Tips for Being Prepared for the Holiday Season

According to Bankrate’s 2018 Holiday Gifting Survey, more than 2 in 5 gift shoppers feel pressured to spend more on gifts than they are comfortable with. Most Americans, myself included, add more gifts to the pile because they feel it is an expression of the value they place on the relationship. But what if we looked at gift-giving more rationally? It shouldn’t cause debt or distress – is that what the receiver would want? It’s not just gift-giving – the holidays can easily result in overspending in many areas. The following tips allow you to enjoy the season while lessening the negative impact on your finances.

Gift-giving should be fun and feel good.

Research has shown that giving gifts lifts your mood, elevates self-esteem, strengthens social connections, and more. What is better than shopping for something special that says “I know you”? The best gifts often come in small, yet meaningful, packages. Regardless of your budget, you will always shine if you put thought into your gift and enjoy giving it. 

Want to take a little financial stress out of giving? My suggestion is, you guessed it, to create a budget for it and prepare. If your goal is to have enough funds to be comfortable with splurging at the holidays, start 2020 by opening a separate bank account that is earmarked for holiday gift-giving. Most financial institutions have low or no-fee accounts that can make it easy. Add what you can afford with an automatic transfer from payroll or in online banking. If you save 20 bucks for 25 pay periods, you will have $500.00 set aside. Do you like to go all out for birthdays and anniversaries? Simply add an additional account. When you’re ready to shop, all you need to do is transfer the funds into your checking account – and swipe!

Hosting this season?  How to “dazzle” on a dime

We all know throwing a party comes with a cost. The best advice I was given was to focus on what we want people to remember when they leave. For me, that means music, drinks, and food. 

The biggest key to preserving your party fund is to plan. Before the invites have been sent, create a list of what you want the get-together to entail. This will prevent you from that mad dash through the party supply and grocery store. Believe me – I have done many a last-minute dash and spent way too much as a result. 

Listen to your friends. They want to bring something – so let them. When everyone contributes it usually takes off some pressure both financially and timewise. 

Focus on the music and activities to engage guests. A playlist can cost nothing but can do everything to create an atmosphere of fun or relaxation. Add a game or activity (like charades or trivia) that engages a group and gets people connecting and laughing. Again – it comes at virtually no cost.

Going out? Go all out!

For those grand occasions, we want to look our best. The way you dress can set the stage for how you feel at the party. Looking good can be pricey – and if you can afford it, why not? But for many, overspending on one night out seems shortsighted. These tips can help you keep your event spending under control:

Be you—not a brand

Flashing your unique style and finesse doesn’t have to come with a name-brand price tag. Some of the most impressive looks I have seen or have worn myself have come from mixing and matching items already in your closet. Add flair to your standard black dress or suit by accessorizing with flashy shoes, a unique tie, or eye-catching earrings. 

Trade with friends 

As a teen, we did this all the time so what happens in adulthood? I have gotten many a compliment on a dress that I have worn to an event and said, ”Thanks, you should borrow it!” My phone has never rung. It should, though. I have often wished that my faves could get more use.

Wear it like you own it!

For formal occasions, I have had success with renting gowns and higher-end items (including jewelry) from services like Rent the Runway. It feels great to walk into an event decked out in a designer dress that I would never dream of splurging on. I also value not looking at that same dress in my closet wishing I had somewhere else to wear it. If you have never tried this route, give it a whirl. They have options for receiving multiple sizes and various return policies so you can feel confident in giving it a try! For a good list of clothing rental services check out and search for their article 10 Online Clothing Rental Places so you can Sustainably Indulge in Your Love of Fashion.


Amy Persyn is the Director of Marketing at First State Bank.