December brings the most joyful time of year. Holiday favourites are playing on the radio, strings of lights sparkle throughout the neighbourhood and classic holiday films are found on every television channel.
While meant to be fun, the holidays can also be overwhelming. Aside from the usual hustle and bustle, some struggle financially to make this a special time for loved ones.
Apply my holiday tips to avoid unnecessary consumer debt and begin the New Year on the right financial foot.
Whether you’re attending a get-together or hosting one of your own, preparing only one dish has many benefits. A potluck dinner requires guests to contribute a favourite dish of their own to the meal. So, if it’s your turn to host the turkey dinner this year, insist on making it a potluck (I do).
It’s less prep time, less clean up and less money for everyone involved.
Another favourite holiday tip is creating a bake exchange. It allows you to serve a variety of yummy treats without the cost and hassle of preparing each recipe. Get together with friends for an afternoon of baking.
Everyone should bring one recipe with required ingredients, and they all leave with a selection of baked delights.
Rather than buying expensive greeting cards, give a favourite family photo with your own hand-written message on the back. It costs pennies to duplicate a photo you may already have at home.
Get creative. Often the best savings are in making a gift, rather than buying one. There is an endless supply of free craft ideas on the Internet. Find one that is easy to follow, requires few or inexpensive supplies and is something the receiver can use and enjoy.
Alternatively, if you have a favourite family recipe — maybe a secret sauce, savoury soup or spicy salsa — make a large batch and fill jars tied with red ribbon and a holiday tag.
Homemade goodies such as these are inexpensive to give and take care of those hard-to-buy-for people on your list.
There are many festive activities you can do with friends and family without spending a lot:
-Bundle up together, print a few classic holiday hymns and go carolling in your neighbourhood. Build a snowman.
-Gear up for an afternoon of sledding.
-Pour hot chocolate in a thermos and take a stroll through town where you’re sure to find some impressive holiday lighting displays.
-Search through your local community events calendar for free things to do in your area.
No matter what your holiday plans may be this year, I wish you and yours a very safe, healthy and happy festive season.
May your new year be everything you hope for and may you have a financially healthy start to the year!
Heather Tarnopolsky is a Sun Life Financial advisor in Greater Sudbury.