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Have a Frugally Happy Holiday

-- 2010-12-20 3:00 am --

Don’t believe those Scrooges who say that the holiday season has be financially stressful. Christmas and New Year’s Day are times that are meant to be thoroughly enjoyed now and fondly remembered later. Getting there while keeping your budget intact is easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas for frugally happy holidays.

Think like a child. Shop for the adults on your Christmas shopping list at toy stores as well as department stores. You would be surprised what bargains you can find that way. For example, if you go online to the Toys ‘ R Us Big Kids section, you will find nice sales on adult gift favorites such as 8GB MP3 players and 12MP digital cameras.

No matter rain, snow, or sleet, do not pay for gift boxes. If you don’t find free boxes anywhere else, then get them from the United States Postal Service. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service is running commercials everyday offering free boxes for its “if it fits, it ships” campaign.

Bring your work home with you. Play the Secret Santa game with adult family members just like you do with your co-workers on the job. Instead of buying adult aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins individual gifts, get together and draw names for Christmas presents. Set a reasonable price limit (perhaps $50), have everyone provide a short wish list, and then start shopping. This approach ensures that each person gets at least one really nice gift instead of many cheaper small ones that they will forget receiving by New Year’s Day.

Find the very best price for gifts --- free. Check out online bargain sites such as Free Sample Freak to find offers for free samples, coupon codes, instant win games, and special deals that you can turn in to Christmas presents and stocking stuffers.

For New Year’s Eve, party like it’s last year. Are you going to a hot, can’t miss party and need something to wear? Instead of spending money or increasing credit card debt to buy a new outfit, look at the back of your closet for a rarely worn outfit that may be old to you but new to everybody else.

Start a new, inexpensive tradition for New Year’s Day. For instance, make it a day to volunteer. There are a number of charity organizations that would welcome your help for even one day. Or, celebrate the first day of the year by calling, visiting, emailing, or text messaging everyone that you know and saying you care.

These are just a few ideas to help you enjoy the holidays without overspending. Amid all of the focus on shopping for gifts and decorations, it is easy to forget the purpose of it all. Remember, the important part of giving a gift is not the gift itself, it is the fact that you show you care by giving one at all.

What ways have you found to give meaningful gifts at an affordable price? Share your ideas and opinions.