Creative Ways to Spend Less this Holiday Season

By Rachel Caballero, Community Development Manager, TruWest Credit Union

The holiday season is for creating magic, joy, and memorable moments with loved ones. It can also be a season of financial strain if not intentional around spending. With a little creativity, planning, and resourcefulness, you can enjoy the festive season while maintaining your budget and kicking off the new year without holiday debt.

Think about what you would like the holidays to feel like and ask your kids, too. Involve them in the planning and discussions about what they are most excited about regarding the upcoming season. Are they looking forward to watching their favorite holiday movies, enjoying meal and baking traditions, holiday outings or volunteering, or finding or making the perfect gift for someone?

Below are a few ideas to focus on the joy of being together and creative ways to spend less this holiday season.

DIY Deck The Halls

Handmade holiday décor can be so fun to do with the family and can add to the festive feeling in the home. Cozy ideas include making and hanging snowflakes, ornaments, and garlands, creating wreathes, centerpieces, and so much more. There are so many wonderful ideas online that can garner up hours of family fun and creativity and add a little holiday sparkle or flair to your home décor.

Thoughtful Gifting

Giving and receiving gifts during the holiday season is one of the things many people look most forward to. Spoil your loved ones without going into debt by determining your budget ahead of time. Get creative about how to shop for each person on your list. Maybe you will find a gorgeous treasure at a thrift or vintage shop. Perhaps you can create a handmade gift like baked goods or candies, potted plants, or even a specially curated stack of secondhand books fastened with a velvet bow. Or, you can give them the gift of quality time with a promise of a meal or experience together. The extra thought is sure to go a long way!

Unique Handmade Wrapping

Consider handmade or DIY wrapping ideas to create unique and one-of-a-kind gifting. Utilize lovely bits of fabric that may be on hand from another project. Consider brown paper packaging adorned with cinnamon sticks, pine, or holly. Other gifts could be packaged in a beautiful tea towel or creative drawstring bag.

Festive Holiday Meals

Plan well in advance for your holiday meals. What items do you already have in your pantry? What items can you get at lower cost when purchased in bulk? What seasonal or local produce will be available? Consider holiday dishes that utilize overlapping ingredients. While hosting responsibilities make it harder to scale back, consider asking loved ones to bring a small dish (perhaps their favorite holiday side or salad).

Holly Jolly Parties

Festive parties are a great way to bring holiday cheer. Determine your holiday party budget and creatively work within it. Make purchases based on priorities first. Consider a hot cocoa bar with gorgeous garnishes (marshmallows, candy canes, sprinkles) rather than serving alcohol or mixed drinks. Limit gifting by organizing a holiday cookie or white elephant gift exchange. Make your dishes simple favorites that are easy to prepare early. Bring out the sparklers at the end of the night for added merriment.

Free or Low-Cost Activities

Create an essence of togetherness by taking advantage of the free holiday experiences you and your family can enjoy. Stroll through your neighborhood to see the beautiful lights and decorations. Enjoy a local church or school holiday program or pageant. Visit a festive shopping center during the holiday events and listen to festive holiday carolers and possibly catch a glimpse of the Jolly man in red.

Enjoy this season of giving in the ways that are most meaningful to your family. Slowing down, creating joyful moments, and being truly present are sure to create lasting holiday memories. Aligning your holiday spending with your values and budget will help you enjoy the season’s offerings that much more.

About TruWest Credit Union

TruWest® Credit Union is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz. and operates as a cooperative providing its members with a lifetime of quality financial services and a culture of caring for its organization, employees and communities. TruWest is a strong and sound financial institution with more than 93,000 members and assets totaling more than $1.5 billion. TruWest Credit Union has 11 branch locations—eight in metro Phoenix and three in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit