Festive season celebrations: How to minimize spending. In this week’s blog, we here at Consumer Debt Support (CDS) would like to share more on this topic, the season of giving and sharing. We all have to prepare ourselves well in advance for the festivities of holiday visitors, Christmas and New Year Celebrations. Keeping this all-in mind, it cost money. We need a plan to ensure we survive the season of giving and sharing with family and friends.

Here at CDS we will do our utmost best to share some ideas and help you become a little more creative to survive the Festive Holidays. There is the saying that January has 45 days, do not become a victim of your own spending over these holidays.

Most important before we start, please do not make new debt to cover the cost of your Festive celebrations. Start planning early and get everyone in on the lunches or dinners. You will be surprised how many of your family and friends will bring a plate of this and that, and their own drinks won’t be a problem to bring with neither. Have fun this festive season within your financial means.

Here are some ideas that can help you with Christmas ideas and New Year’s Day outings. 

  1. Planning your Christmas day, Old Christmas eve and old and New Year’s party celebrations.
  2. What will you do on the one and on the other?
  3. Who will you invite to the events you’re planning?
  4. What will you be serving on both occasions?
  5. What will you do for gifts? And how would you like to deal with the gifts exchanging for the kids and your family?

For starters, one needs a Christmas list of who will be at your Christmas lunch or dinner. It is a good idea to decide on when will you exchange gifts. Gifts can financially ruin your pocket, so stay calm and plan well, rule number ONE do not make new debt to splash on family and friends, keep it simple and budget friendly. It works well to talk to all the guests and share the plan on exchanging something small around the lunch or dinner table. Once the gifts are sorted, you can now do the next task — the food and drinks. Plan your menu, google for budget wise ideas, what will your menu look like and what can each person bring to the table to ensure a festive spread of food and desserts. Start buying the Christmas meats now already in the last week of November and the start of December.

We found that on the day you would like to give a small gift to each person at the table. It is a good gesture, and here is a great idea that could also work for you. Let each person draw one name of the persons invited, and decide on a price for the gift — R50 or R75 max, no matter if you chose for a child or an adult male or female. You then get a gift to that value; wrap the gift; put the name on of the person you got the gift for; and have a secret Santa. As host it is always a good idea to keep two spare gifts on hand for in case someone forgot to bring their gift.

It is nowadays a good idea to allow each family to do their own gifts exchanging time away from the other celebrations. This cuts down in costings of gifts for other family and friends. Allow the time for each family to do their own private gift exchanges away from the bigger family events. It is merely an idea and it works well with our family celebrations as we are a large family and it can financially cripple one to buy 36 gifts one go for example, to ensure a gift is wrapped for everyone at your Christmas tree.

How would you decorate the table, etc. Well, here you can really get the help of family and friends attending the lunch or supper on what the theme will be. Once you have decided it is a good idea to now already start shopping for your red, white and gold candles before the prices are inflated for the late shoppers. Visit various fabric stores and see what you can buy at cheap prices to hand sew you table cloth instead of buying, as they can be quite pricy. Another great idea is to make stuffed Christmas trees and handmade tree fabric balls, that you can dolly up with nice bling-bling ribbon and use shiny red, blue, gold and silver fabrics and the gold or silver cotton yarns to hang the balls. You can also make homemade Christmas wreaths with poison ivy and various other products to make it ideal for a table centre piece, and place a candle in the centre. Remember to use carboard circles cut large enough, cover them in nice matching paper to catch the candle spills and prevent table cloth spoils.

Homemade Christmas gifts: Seeing it is Christmas and a time for giving, it is a good time now to start planning your Christmas gifts and ideas. Most important is they must be cost-effective and inexpensive for your budget to ensure you can make nice gifts that can be used.

