Keeping the Holiday Season affordable

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important” 

Arthur Conan Doyle

$2000. It is a lot of money in our world, but not really a lot in terms of household economic costs where we choose to live. Depending where you are reading this from it might be nothing or an annual income for a family of 9 people.

Anyway, today Ms Simple redirected $2000 from one of our investment accounts. This is our annual family Christmas fund. It covers travel, accommodation, celebrations, food, experiences for the kids and presents for everyone.

$2000 might seem like a lot of  money but, to give you an indication of the size of our extended family, if we spent $50 a Christmas gift for every relative we would be up for $4500 on gifts by themselves. We’d also be eating cereal alone for xmas lunch. Peak season travel and accommodation costs could be more than one fifth of our entire annual income. Hoochi Mama. Serenity now!

We have only allocated two grand for everything and it should be ample.

This year we are limiting our holiday to the month of January. I hate short holidays. Three month is more gentlemanly, but virtually impossible if you are still tethered to a corporation for some part of your earnings. On this point I must admit to the ungentlemanly emotion of envy. At this time of year (every year) I become envious of those who are more free of work than I. Let’s face it  office life sux!

So in the spirit of sharing we have a few holiday season tips to have a great holiday on the cheap (please add your tips by clicking the comment bubble under the title of this post!).

Our silly season tips to live large without chucking pennies:

  • Travel off peak. Slightly early or slightly late and you are saving a wad.

  • House swap with family or friends in the city your family lives. Everyone wins and best part is that neither family comes home to a break-in.

  • Don’t be too precious to bunk on the floor if there is a timing issue with your house swap (e.g. you arrive before they depart).
  • Organise a secret Santa. We have a $100 limit and each person only buys for one person. Our total gifting is maximum $200 per family.

  • Share regular event costs (i.e. Christmas Day dinner). It’s better to spend $50 every year than to have to find several thousand when it is your year to host the masses.

  • Have a very small house in a quiet city. That way you never win the Christmas venue anchor.

  • Give love, listening and caring rather than electronics, vouchers or apparel.

  • Make a punch or eggnog (and rocketfuel it up) to reduce the beverage costs.

  • Support family plans for cook outs at the beach over family dinners in restaurants.
  • Buy fuel vouchers during the year to reduce seasonal spikes in petrol costs.

  • Organise programmed entertainment for the family. As much as you can. I’ve found the free stuff is massively more fun for the little uns (and gives the bigguns more time to talk and drink). It takes more effort planning though. An example is a giant family picnic and game of cricket at a reserve instead of a family trip to the local theme park. The kids in the family will love seeing (and recall for years after) old people trying to play sport. It will be more memorable for them than their uncle or grandmother waiting for them to finish the devil’s dipper roller coaster ride.

  • Do some charity over the holiday season. Its a feel good eye opener for everyone and really puts life back into perspective.

In truth we could have a blast with a $200.00 holiday season, but we value our time with our family above everything else. If it cost $10,000 we happily drop the dosh to be with the big crew.

What are your tips for keeping things affordable over the holidays?

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