The holidays are just around the corner and it looks like it will be a lean season for many in our country. Here's some ways to get a jump on the holidays:
- Spread your purchases out over a longer period of time. Need eight bags of candy by Halloween? If you buy two bags a week for the next four weeks, you will have the candy you need without running out at the last minute and spending a whole bunch of money all at once. Putting together a Thanksgiving dinner that would feed an army? Start now adding some of the ingredients for the dinner to your shopping basket and you will be ahead of the game. Need a dozen gifts by Christmas? Buy a couple with each paycheck until Christmas and you will be all set for gifts by the time the end of December rolls around.
- Get the most bang for your buck. Start with Dollar Stores for your basic needs (ie: you can buy a cute serving platter at Macys for $45 or a faux serving platter at the Dollar Store for a buck; the food and camaraderie are what's important, not how much you spent on a plate). Also shop sales as holiday food stuff comes out and head to the thrift stores for things such as holiday decorations and Halloween costumes.
- Be creative. Instead of throwing a huge turkey bash like you always have done (and footing the bill just because you always have done so) why not have a holiday potluck? Instead of shelling out big bucks for plastic Halloween costumes, get creative and make them yourself. Instead of running out at the last minute to the corner Christmas tree stand, why not pay $5 for a permit and take the family out to local forest land and cut your own?
- Scale back on the consumerism. Shopping (even on Thanksgiving Days at some stores) and buying outrageous gifts have pretty much been the norm over the past decade or so, however with tough economic times, maybe people will realize that it is the joy and the people in your life that make the holidays not how much you spend.
- Resolve to skip the pressure and holiday blues that can often occur at this time of year. If you are lonely, invite friends over or volunteer at a local homeless shelter and cheer up other people who need it. Be happy to only do what you can do--many people have unrealistic expectations for the holidays and are depressed when they don't meet these expectations. Do things for others like helping a neighbor hang their Christmas lights or baking cookies for the local fire department staff or nursing home residents--the appreciation you will receive for such small things will truly show you the joy of the season.