4 Ways I'm Making the Holidays Less Expensive This Year

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 12, 2021

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A woman baking cookies in her kitchen with a Christmas tree in the background.

Image source: Getty Images

The holidays are generally expensive, so I'm taking these steps to ease the burden.


Key points

  • There are steps you can take to spend less in the course of the holidays, like looking for credit card bonuses.
  • Shopping early and asking for help are just a few specific strategies that may cut costs.

I'm the type of person who genuinely loves the holidays. I get giddy when I see houses in my neighborhood adorned with lights, and while many people shudder at the sound of Christmas music, I'm that person who sings along in the supermarket aisle.

But one thing I don't love about the holidays is how expensive they can be. To be clear, I enjoy being generous with friends and loved ones and showering people with gifts. But at the same time, I don't want to bust my budget on holiday spending, and so I'm taking these steps to make the upcoming season a bit less expensive.

1. Letting people contribute to parties and meals

Usually, I'm the sort of person who tells guests to just show up for the holidays. This year, if people offer to bring drinks or desserts for one of my parties or meals, I'm more inclined to say yes. I'm already spending a lot more money on groceries these days thanks to the rising cost of food. And so I wouldn't mind having people pitch in.

Besides, I always make a point to not show up to other people's events empty-handed. So there's no reason not to be honest and tell people what they can contribute when they show up at my home.

2. Shopping for gifts ahead of time

Due to a supply chain crunch, there are apt to be inventory issues this coming holiday season. That could mean certain products will be harder to get, and more expensive to boot.

To combat that, I'm starting my holiday shopping at the start of November. I figure that if I spend a few weeks researching deals, I might manage to save some money without having to scale back my gift list. And that way, I also don't have to worry about items running out.

3. Outsourcing decor to my kids

As much as I'm in love with holiday lights, it costs a lot of money to convert my house into a winter wonderland for five weeks. And so instead of doing that, I plan to enlist the help of my children to make our house look more festive. I've already purchased decals they can stick onto our windows, and I'll have them draw pictures to put up around the house.

4. Seeking out a generous credit card bonus

Applying for a new credit card this holiday season could result in a pile of cash back. And that, in turn, should help cover the cost of my various expenses.

Because I plan to buy a lot of gifts for the holidays, I don't think I'll have a problem snagging a sign-up bonus. There's one in particular I'm looking at that could give me $200 cash back for spending $1,000 within three months of opening a new card.

How will you adjust your holiday plans?

Nice as it is to go all out for the holidays, you don't want to risk ending up in debt in the process. And so if money is tight right now, it pays to take some steps to reduce your expenses.

Of course, the way you go about that should hinge on your priorities. If you love plastering your home with lights, don't give that up. Instead, maybe host one less meal or cut your gift-giving budget a little. You shouldn't skimp on the things about the holidays you really love. Rather, decide what's most important to you and what plans are easiest to adjust.

At the same time, consider applying for a credit card with a sign-up bonus if you think you'll have an easy time snagging that extra cash. It's an easy way to offset some of your holiday bills and buy yourself more flexibility with what you can spend.

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