2010 Holidays on a Budget: Making Them Special

December 2010:

Tara Aronson, Lifestyle Expert

Making the Holidays Special on a Budget 2010 View Video on Vimeo.

It’s the most wonderful time of year but now more than ever it can also be a frustrating time financially with the economy weighing heavy on everyone’s mind. But there’s no need to cancel Christmas or your holiday spirit because you can still make the holiday season special — even on a shoestring. Believe it or not, Gallup’s initial poll of Americans’ 2010 Christmas spending intentions finds consumers planning to spend an average of $715 on gifts.  But budget minded elves can save $325 by harnessing Santa’s secret to making the holidays memorable even when money is tight.  You just have to be creative – from planning holiday parties to giving great gifts that work – you can plan a Christmas that’s 50% off the projected spending amount and still have lots of great memories to last a lifetime.  Lifestyle Expert, Tara Aronson has some tips to make the holidays memorable when money is tight.

Host a Holiday party for under $25.  You can definitely host a holiday party for under $25.  It’s simple and easy to do with an old-fashioned pitch-in or potluck themed party where everyone brings a dish.  Your guests supply great hors d’oeuvres, casseroles or holiday cookies and you provide the party space and drinks – sodas, punch or even some of the budget wine that’s available.

New Ways to Save Online
The average Christmas gift budget for 2010 is $715 and you can save 50% of that budget with one simple idea.  Instead of buying a gift for everyone in your family or circle of friends, use the old fashioned Secret Santa idea and draw one name so you buy one gift instead of ten or more.  This is a great way to save and everyone will appreciate the savings.  Just in case you want to get a little personalized something for everyone on your list, here’s a new spin on an old fashioned gift giving idea that saves time and money.

At PearTreeGreetings.com, you can craft personalized cards and gifts. There are hundreds of designs and colors to choose from in a price range from $.85 to $1.25 per card.  You can also design personal stationery that’s a unique and personal gift for anyone on your list.  It’s easy to upload your photos, write personal greetings, and your cards arrive within a few business days printed on beautiful thick card stock that’s 100% post-consumer recycled.  The unique and personalized designs make a cherished memorable gift.

Now this is one of my favorite ways to save money online. At Pig.com, you can earn up to 15% cash-back on purchases and $5 will be added to your online Piggy Bank just for signing up.  This website gives you cash back on purchases made at 1,000 of the most popular online stores and there’s no limit to the amount you can earn. Once at least $10 accumulates in your piggy banks, you can cash out and collect real dollars.  You can also earn $5 just by referring other friends and family to the website.

Christmas Gifts that Don’t Cost a Dime.  You know if your budget is super tight one of the most priceless gifts you can give is the gift of time.  Classic gift ideas that won’t cost a dime are coupons for the gifts of “time” like “5 hours of Babysitting” – “Movie Night @ Home” – “One Hand Car Wash for Dad” or even a “Day at the Museum.”  Also, check out Craigslist.com under FREE and who knows what you might find.

Give More.  Spend Less.  Get Family & Friends Involved in Spirit of Giving and New Traditions. Make those Homemade or Personalized Christmas Cards and make it a family affair.  Also, the whole family can get into the spirit of giving by adopting a charity each year like the Heifer organization.  $20 buys a Gift of Chicks and your gift will help provide a family in need with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks that will lay 200 eggs a year – a steady source of nutrition and income for a third world family.  Also, start a new tradition of volunteering during the holidays – this could be volunteering to help serve Christmas dinner at the local mission, caroling at a nursing home, or assisting with pet adoptions.  Also, designate a Make Room for Santa Day and have the kids clean out closets of old clothes & toys that are then donated to a local mission or homeless shelter.  Finally, create an ornament for the tree for each family member (perhaps a child’s school picture) and don’t forget the pets.  This ornament collection grows throughout the years.

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