Here are a few great ideas:

  1. Google for great hanger cover ideas and make three covers for three hangers, they can cost you no more than R60.00 to make.
  2. Tea cosies handmade crochet and fabric always go off well with the ladies.
  3. You can make sock bags for the guys.
  4. Another great idea I found the other day is a handmade iPad cover, really easy to make and it looks like a lot of fun.
  5. Tissue box covers — there are quite a few great ideas to look into and they look like fun projects.
  6. If you love baking, make biscuits and homemade sweets and fill small jars for the guys.
  7. Beading and beadwork for men and woman is always a fun idea to make nice beach and holiday accessories. Great idea is to crochet beads around a beach towel, they make great gifts for the girls.
  8. Fabric mobile phone pouches that you can tie on waist belt or hang around your neck.
  9. Making a few nice fabric lounge pillows covers for that scatter cushions is a great idea. All my friends love these homemade pillow cases, I try and work with their décor and keep it simple and cost effective.
  10. If you can crochet, you can put a nice border around facecloths and even kitchen towels, that will dolly them up for a unique gift.
  11. Some men have broken shoelaces in their shoes – it is a good idea to buy them a pair and you can add a chocolate or so in the gift.
  12. Remember to be creative with your wrapping. Don’t buy expensive wrapping paper. Use brown paper and ask the kids to trace Christmas pictures on them and colour them in with a water paint — this is another great way to keep the kids busy.
  13. If you love sewing, make the boys and girls Pakistani shorts with t-shirts and you can make panamas, it is such easy and funky things you can do for the kids that can appreciate homemade gifts.
  14. Visit craft shops and buy two podge gift packs — they are reasonably priced, and give them to your family or friends that love to do crafts.
  15. Crochet milk jug doyleys or buy a white soft netting, elastic and a lace flower to put on the net, and sew the elastic on with a soft fine lace to finish off the ends with a soft lace for the final trimming touch.
  16. Pencil bags always goes well when you have a 5-year-old, and a nice colouring book. They love their crayons and books. Make a fabric bag to carry their books etc with them.
  17. Perhaps your friend or family member needs a new sewing machine cover. Make one — there are great ideas when you search the internet.
  18. Remember to collect your glass coffee jars and tins for your homemade baked treats — you will need a nice fabric to cut in a circle and elastic bands to dress them over the lid of your bottle. It will be a pretty gift with something nice in to enjoy.
  19. Another great idea for granny or grandpa is a dinner tray-cloth that you can do the edges with various stitches or hand stitching and ravel loose the ends about 1.5cm.

Planning for events outdoors: plan picnics — there is so much one can do to get outdoors that is not so expensive. When you go out for Old Year’s eve and waiting for midnight of 31 December 2017 to announce the new year, plan picnics and go to various places that allow picnic baskets and blankets. Take your camping chairs with you and have a wonderful evening with your family and friends.

Picnic food: Kids love the mini sausage rolls — buy them at a place like your local Deeghuys and bake them at home. You can do mini hot dogs, and pack in snack fruit like pineapple slices and strawberry halves. Make a skewer of fruits and salads, boil eggs and make them up with a nice filling. Make little hamburgers, buy your dough at your supermarket and bake your own sizes of dough’s. You don’t have to buy expensive foods in the shops for your picnic — homemade is healthier for you and your pocket.

If you’re gluten-free, you can make so many variants of foods, homemade popcorn, mielies, pineapple fruit skewers, veggies skewers, chicken pieces, boiled eggs, tuna and mayonnaise to spread on your corn cracker or rice cakes. Pack your own budget picnic basket and have great fun with your family.

New Year’s bash: Having a year end party to celebrate the old and greet the new year, is always fun and a time for sharing and being with your family and friends. Plan you New Year function and ask every guest to bring a plate of something you have on your list for the table. Some can even bring campaign if the platters are sorted, and another expensive item is the drinks — ask your guests to bring their own drinks and a snack pack for the tables for everyone to share. You can also ask your guests to bring streamers and party poppers for midnight — your friends will for sure not have a problem with contributing to make the evening a great one.

In conclusion:

Christmas celebrations are different for everyone, and the idea of this blog is to share ideas that can help you save money instead of spending too much on gifts and food that can cripple you for the rest of the holidays.  Instead of spending too much, why not just enjoy the togetherness with your loved ones and friends and allow everyone to share the costs. There is a saying, January has 45 days. Most people receive their pay and bonus on the 15th of December, and not keeping in mind the next pay date is at the end of January which accounts to 45 days then. Spend your money wisely and count every sent before you spend it. Enjoy all the preparations for the holidays, a budget is the key to get you through from 15 December to 31 January when the spending can leave you broke before January really started.

Wishing you and your loved ones A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and a Prosperous 2018.