Practical Ways to Save Money Gathering + Gifting This Holiday Season

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Even if you think you’ve spent all your pennies on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are still plenty of ways to save money gathering and gifting this holiday season. Next to budgeting and setting limits, planning ahead, or searching for the best deals, here are a few creative and resourceful tricks to keep your pockets full and your holiday gathering and gifting even fuller.

holiday table setting

Save Money Gathering

Definitely do not do it all yourself.

I personally have a habit of taking control of all the meals during the holidays. I enjoy wearing a festive apron and love the challenge of finagling time and oven space to present 85 warm casserole dishes simultaneously. But feeding the immediate family, extended family, and in-laws can be costly.

You can save money and time by cleverly recruiting your invitees to help. Put your apron down and make your next holiday gathering a potluck. Request your guests bring their own drinks, appetizers, or a dish to pass. If you feel you need to stay in control, provide a theme to center the meal around.

Make decorating a process, not an end goal.

Everyone loves a well-decorated Christmas gathering. Decking the halls has its own holiday song, and who doesn’t enjoy bringing in the season with a little bit of extra tinsel? However, the upfront cost of purchasing decorations in bulk can add up, even if you’re shopping at the dollar store.

To save money adding holiday flair this season, consider decorating as a process. Plan your theme accordingly, starting with a small collection and work your way through the season into your imagined masterpiece. It make take a few years to gather your ideal assortment of merry and bright décor, so enjoy every moment and festive find. You could also have a decorating party in place of a seated dinner and invite guests to bring one piece of holiday décor to warm your space.

Kick the paper.

Another way to save money gathering and gifting is to kick the paper. Now, the cost of napkins may not seem like much, but simply replacing paper and plastic goods at gatherings is not only eco-friendly, but a great way to save money. Use cloth napkins and towels in place of paper napkins and paper towel. Use dish sets instead of paper plates; it’s the perfect time to teach the kids to wash and dry dishes or load the dishwasher. Reusable drinkware and silverware will last a lifetime, so leave the red solo cups on the shelf to keep money in your pocket.

Think quaint instead of lavish.

If you can’t trust your guest to blow their nose in your cloth napkin, then maybe don’t text them an invite this year. Toning the guest list down to a few close family and friends will definitely help you save money this year.

Meet outside.

Find a local holiday hot spot and gather with your loved ones there. Gathering outside of the home is a great way to rid yourself the formality of splurging on a holiday party. Enjoy the outdoors and safely spend time in a space without the worry of party costs. You do not acquire any financial obligation by scheduling a gathering in a public space. You could even explore holiday lights at one of the many amazing places Metro Detroit has to offer.

Save Money Gifting

Photo by Jillian Lankford

Handmade gifts get a bad rap.

Even if you aren’t the creative type, or your children are prone to glitter disasters, putting together a homemade gift is the easiest way to save money around the holidays. You don’t have to be a Pinterest super star, either. I love repurposing my children’s artwork into collages for their grandparents. An inexpensive frame or one that is collecting dust in your closet turns their indistinguishable artwork into a gifting masterpiece. I also use the piles of paper artwork as wrapping paper. This is a double win; you declutter the pile of collections and skip having to buy wrapping paper, too!

Consider providing a labor.

Another way to save money gathering and gifting is to give the gift of your time. Shovel for your in-laws or babysit your best friends kids for their next date night. Even just offering something you’re good at, like cooking a meal, organizing, cleaning, or painting toe nails is a priceless gift. Your time is precious, so what better gift could you give to someone special? Present your commitment in a handwritten voucher or holiday card. You can even set your own terms and include an expiration date.

Re-gift your clutter.

Before you rush to the store or load your online shopping cart, walk through your home, open the closet and attic doors, and assess what you have that you no longer need. Some of these items make great gifts, like the waffle iron taking up space in your cupboard. Or the earrings your aunt got you from her trip overseas that just aren’t your style. You could even sell or trade what you no longer use on any of the hundreds of online resale apps like  Poshmark or Mercari. Sell what you no longer need, and use the profits to fund your holiday gift giving.

Find your gifts secondhand and don’t be ashamed of it.

Ever wonder why there are so many thrift stores in Metro Detroit? I mean, have you seen the things we give away in our Facebook mom groups? Someone else’s gently used toys and hand-me-downs can be a super special, thoughtful gift. Put in an “in search of” search shout out in your local mom group, and you’d be surprised by how many of us have something sitting around we’d freely give away that would make an exceptional, no cost to you, gift for someone on your list.

Gift experiences.

A final way to save money gathering and gifting is to gift experiences. If you are gifting for an entire family, membership experiences to museums, farms, and studios are the way to go. With endless options around Metro Detroit, preparing a group gift has never been so easy. It also saves you time from having to come up with individual gifts.

Even just a scheduled date to the new coffee shop in town or renting a movie theatre for the entire family is thoughtful and cost-effective. You can also consider scheduling a day trip with your besties to the hottest new salon or spa and offer to chauffeur the event as your gift to them. Or, gift your partner a child-free afternoon exploring a new trail or bike route a couple towns away. Taking the time to gift great experiences doesn’t have to come at a great cost.

Use these clever ideas to keep gathering and gifting simple and hassle-free. Staying practical can be an easy and responsible way to save money while joining in on the spirit of giving this holiday season.

Looking for more gift inspiration? Check out the Detroit Mom-Approved Holiday Gift Guide for more amazing ways to save, gather, and gift.

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