Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The holidays are a time for family, when you make an effort to reconnect, spend quality time, and remind the special people in your life that they mean a lot to you. But this stressful season can also bring a number of unique challenges to the person in charge of entertaining family and friends. Whether you’re traveling or hosting events at your home, the costs can quickly get out of hand and go well beyond the scope of your budget, no matter how precisely you plan. Between trying to keep the kids occupied while they’re out of school, creating one feast after another, and everything else that comes along with the holiday season (gifts, decorations, etc.), you’re beginning to fear that the New Year will find you deep in debt. But if you take the time to scope out some fun activities that cost a lot less, you can easily get yourself back on track with your finances and provide a fun and festive atmosphere for the whole family.
You should start by finding some fun ways to stay home. No doubt there is a bunch of holiday movies the kids would love to go see, but considering the cost of tickets and snacks, you’re out $50 every time you hit the theater. Instead, consider getting Netflix (the first month is free and you can even stream selections to your PC, Mac, or online gaming console) or visiting your local video store. For a lot less money you can keep everyone entertained. You can also pull out board games, video games, and even books to keep them occupied and out of the cold winter weather.
Another fun way to pass the time while indoors is to get crafty. By looking around online you can find tons of ideas to create ornaments, wreaths, and other decorations to hang around the house or send to relatives as gifts (these fun activities could also save you a lot of money when it comes time to send out presents). And creating holiday cards with recycled paper and a few stamps could be a neat way to make personalized greetings for friends and family. So get everyone involved in stringing up popcorn (or festively wrapped candy) and assembling pine cone Santas. You’ll have a great time, cut back on your shopping, and make some unique and personal gifts. You could also try your hand at bath products, candles, and baked goods for minimal cost.
If you prefer to spend your time out of doors but don’t want to pay the hefty fees required by most ski resorts, consider some free activities instead. Have everyone strap on their skates at a local pond, go sledding in the hills, or build a snowman (or a snow fort stocked with snowballs for an all-out offensive) on the front lawn. There are other ways to revel in the biting wind and falling snow than by spending beaucoup bucks on a ski pass. You could even go cross-country skiing (if you have the right gear) in an open area. In short, you don’t need to spend a lot in order to enjoy the season. Simply choose options for entertainment that are not only fun, but free (or close to it)!
Kyle Simpson writes for AdvanceMe, the nation’s leading merchant cash advance provider credit card factoring company.