18WT #064:  Holiday Trends, Ways To Save Money,
Family Traditions And More!

November 22, 2022 Patrick Heller / Janet McCue

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18WT 064:  So, every year has its trends and Holiday Season 2022 is no different. For the Thanksgiving Holiday everyone is all about staying home and enjoying that FAMILY MEAL. More than just the family time it is also a very big saver on the budget. Gone are the days of being able to take the family out to a buffet for a Holiday and getting away with just paying $10 to $20 a head. The prices have tripled and then some dear friends. The prices in the metro phoenix area for instance for a good buffet range between $40++ to $195++. And I guarantee that we do not spend anywhere near that per person to cook a homemade dinner. Even with the price of Turkey going up as much as 73%! Last year it was very easy here in the Phoenix are to find a turkey for an average of 99 cents to $1.15 a lb. if you weren’t paying attention. A better price if you used coupons and paid attention to sales. (Digital coupons) This year Turkeys are starting, yes starting at $1.99 a lb.

So, we know a lot of people that used to go do a buffet for thanksgiving (especially) who are now doing it at home. And the best way to save money people are finding out is to do a potluck with your guests. And by that we mean each guest brings a dish. Like your sister brings the green bean casserole that Grandma taught her to make. And your best friend is bringing their favorite family recipe of scalloped corn (Yummm)

This is a great trend in both of our opinions, it once again reiterates the importance of family and gives the family the chance to put the gadgets down and enjoy the family meal and family time. With everyone bringing their favorite side dish or dessert it takes the stress of the host &/or hostess. As the person or couple hosting the dinner there is usually enough stress, that they are very grateful when everyone lends a hand in some way it. Been there, done that.

So, as we have talked with family and friends about the upcoming holidays, we see how people are going back to things they did as kids and passing them down to their children. That was skipped for a while, as if traditions no longer mattered. We still have the same issues, and I am positive their will be some burned turkeys replaced with a lot of side dishes and maybe even a few cans of spam bought in advance. Yes, seen that one as well.

There will be family driving cross country and arriving late no doubt due to a snowstorm or a flat tire. They will be wondering if there will be leftovers or if they will be stuck eating from canned food from a gas station convenience store like out of a movie. There will be many truckers who simply miss the holiday because their load was late. Or maybe their dispatcher gave them the wrong load information or something else, just as irritating. When they arrive around 2am on black Friday, they are probably going to want a cold turkey sandwich, missing dinner does that to a driver.

But let’s not forget a family favorite before anyone leaves on Thanksgiving night. The Secret Santa gift exchange, name exchange. Now if that isn’t enough of a mouthful for you! When our economy was doing a bit better, it seemed that everyone in a family (even large families) were able to buy gifts for everyone else. Now it is more like it used to be, the Secret Santa system.

You know there are basic rules for every gift exchange. Some very basic rules in fact and they make sense, to us at least. Things like setting a dollar limit and sticking to it. Are gag gifts going to be allowed, some families love it, some hate it. Some families say absolutely no clothes. You get the drift here, right? So here you are, late at night on Thanksgiving and before everyone is leaving you are drawing names from a bowl, and someone is drawing for those missing people and setting them aside to get later on.

And thus, begins Black Friday, yes that joyous day of the year when you can feel the love and human kindness. Then you leave the house somewhere between 11pm that night and 3am on Friday morning and go stand outside in a line. For some item that you or someone on your gift list Must have. And we all know how the stores advertise. To me it seems borderline false advertising. Things like the toy your toddler Must have or the 80” flat screen tv for your honey, the highest resolution ever and best sound quality as well. Only on black Friday, limited quantity, first come first serve. The rush of people flying through doors isn’t so bad most of the time now. Not so long-ago people were trampled to death by the crowds going into black Friday sales. And fist fights over the “last pair of” or the last of this item. Lots of people went to jail while Christmas shopping on black Friday.

Ever since covid hit, there seems to be a little more order at the doors for shopping. Just a few years prior, a few of the bigger stores quit opening so early because of all of the protests. Then along came covid and now people don’t want to get that close one another. (I hope that sticks around at least, personal space).

And you realize this does not even bring into account the two Amazon Prime Days, this year. Also, this year I don’t know about other people but I for one am having difficulty keeping track of who has their early sales beginning when. For instance, some big box stores began their black Friday sales in October. Corporate greed in play. But I do not believe there still won’t be some special deals on the actual day.

So here you are shopping not quite as early as maybe 5 years ago. If you even go to a store in person at all this year. So many people are utilizing online shopping, curbside pickup or even delivery service for everything from groceries, to clothes to yes, thanksgiving dinners. 

