Gift giving and entertaining can blow a budget to pieces. “You want each present you give to be the best and each party a huge success,” says Durant Abernethy, president of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC). “But that doesn’t mean the gifts have to be expensive or the meals elaborate. Instead, by thinking creatively, you can have a great holiday without overspending.”
NFCC is offering a four-part series (Holiday Spending: A Plan for the Season) to help consumers avoid overspending this holiday season. Part one covered budgeting tips. This second installment covers inexpensive gift and entertaining ideas.
Part Two: Inexpensive Giving and Entertaining Gifts with a personal touch. Turn a favorite hobby or unique skill into a treasured gift by making things such as vests, appliqued tote bags and cutting boards. Or make scented candles, customize holiday decorations or hand paint sweat shirts. Gardeners can share plants decorated with holiday trimmings, a wreath from vines or shelled home-grown pecans. Or surprise your parents with a photo of all of the children together. Gifts from the kitchen. Home baked goods are perennially popular. Buy supplies in bulk to save money, triple recipes and make fudge or cookies to share. Also consider making breads, jams, tamales or flavored vinegars. Prepare casseroles for those who will be entertaining family over the holidays. Have fun. Visit garage sales, resale shops and flea markets for unique gifts that don’t cost a lot of money. Finds may include kitchen accessories, a tricycle or bicycle or yard decorations. Give of your time. Give an elderly grandmother tickets to a movie or play in the company of her grandchildren. Other possible gifts include an afternoon of minor home repairs, baby-sitting, car-washing, meal preparation or errand running.
NFCC offers inexpensive gift ideas add one
In addition to gift giving, the holidays bring out a festive mood in us and we want to entertain. NFCC offers these hints for keeping costs down while still enjoying the season. Caroling party. Sing in your neighborhood, at a local nursing home or hospital. Afterwards have everyone meet at your home for cider, hot chocolate and desserts. Cookie swap. Host a cookie-swap. Each guest bakes about three dozen of his or her favorite holiday cookie recipe to share at the party. When they return home, your guests will have sampled a variety of cookies and leave with different cookies for gift giving or entertaining. Open house/Pot luck supper. Host a pot luck supper or informal open house instead of an expensive sit-down dinner. Center the evening around a tree trimming or other theme or invite musically gifted friends to lead a sing-along.
Finally, if you find yourself getting carried away by holiday spending, remember the spirit of the season. “Take a minute to remember your favorite holidays,” says Abernethy. “For most of us, they center on the friends and family who were there and traditions we shared. The presents we received are less important than the people.”
To learn more about budgeting and using credit or to receive confidential money management counseling, contact a local NFCC member agency. The National Foundation for Consumer Credit is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit organization providing education and counseling services on budgeting and credit. NFCC members, located in 1,300 offices across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada can be identified by the NFCC member seal. This seal signifies standards that include agency accreditation, counselor certification, and polices that ensure confidential services that are free or low-cost. Many members operate under the name Consumer Credit Counseling Services. To locate the closest NFCC member office, call toll-free, 24 hours a day 1-800-388-2227 or visit the NFCC Home Page at http://www.nfcc.org>. Spanish speaking consumers can call 1-800-682-9832.Details