centered and, of course, low cost.
Our community has a variety of volunteer opportunities, from working at the homeless shelter to reading to small children. Scour the newspaper and the Internet to find something the family will enjoy. It could be a great lesson in helping those less fortunate.
Visit friends and relatives
Is your family across the country and it’s just too expensive to fly, much less rent a car, eat at restaurants, and stay in a motel? If you and your relatives have a high-speed Internet connection, fire up your computers’ cameras and talk face-to-face. It’s a great chance to see the family across the country more often and share the latest news.
The holidays are also the time to get together with loved ones who live near your home. If you’re usually out of town during the holidays, invite people over whom you usually don’t see until after the first of the year. What a great opportunity to reconnect!
Scale down the party
Are you giving a party this holiday season? Make it a potluck to cut costs. Create a theme and advise your guests what to bring. One of the best holiday parties I went to was a chocolate potluck. Whatever you choose, it’s always a treat to taste other people’s creations and always a pleasure to provide a place for people to visit during this happy time of year.
There are some truly lovely light displays in our neck of the woods, and it’s worth a quick trip around town to view the creations. One of our local parks also lights up its garden, creating animals and other shapes in the foliage. The park host serves cider and cookies. Best of all, it’s free!
Visit Museums, Aquariums
Are the kids home from school? This is a golden opportunity to visit the museums and aquariums that were missed during the summer. They may even have special hours – maybe special rates? – during the holiday break to encourage more people to visit them.
Make your gifts
Buying the supplies to make a gift can be as expensive as buying one off the shelf, but shop the sales! Getting a handmade gift is always a treat. Consider a baking project with the kids and wrap up the fresh bread and cookies to give away to friends and neighbors.
Movie and popcorn
What could be better on a cold day than renting a few movies, popping some popcorn and snuggling with your family? We use a movie vending machine, called Redbox, at our grocery store that only charges $1 per night per movie – if we haven’t found what we want at the library.
The Big Day
What about Christmas morning? Our family will certainly scale down the presents, but add several events to make the day special. Cooking together is always fun: baking the traditional coffee cake breakfast together and preparing the dinner. I think we will also add some movie time and a stroll around the neighborhood.
I hope that our added activities this holiday season will continue through the rest of the year. Whatever you choose, may your holidays be happy and your family close.
Image courtesy of annia316