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With prices spiking and budgets tightening, Christmas shopping has been at the forefront of many shoppers’ minds. There’s been a whirlwind of sales searching, discounts and deliveries to ensure that gift is ready for that special person on that special day. However, as the holidays get closer and closer, you may be starting to wonder: “What now?”
In years prior, holiday shopping was mixed into the holiday experience, something that happened alongside family traditions and decorations. But this year, people started shopping around Halloween, when Christmas was barely on the horizon. On the one hand, this can leave you room to do more with your holiday. On the other, you may not have known where to start or what you could afford.
So, where can we go from here? A lot further than you think. Yes, it’s going to look different but, with a little prioritizing and reorganizing, you can still stay on budget while feeling some holiday magic.
It’s all about perspective
A big way to save on Christmas is to figure out what you care about the most. Often people can get caught up in a tradition without asking themselves if it fits their vision of the holiday — or they put pressure on themselves to recreate an exact memory.
In truth, Christmas may be one of the most adaptable holidays because it can be celebrated in many ways and with varying budgets. For those looking to tuck away some money before the new year, here are a few suggestions to keep costs low and spirits high.
If you’re big on family dinner
Food has become of one the most expensive parts of anyone’s budget in the last year due to shortages and inflations. Coming off the heels of Thanksgiving, a large Christmas dinner may feel like too much of a stretch. Luckily, there are plenty of credit cards that are geared towards giving you cash back on groceries like the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.
If you’re used to being the only chef, this is a perfect time to ask people to chip in with one or two dishes, a couple of people overseeing a side dish and dessert while you handle the main course. You can also scale down the main dish. Instead of a multi-course meal, you can make pasta, soup or something fun like pizza. This way you take the stress out of the meal and be able to enjoy every bite.
If you’re big on decorating
Decorating is often the first and easiest way to get into the Christmas spirit, whether you go with the more traditional red and green trimming or opt for snow-themed minimalism. However, it’s also an area where it’s easy to go overboard (there’s always that one ornament that’s so tempting). Not to mention the list of decorations can be long depending on your living situation.
The best way to tackle this is to create a vision, make a budget and a list, and stick with it! Start at home and imagine how you want your space to look along with a list of materials needed. Prioritize materials that can be reused next year like ornaments, lights and lawn decorations. For decorations that are one-time use, such as garlands, it may be better to get them inexpensively, more Amazon than William Sonoma.
A flat-rate card like Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card can help with the process. Not only can you earn 1.5 percent cash back on all your purchases, no matter what aesthetic you choose, but you can also use cash back on Amazon purchases for more decorations.
If your family usually flies in
The airline industry has taken major hits in the last few years and nowadays taking a flight can feel more like a gamble, on whether the price will be right or if the plane will even leave the airport. This makes gatherings of any size more difficult than ever. While it can be disappointing to be unable to see people in person, this doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to spend time together.
An easy way for loved ones to feel included is by making a video call while decorating the tree, coordinating an activity like a cooking class or scheduling a movie night to watch Christmas movies. The last option can be especially useful for those who are looking to renew their streaming services. There are plenty of cards that offer cash back on back on entertainment, such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offering 5 percent back on streaming until the end of the month.
If you like going out
If the year has felt longer than usual and you need to stretch your legs, December can be a great time to go and explore. Often a local event is no more than a Google search away, such as ice skating and Christmas Markets. You can also explore local businesses for Christmas events and possible sales if you find you need a last-minute gift or two.
Another option is checking to see if your credit card offers discounts on local events, like concerts and sports games. For example, Capital One Experiences helps you find local events, allowing you to use points or miles earned on your Capital One credit card towards your purchase.
If you need a change of scenery
So maybe you’ve done Christmas every which way you can think of and are ready to take a break from the usual traditions. This may be the perfect time to take a quick trip. Instead of unwrapping presents first thing Christmas morning, get in the car instead. Take a day trip to a national site that may be nearby, find a spot to watch the sunrise or stay overnight in a hotel where you can jump in a heated pool. This way you can avoid the inflated prices you’ll find the day before and give yourself a new experience.
Travel cards are perfect for a quick excursion. Visa Signature cards come with access to the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection, which gives automatic upgrades, complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and more at over 900 luxury hotels.
Other cards, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card offers earn up 75K Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on your first 6 months and 50K Bonus Points after you stay 6 eligible paid nights at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® through 1/31/24. Also, offer one Free Night Award (valued up t0 35,000 points) on every account anniversary. For those not looking to go too far from home, a card that rewards gas purchases can prove to be very useful around this time of year.
The bottom line
If no one has said it to you, I will: Christmas is a holiday. That means it is supposed to be, above all, a break. Whatever pressure you may be putting on yourself to make it a perfect holiday or to get the perfect gift, use it to enjoy your time instead. After all, the decorations, quality time and experiences should be an investment in your enjoyment.
So, don’t break the bank, trying to keep an image in your mind of “holiday.” Do your best to make unforgettable memories with what you have while saving a few dollars along the way.