December 20, 2016
The holiday season can be a strain on your nerves and your budget with gift-buying, gift-wrapping, holiday tipping and special meal preparations.
But we’re here to help, with a guide for tipping service providers, DIY gifts and how to wrap them, plus tips for buying food for holiday meals without blowing your budget.
(For more general tips about budgeting check out our holiday savings blog from last month.)
FOOD BUYING HACKS
Experts agree one good way to avoid over-spending on food for the holidays, is getting organized before you go shopping.
U.S. News Money offers ways you can save on holiday meal fixings by planning around seasonal ingredients, stocking up on on-perishables (buying bulk, especially), taking advantage of in-store holiday deals and baking from scratch.
Oprah.com has a half-dozen tips to help you budget your holiday meals, including purchasing things like exotic cheeses at Costco or Sam’s, since they are typically 30 percent cheaper than the local grocery store.
FoodNetwork.com has money-saving meal recipes for holiday meals and BankRate.com has loads of insider secrets to help you save at your favorite grocery store. Asking key questions of store managers and logging in for special deals that are only revealed on store websites can save you cash at the check-out counter.
GIFT WRAPPING HACKS
First on the list of gift-wrapping tips (to save money!) is to ditch the holiday bag and tissue route. Yvonne at StoneGableBlog.com offers 10 different ideas that can add appeal with less expense.
Gift boxes are inexpensive at craft stores (99¢ to $1.59 at Michael’s) and if you take Yvonne’s advice about paper and ribbons, Hallmark.com has a bunch of video tutorials in their Giftology section to help you wrap boxes, make gift bows with ribbon and big tissue paper flowers.
And though kids may tear the paper to pieces when they’re unwrapping presents (because it’s so much more fun and suspenseful that way!) here are 12 genius gift hacks when KIDS do the wrapping! We won’t spoil the surprise, but this blogger includes free printables for gift card holders and a tutorial for making bows from wrapping paper!
HOLIDAY TIPPING HACKS
If you’re wondering what to give the people in your life who cut your hair, carry your mail, pick up your trash or delivery your newspaper, here’s a handy guide from Emily Post. The empress of etiquette helps you work out whether to give a holiday gift or cash, and how much to spend.
Remember, there’s no single right amount for everyone. How much to tip depends on a lot of things including how long you’ve used someone’s services, how important the service is to your life, the quality of the service you’ve received and where you live.
The purpose is to say thank you and reward good service. If money is tight, you still can still recognize someone with homemade goodies and a handwritten note of thanks. For a cloud of DIY ideas, sift through Good Housekeeping’s 45 ideas, Country Living’s 58 gifts to make or 1,000 make-it-yourself holiday gifts on Pinterest.
Holiday Tips From Southshore
We have a tip for you this holiday season at the lakeside master-planned community in Aurora: Live Southshore! If you don’t already live here, tour the stunning models at Village Homes, and study the floor plans by Richmond American Homes. Ranch and two-story models are priced from the $400s and there are lots of quick move-in options.