While the holiday season is a wonderful time to be with our loved ones, it is also a very expensive time of the year. This year, amid the unprecedented high cost of goods and services, people are trying to navigate this season without going into tremendous debt. As I contemplate this difficult economic time, where gas and groceries are most expensive than I have seen in my lifetime, I have given some thought about how to do this as affordably as possible. Here are a few things to contemplate:
1) Consider making this a far less commercial and gift-oriented holiday. If finances are especially tight this year, it might be worth broaching the topic with family and friends. My guess is that they will care less about the presents and more about spending time with the people they love.
2) Buy less, and spend less, but if you are shopping in-store and online– consider shopping really early. Retailers and e-tailers are worried about the current economic forecast, just as we are, and as a result we can expect heavy discounts going into the holidays.
3) Shop locally. This isn't just a good sustainability practice, but it is also an important way that you can support your local businesses and economy. The added bonus is that you won't have to worry about whether or not the gifts will arrive on time. However, if you are shipping them, you should plan on doing that early to avoid any potential delays.
4) DIY gifts. Making DIY gifts can be a very thoughtful and meaningful way to give gifts. It can be expensive, but there are also affordable ways to make things that the people on your list will enjoy. Lean into your skills! If you are a wonderful baker, then make some of your baked goods that your loved ones with enjoy over the holidays.
5) Instead of purchasing things, purchase or create experiences. Making memories that last a very long time can easily be achieved if you buy tickets to museum exhibitions, concerts, plays, musicals, facials, manicures, pedicures, etc. That way you can spend the day with your loved one and treat them to something that they might not do for themselves. These things can be expensive, but you can split the cost with other people in your circle, and give these gifts together.
6) Purchase a subscription or membership. If you know this person would love a subscription to the New York Times, Spotify, Netflix, to a museum etc., then this is the type of gift that they can enjoy all year long. Once again, if it is an expensive subscription or membership, you can split the cost with someone else who is planning to give that person a gift.
7) Gift Cards. I usually don't buy gift cards because they seem a bit impersonal, but truth be told a lot of recipients prefer them since they can purchase exactly what they want or need. This is also far more sustainable than buying them something that they will end up returning or not using.
8) Secret Santa Gift-Exchange. If you have a large family, then you might discuss having a Secret Santa gift exchange. The rules are simple: everyone in the gift exchange submits their gift wishlist, and then each participant draws a name that includes that loved-one's wishlist. You buy them a gift from their list, and then the recipient has to guess which member of the group is their Secret Santa.