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5 Practical Tips to Save Money This Holiday Season
BY Vawn Himmelsbach | December 6th, 2022
As someone who recently bought a pricey bottle of Hennessy for the sole purpose of making turkey gravy, I can attest to the fact that holiday spending can quickly get out of control. Admittedly, the gravy was so good you could eat it with a spoon, but the $2 can of gravy left sitting in the cupboard would have saved a nice chunk of change — and that’s becoming increasingly important to Canadians during these uncertain economic times.
This year, holiday spending is expected to fall 17 per cent to $1,520 per household, according to Deloitte Canada’s 2022 holiday retail outlook. Inflation has shrunk consumer buying power across income brackets, and 76 per cent of Canadians say they’re reining in holiday spending because of mounting grocery prices, inflation worries and economic concerns.
But $1,520 is still a lot of money, and you can expect to pay much more than that if you’re flying across the country to visit loved ones. If you’re not one of those super-organized people who buys gifts year-round to spread out the cost — and let’s face it, most of us aren’t — you may be feeling some anxiety about the upcoming holiday season and the impact it’s going to have on your bank account.
Here are five tips that can help you stretch your dollars this holiday season:
1. Holiday Entertaining
With the skyrocketing cost of groceries, entertaining guests will be much more expensive this year than in holidays past. The price of groceries increased 11.4 per cent in September — a rate of inflation we haven’t seen since 1981. (And unfortunately, prices will likely to continue to rise, according to Canada’s Food Price Report which predicts a 5 to 7 per cent increase at the grocery story in 2023.) But this is where a little planning can save a lot of money. People tend to over-cater, so by planning out your menu (and grocery list) in advance, you can avoid buying more food than you need. Depending on the event, you could opt to host a cocktail party, potluck or brunch rather than a formal dinner. And maybe avoid making gravy that requires half a cup of Hennessy.
2. Holiday Parties
Then there’s alcohol — one of those ‘hidden’ costs of holiday gatherings. If you’re going to several soirées, put a limit on how much you’ll spend on drinks. If you’re hosting an informal event, consider asking guests to bring their own booze. For a more formal event, stick to wine and beer and/or limit bar options to mixed drinks. You could also offer a festive punch (where you can stretch a bottle of rum with ginger ale and cranberry juice) or offer a ‘signature’ holiday cocktail (preferably one without 10 obscure ingredients).
3. Holiday Outfits
If you haven’t been to a holiday party since 2019, you might be ready to splurge on a new outfit. But costs can quickly add up, especially if you’re going to multiple events that require multiple outfits. First, see if you can repurpose anything from your closet — it’s been a few years, so what’s old might feel new again. If not, consider whether you really need multiple outfits or if one will suffice. For women, consider investing in a classic black dress that you can accessorize differently for various functions; for formal events you could even consider renting an outfit (which is also a more sustainable option). Or, buy a classic piece (like a velvet blazer) that you could wear throughout the year.
We’ve all heard the usual tips and tricks: Do a secret Santa gift exchange! Make your own gifts! Secret Santa doesn’t always work for families (if you have grandkids, you probably don’t want to buy presents for one and not the others). But you could talk to your family about setting a budget for gifts, perhaps exchanging smaller ‘stocking stuffers’ rather than more expensive gifts. And while homemade gifts can be charming, the cost of materials — especially in these inflationary times — can start to add up. For example, if you like to gift your holiday baking, consider that the cost of ingredients will be much higher than last year, so you may want to make some modifications or head to the bulk store.
5. Hidden Costs
When it comes to the holidays, one of the biggest money guzzlers (and hidden costs) is gifting yourself while you’re out shopping for others. It’s easy to get swept up in the moment, with shop windows decked out in holiday decor and deals galore. While you may have made a budget for gifts — or limited the number of people you’ll be gifting — that budget probably doesn’t include yourself. Set a budget for everything related to the holiday season, from food and alcohol to clothes and travel, and don’t forget about those hidden costs. Then track what you’re spending. That can go a long way in helping you enjoy the holidays without dreading the bills that come in January.