This is a guest post from the lovely, Sarah Ann Noel. Hope you’re having a great holiday week! – Anna
When we found out we were moving to NYC, I decided to seriously downgrade and purge most of our belongings. I managed to turn off sentimentalism (which normally runs thick through my blood), and I really did a number on our collection of stuff. Of course, now it’s Christmastime and I’m at my most nostalgic, realizing that sometimes an emotional attachment isn’t so bad! What I left of Christmas knick-knacks seems like sparse decor for even a tiny Brooklyn apartment! So I quickly conjured up what this non-crafty mama could DIY to add some holiday cheer to our place. Below are the decorations that we’ve made for our home, and these also are great inexpensive crafts to make with kids during the loooooong holiday break!
8 Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Crafts (& Decorations) to Keep the Kids Busy…
This post is part of my ongoing collaboration with Kmart. – Anna
I’ve really been enjoying the Christmas season this year despite it being unseasonably warm this year here in Denver. So, I’ve been staying up late at night to put on Christmas music, bake, and pretend its snowing outside. Baked goods are such an inexpensive little gift to give so I’m planning on giving the goodies to neighbors and friends. I’ll put a few treats in a plastic baggie, tie some yarn around the top, print out some holiday tags, write a little note, and call it good.
Last year Baby Henry was just about 2 months around this time but this year he’s old enough to really enjoy all the lights and wrapping paper. We’ve kept our decorations pretty simple because we knew his crabby little baby hands would have a hard time resisting low ornaments on a tree so we went with a sweet, mini tabletop tree, wrapped a bunch of colorful lights around it, and filled it up with all of our “vintage” macaroni and toilet paper roll ornaments from me and Aaron’s childhoods.
Decorating for the holidays is a tradition like none other—from decking the halls to trimming the tree—every family has its own unique way of getting their home ready for the season.
Gift giving can so easily get out of hand. People often want (or feel obligated) to give more than what they really can actually afford. In some families, gift giving becomes sooo overblown because people end up feeling guilty or frustrated they can’t spend what others can. Don’t worry about them. You do you. While Christmas is the season of giving, you should never give more than you have. It truly is the thought that counts… even if you feel pressured to spend a certain amount. Make an effort to find ways to reduce your spending, and stress, by trying to focus on enjoying the togetherness of family and friends. And getting that to be enough.
You can successfully cut down on your holiday gift giving without being labeled a Scrooge by…
Checking Your List Twice.If you have a traditional gift list, take it out and review it carefully. You may be surprised to learn just how many people you buy gifts for each year. If you don’t have an official list, now is the time to make one. Be honest about writing down each and every person that you plan on buying gifts for. Then, take the time to review it carefully. Some people you may be able to talk to (like siblings, for example), and just ask them if you can skip the gift exchange this year. My sister, Kelly, is on a Spending Fast, as you know, and she had this conversation with all of us. Also, my husband, has this arrangement with his siblings every year, and it works out great.
Making Christmas for the kids. As a family, make the suggestion that adults should only buy gifts for the kids of the family. Set the kid age limit from 0 to 18 or 21 so everyone is on the same page.
Deciding on an adult name swap. If your family isn’t happy with just the kids getting something to unwrap Christmas morning, agree to name swap among the adults. Each adult’s name gets put into a hat and drawn by the other adults. Or, if you’re all in different states one person will be the leader by putting everyone’s name in the hat, pulling the names, and informing everyone of who their gift recipient is.
Skipping the stockings. Unless your family has a strong tradition surrounding the stockings hung by the fireplace, leave them empty. The extra candy and junk toys likely won’t be missed and you can save additional cash by focusing on the larger gifts wrapped under the tree. Or you can go back to the days of old and fill stockings with fresh fruit (or coal;).
Setting affordable spending limits. Set a reasonable spending limit everyone can afford. This can be a great way to set a limit (say $30-ish), give 1 person something they really want (rather than them getting lots of small things they don’t really care for), and everyone ends up spending quite a bit less overall.
Asking for a wish list. To prevent spending money on gifts no one likes, ask for a wish list from everyone with three or four things listed in the right price range to help point people in the right shopping direction.
