From twinkling lights to plane tickets home, the price of holiday cheer can add up fast.
And while you may have a strict gift-giving budget in place for the 50 important people on your list, when you factor in other expenses—say, entertaining and decorating—your initial good intentions can get easily canceled out.
So in the spirit of keeping holiday spending at bay, we turned to those who know a great deal about saving for advice on how to help cut costs this season: LearnVest readers and the site’s own employees.
From stocking your freezer with pre-made hostess gifts to automating your hunt for the cheapest December airfare, these 12 tips and tricks will help keep seasonal spending in check—without sacrificing holiday cheer.
Serve a Signature Cocktail
“A party can be a budget-breaker if you try to provide an open bar, so I offer guests a seasonal cocktail, like a champagne-and-cranberry juice Poinsettia (for a non-alcoholic version, simply swap Sprite for the bubbly). It easily cuts my beverage expenses in half, and the festive drink adds to the theme of the party.”
-Kristl Story, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Cut Costs on Christmas Cards
“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved writing out and sending holiday cards, but stationers tend to charge a premium for boxed cards in the months leading up to Christmas and the New Year. My trick for saving? I stock up the first week of January, when the prices are seriously slashed, and then save them for the next holiday season.”
-Liz Ozaist, LearnVest executive editor
Bake Now, Gift Later
“I often have multiple holiday parties to host or attend, and the time and costs of running out to the store to buy prepared desserts each time adds up. So I pre-bake sweets and then freeze them for upcoming events. I’ll spend an afternoon with friends or the kiddos baking treats like fudge brownies with holiday sprinkles and sugar cookies to decorate at the parties. It’s a fun time and keeps costs low.”
-Eli Mechlovitz, New York City
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