So, which do you do? Online order and delivery? Everything delivered right to your home. Hot food hot, cold food cold. Some of these places if it is say, office type furniture, will even assemble it for you. Others, where you are buying gifts and having them delivered, will even wrap it for you. Or maybe you are the curbside delivery type. The, I will order it online because I am not going into an actual store or mall (yes some still exist). But I am willing to have curbside pickup, they can put it in the trunk.

And finally, there are the “I will do it the way I always have. I will go to the store and feel it, touch it, try it personally, prior to buying it.” So, regardless of which way, when and where you choose to do your gift shopping and of course your grocery shopping (those cookies aren’t going to magically bake themselves).

So, let’s get back to those gift giving rules. There seems to be those families that have them, set them and stick by them to the T! And if you break the rules on gift giving you are told never again, can you participate in it. But of course, next year it is all forgive and forget. Some families, if everyone doesn’t participate, it is a no -go.

There used to be rules even for Thanksgiving and Christmas entirely. Like everything, everyone interprets them in their own way. Some of the one’s that I have read about or knew were of course price limit on gifts in gift exchanges. And types of gifts in gift exchanges, like nothing practical.

And then on family gifts there were always set ways or plans or rules. Whatever you wanted to call them. Limits between children, limits from children to parents or all the kids got together and bought the parents a big gift. No store-bought baked goods, no store-bought decorations, those had to be D.I.Y. Gifts had to be from the heart, not just a spur of the moment, last minute “I think they will like this thing”.

As kids we had to run gift ideas past our parents. Our parents encouraged home made gifts. My brother made my Mom a pitcher one year, I painted it with fresh mums in it and gave her the painting another. I made one of my brother’s a reversable jean vest another. I made a lot of clothes for my sister and oldest niece as well.

Then as adults there were the no practical gifts as mentioned before. By that it was things like, don’t buy Mom a new vacuum for Christmas, don’t buy Dad a book of car washes. Tools for Dad were great, something Mom might want for the kitchen was great as well.

So, let’s fast forward to present day again. How much are families spending on each other for Christmas this year? We already know that money is a pinch, just because of the cost of groceries alone. So where does that leave the average American family with gifts? Are you going for that big experience again like last year for your kids?

So, check out this fresh statistic from the day research was done! This is just for Christmas!

Because overall product prices are up about 10%, shoppers are likely making fewer purchases and give fewer gifts, while spending roughly as much as they did collectively last year. That breaks down to an average of $1,455 spending this year per household, according to Deloitte's 2022 Holiday Retail Survey.  Americans are expected to purchase an average of nine gifts, down from 16 last year, while also pulling back on non-gift purchases like holiday décor.

"Consumers are going to spend as much as they did last season, but they are limiting the people they're spending on. They only have a certain amount of money, so they have to tighten that list of who they're buying presents for," said Howard Dvorkin, chairman of Debt.com. "Because of the increased pricing, their dollars won't go as far as they did last year."

Inflation is also driving more people to choose gift cards as presents to make it easier to spread their holiday budget. You can use your credit card points on gift cards, as well as getting shopping points when buying them.

More people are learning online on cooking, decorating, and even making some gifts. So, look for homemade wreaths, stockings for the new folks in your life (girlfriends, new kids).  Less people buying pies from expensive bakeries, premade side dishes straight from the freezer sections. Look for a little more home-made touches around the kitchen, the home, and the tree this year.

I like to think of it as a year of renewal. If it goes the way it is being talked of and not quite so commercial (as in everything store bought pre-made) it may renew some of my faith in our country. And basically, in mankind in general.

I learned a new skill this last few years, rolling coins! Because the coin machines charge 10% when you go to a machine and the banks do not take bulk coins anymore. So, think about that as you are looking at your cash on hand for buying gifts and money for food and decorations. If you can spend cash instead of using a credit card, it will cost you less in the long run. That includes rolling coins! There are so many ways to save money and come up with money for your holiday season.  It doesn’t always begin with getting a second job!

With all of that being said, there are of course, trending decorating ideas and gifts (as always) for 2022. So we had already said that Americans in general are spending the same amount as last year. Or about $1455 per family for the season. When you break that down by the proven average percentages which are gifts usually are 65% (945) of spending, food and décor 23% ($335) and other holiday spending is the remaining 12% ($175). Based on what people want for Christmas this year, with gadgets being the biggest trend of all.

Before we get to that though, how about a reminder of a few ways to help reduce spending during the next three holidays? Simple is how it sounds, but in reality some of it can be quite difficult. Especially if you are an impulsive person.

