If like us you’ve spent your spare cash on fabulous holiday attire and you’re still not prepared for that pesky gift-giving and entertaining portion of the holidays, never fear. We realize the big day is tomorrow, but since holiday festivities often spread through the days between Christmas and New Years, we’ve got some tips to help you streamline your last-minute preparations, shorten your gift list, and save you some serious green. You might even have enough leftover for the finishing touches on that outfit (the perfect cocktail ring or statement necklace, perhaps?)
1. Embrace tradition
A friend in high school told me that during austere times her family decorated a single twig with a few strands of tinsel instead of buying a tree. I’m ashamed to admit my friends and I thought this was hilarious. But now I wonder if they may have been on to something. With the economy and bank balances still pitiful, perhaps it’s time for a thrifty little Christmas. Whether it’s a twig tree or an ornament that belonged to your great, great someone or other, every family has traditions. Beyond sentiment, celebrating the importance of the most ridiculous custom or decoration or can save you the expense and effort of coming up with new ones.
2. Edit family time
Christmas is about peace, love, joy and family, even if some of the members of yours don’t inspire any of those sentiments. We suggest you visit (and invite) only the family you enjoy. Not only will you limit your gift-giving responsibilities, you might also save your sanity.
3. Nix the gifts
Seriously – forget them. Gift giving is often fraught with the stress of choosing the right thing, spending enough, not spending too much, and predicting who will be giving to you so you’ll know to whom you need to give. Reduce anxiety by suggesting you and your loved ones share a drink a drink or exchange cards. They will likely be relieved.
4. Get crafty
Martha is a powerful woman for a reason. Investing the time it takes to painstakingly cut out snowflakes, knit stockings and bedazzle ornaments will save you cash. Getting crafty might be daunting, but most projects require more commitment and patience than actual skill or training — and we predict the end result will garner serious props.
5. Frugalize your feast
No one needs to know. Let everyone else spend their whole paycheck at Whole Foods or Bi-Rite. Sure, sometimes you need your orange cardamom ice cream and olive oil imported from Tuscany. But when it comes to feeding a big group, you can create a perfectly respectable turkey, stuffing, potatoes and the works for much less by shopping at Safeway or Costco — you can even find organic options — for much less. There’s also no shame in asking people to contribute. During the holidays, a pot luck is your friend.
There you have it. Follow these five easy steps and Christmas day will be a riotous affair without sinking you deeper into the red (or giving you a red face). Whatever you do and however you spend it, have a very Merry Christmas.