Banking cash for family trips. For families that don’t have small children to give to, perhaps an all-year around savings plan can be put in place towards group holiday family vacations. Stop spending so much money during the holidays and invest it wisely in a vacation fund for next year. As a family, choose the destination together. With a great trip on the horizon, people likely won’t even miss not having gifts under the tree. (Make a tasty breakfast then volunteer Christmas morning if you’re worried about their being a hole where you’d normally be opening gifts. OR, this is one of my favorite ideas, write each other letters telling each other things you love about one another, put them all under the tree, and read them silently or to each other. Guaranteed tears, people.)
Planing a party. If an annual family vacation isn’t in the cards, try saving gift money to go towards a big holiday party. Focus on the people that are invited, and not on the decorations or material things. Make it a time to really remember for each of your friends and family members invited. Have everyone chip in for the food so the financial burden isn’t left to just one person or the family where the event is being held.
Opting out at work. Work-related expenses can be a large burden and also the cause of hurt feelings. Suggest that co-workers move to a Secret Santa idea with strict spending limits for gift-giving to cut down on expenses. You may also want to consider opting out completely of holiday gift-giving. Bring your co-workers homemade cookies or some other treat instead. I did this in the past by adding a nice note, a cute free printable holiday tag, and it worked perfectly.
Do you make an attempt to keep the gift-giving reeled in or do you go hog wild and deal with the consequences later? Do you have any tips for keeping costs down during the holidays?
Making some extra cash for the holidays is a good way to feel better about the spending you do. You can limit the debts you’re creating and hopefully move into the New Year with a clean financial slate. Consider earning extra holiday cash to pay for the gifts you buy or for the party you plan to throw. The holidays are a prime time to take advantage of other people’s very busy schedules. A lot of times people will be willing to pay you to lighten their load by taking care of things they cannot. Win. Win.
There are a TON of super talented people who are kind enough to share their gift tag creation skills with us, all for free. All you have to do is print them right onto computer paper (or cardstock is even better – I got a huge package of neutral cardstock on sale that I use all the time for random projects that come up), cut them out, and you’re set.
Melanie is here with an update on her Spending Diet progress, and she is absolutely killing it! – Anna
With the holidays here, the Spending Diet is getting harder and harder. I was hoping to spend my allotted $100 Spending Diet budget on gifts, but that didn’t go as planned. I stuck with my budget of $100 for my Spending Diet allotment and but I also spent an additional $100 for gifts, and that’s not what I intended to do. It’s becoming harder and harder to resist temptation.
I don’t usually go shopping. At all. I stay out of stores to resist temptation, but the holidays have forced me to go into stores (coupons in hand) and actually shop. During a recent shopping excursion, I bought a fleece jacket as gift for myself. I had a coupon, it was a super discount and I used my Spending Diet allotment, but had I not gone into that store, I would have never known about that jacket.
I know what you’re going to say at this point– I could make all the gifts. I’ve told myself that several times. But craft supplies cost money too and as a working girl with two jobs, I have a time budget. There’s only so many hours in the day and making beautiful gifts for almost 20 people isn’t my priority. My budget (and my family!) is my priority. Yes, I’ve planned to make a few gifts, but the majority have been or will be purchased.
And yes, I know that the holiday season isn’t all about consumerism. It’s about spending time with the ones you love, spreading joy, helping others in need and eating way too many holiday cookies. I plan on doing all of the above and spending lots of time with my loved ones (whether they like it or not!), but I also would like to show my appreciation through a token.
This month I’ve been fighting a bit of an internal battle. I want to be giving and I don’t want to be selfish, but I want to stay on budget. I want to save for me and for my future. This month has also forced me to think about my struggle with perfectionism. I try my best at everything in life. My perfectionism has helped me in certain aspects in my life, but with budgeting, my perfectionism often tells me that I’m failing. I managed to save another $1,000 this month and that’s amazing. I’ve saved $5,600 in just 5 months. A couple of years ago, I saved nothing at all. This holiday season let’s all tell perfectionism to get off our backs, ok? We have a budget, but we’re not going to beat ourselves up about it. Can I get an amen?
Month 5 Savings: $1,000
Started the Spending Diet: July 1, 1014
Savings to date: $5,600
How do you let perfectionism go, and be happy with your accomplishments even if they fall short of your goal?
Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!
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