Turns out, you don’t have to be average. You’re in charge of your money and your spending. So, you get to decide if you spend $100 or $1,000 on gifts this year. Just follow these three tips while you’re figuring out how much you’ll spend on Christmas:

Don’t spend more than you can really afford—aka don’t go into debt to fund your Christmas. You don’t need to still be paying off your kid’s new bike come St. Patrick’s Day. Or that necklace for your wife come Halloween of next year.

When you know what you actually have to spend, create a Christmas budget. Then stick to the budget. With it being this close to Christmas already, if you haven’t already started shopping or at least set up a list and budget here is a way to get started.

First go through and figure out how much you need to spend to pay all of your normal bills for the month of December and any you haven’t paid yet for November of course. Then what you have left over after that plus any income you make in between now, and Christmas is what you have to spend on the Holidays. Income minus bills equals Holiday money.

So, now you should have an idea of how much money you have to spend on the holidays, in total. $200, $500, maybe $1000. Whatever it is, it is workable, and you can have a great holiday season no matter your budget. So, for explanation we are going to just believe that you have managed to free up $500 cash. Maybe it is in your checking account, but it adds up to cash and not using a credit card for the season. You will appreciate this with those outrageously rising interest rates on credit cards.

That is the basic amount, put down as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Next, what are you going to need for food for the two holidays and any parties you may be throwing or attending. Next do you need any decorations to add to what you have? Now remember that this doesn’t include your normal meals throughout the month.

But this is in your budget, or in our sample, 23% of your budget a total of $115 should be your food and decorations. How do you save and serve Thanksgiving and Christmas on this, you ask? It is all about where you shop, when you shop, what you are willing to buy generic or store brand items for, and couponing. Some items it is pretty easy, like stuffing, make it yourself. It is the easiest thing in the world to make. Start saving those bread ends now! Another tip, check out those sales where you buy so much and get a free turkey or ham. Get that free Turkey when you buy your regular groceries. If you are having family or friends over for dinner. Everyone brings something, easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Next up is gifts, this is 65% of your Holiday budget, a total of $325. And, wow, do you really need to go into debt for them? No, and here is how you keep from doing so even at this late date. Write down every single person that you need to buy a gift for. Yes, make a written list, columns, so that you can write dollar amounts and gift ideas as well.

 You really do not Need to buy a gift for every single person you work with. Suggest an office Secret Santa or even a White Elephant exchange. It is a fun way to exchange gifts at the office without the stress.

Now for each person on the list, of course put them in priority from top to bottom. Then assign a dollar amount to each person on the list. Make sure the total is equal to or less than your gift budget. Depending on the number of people you are buying for, this could be pretty difficult, especially since every person wants tech gifts or gadgets for Christmas typically. Then if you have money left from one person after you have bought their gift, put it back into your budget so if another gift goes over budget, you still stay within your total budget.

Ok, a few of our other recommendations are buying unique items for each person. Just because they asked for some big expensive tech gadget, doesn’t mean that you need to go broke giving it to them. Yes, even if it is your child, they should grow up realizing that wanting and needing are two different things.

Ok so now you have made it through Thanksgiving weekend and realized that you really didn’t Need three types of pies for eight people, and you had enough food for an army. So what to do? You could begin by looking at the food you have. First off, did you make a bunch of things from scratch? If everyone brought a side dish, you could split up the side dishes for everyone to take home and share. If you made everything yourself from scratch, what is freezable and can be reheated and still have the taste and consistency you want. Well, I know that home-made mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, scalloped corn and home-made bread all can. As well as any pies. If you have enough of these items, you can reheat them for Christmas and add to them with fresh gravy, fresh meat, other sides, etc. what I have done in the past is to re-pan those dishes into smaller dishes that can go directly into the oven on Christmas.

Other items 12% or $60 to me that is the items like the Christmas table cloth or that set of stemware that you wanted to finish off your holiday dishes.

But you are still stuck and do not think you have enough money for Christmas, and it is like two weeks away. What to do? Well, back to the beginning, go through your inventory of everything. First off, are your bills paid? Next do you have your normal food for meals for the month. If so, what do you need for the Christmas day meal? Now is the time to figure it out.

Then go through your Christmas gift list and see how much you spent on each person and what you bought them. Is there any money left over from any person? if so, write it down. Still a little short from what you decided you Really wanted to spend. If you haven’t or didn’t do this at the beginning of November when the Christmas rush was two months or more in; then now is the time to cut back a little more in your regular spending. You know, give up that café latte Grande foo-foo drink that you love and costs somewhere around $7-$10 a cup, a day. What else can you give up making Christmas better? How about pizza night with it being delivered? Make home-made pizza instead. How about giving up eating out for the entire month of December? No more lunches out for work or just because. Save a few bucks and take your own, save a few calories too while you are at it. All of those little extras here and there add up.