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Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe County > Ontario Works > Planning for the Holidays on a Budget

Planning for the Holidays on a Budget

November 5, 2019
If you’re already struggling to make ends meet, which so many of us are, the upcoming holiday season will only add more financial pressure. Everyone wants to give their family the best holiday they possibly can without going further into debt. With a little planning and some creativity, you can have a wonderful holiday and not break the bank.


Create a Holiday Budget

Whether you create a simple spreadsheet or put pen to paper, seeing your holiday budget in black and white is a great motivator to stick to it! Organize your gift budget by individual family members, keeping their wish lists in mind, and create a separate budget for additional groceries, decor, etc. Don’t forget to budget for stocking stuffers! These little items can add up fast.

Pay Cash

It’s so easy to tap or swipe our credit and debit cards without thinking of the consequences. By using cash as much as possible, you may find it easier to stick to your budget. This will also save you from the shock of the credit card bills (and interest charges) after the holidays.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Admit it, you likely have a hidden stash of gift bags and boxes from years past. Don’t be afraid to reuse them! It helps the environment, reduces waste and saves money. Keep the kids busy with a roll of plain paper and holiday stickers, markers, etc, to create their own custom wrapping paper. If and when you do need to stock up, tape, scissors, ribbons, gift boxes and more can all be found at your local dollar store for a fraction of the price of department stores.

Get Creative

Instead of buying new decorations each year, have the kids make them. Grandparents LOVE to receive homemade, personalized gifts so have the kids make some extra decorations to become treasured gifts. Schedule a day of holiday baking with the family or friends. Make it a cookie exchange, which can then be used as gifts for teachers, neighbours or holiday entertaining. Planning a holiday family movie or story night at home is a great way to spend time together and enjoy some of those baked goods!

Subscribe & Save

If you shop online, most retailers will offer a generous discount code for subscribing to their email updates. Watch these updates to take advantage of special offers and free shipping dates. Combine orders with friends or family to reach the minimum purchase required for free shipping. Many online retailers, such as Amazon, offer a trial membership that includes free shipping. Just don’t forget to set a reminder to cancel if you don’t wish to use it after the trial period.

Make It a Potluck

During the holiday season, it is always common to share meals with family and friends. Everyone can pitch in with their signature dish and the less domestically-inclined can be in charge of plates, cutlery and dinner rolls! This is especially helpful if guests have dietary restrictions or picky eaters – their contribution will guarantee that there is something on the table that they can enjoy.

This is also a great time to create meals that use up pantry and freezer items that you already have on hand. Changing the presentation can bring a festive feel to even the most ordinary foods. For example, if you usually mash your potatoes, try oven roasting them, or adding sweet potatoes for colour.

No matter how you choose to celebrate this season, keep in mind that the memories will linger well after the gifts are opened and the decorations put away for another year.