Four Tips to Celebrate the Holidays on a Budget

Let’s be honest: The holiday season can be particularly challenging for people who are between jobs and/or changing careers. When extra money is scarce and you can’t buy as many gifts for family and friends as you like, it’s easy to feel demoralized. We tell ourselves the holidays aren’t about money or things, but knowing that doesn’t always change the way we feel.

However, if this season is financially tight for you, there are plenty of alternatives for celebrating with your family without spending money you don’t have or going deep into debt for gifts you really can’t afford right now. The key is to make the season less about things and more about experiences that you can share together. Here are 3 fun tips for enjoying affordable holiday activities with your family or friends this year.

1. Check Out Local Community Events

You can find free or cheap community events to attend in almost every town or city in America this time of year, from city-hosted parades to special plays and choir performances at local houses of worship. Check your local paper or the Internet for holiday happenings in your area, and select a few to attend with the family.

*Additional tip*: If you live here in New York City, one great resource I’ve found is Club Free Time, a membership-based website that lists a huge number of free cultural and entertainment events every day across the city, plus provides free or dirt-cheap tickets to everything from Broadway shows to concerts at Carnegie Hall. For an annual fee of less than $20, you can have access to this list not just at the holidays, but year-round.

2. Host a Holiday Movie Night

You can’t go wrong with holiday movies, and there are hundreds of them available, either free at streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, or available to rent for a small fee. (Each streaming service usually offers a free trial if you don’t have a subscription; if you don’t stream videos, look for DVDs or Blu-Ray at your neighborhood outlet.) Pick a few of your favorites, pop some popcorn and have a family holiday movie night. Better yet, invite some friends and make it a party!

*Alternative tip*: If you like laughing at the ridiculous, try putting a spin on the evening and making it cheesy holiday movie night. Alongside the classics, nowadays you have more than your pick of straight-to-video holiday flicks!

3. Go Caroling

Caroling is one of those activities that many people avoid for embarrassment reasons, but everyone loves once they break the ice! (Pun intended.) Pick a favorite neighborhood, gather a few friends and go for it!

*Alternative tip*: Instead of going outside, think about scheduling a time to sing carols at a local nursing home. The residents are always grateful for a bit of holiday cheer.

4. Volunteer

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to forget the stress of your own immediate circumstances is to look past yourself to help someone else. (It’s also a great way to get into the holiday spirit.) There’s plenty to do, from wrapping toys for underprivileged tots to serving holiday dinners to those with nowhere else to go. Find a local charity, shelter or soup kitchen and schedule a time for you and the family to volunteer. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

Regardless of how you observe the holidays, by exercising a bit of imagination, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the season with the people you love without breaking the bank in the process. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to take some time for yourself to plan for 2018. This could be your greatest year yet!

Happy Holidays from us at GiraffesConsulting.