Do This Not That: 8 Ways to Avoid Wasting Time & Money This Holiday Season

During the holiday season, there are two very essential things that never seems to be enough: time and money! With the crowded stores, fast-approaching holiday deadlines, and the rush to shop until you drop, the entire season can feel like a frenzy. Before you head into the hectic season, here are a few suggestions for easy ways to switch rushed decisions with well-planned alternatives.

1. Don’t: Run Around Last Minute for Forgotten Items

Who among us hasn’t forgotten to grab a gift or grocery item during the holiday craze that hits shortly after October ends? Unfortunately, it’s common to waste more time and energy by back-tracking to the already-crowded stores for that single item that was forgotten.

Do: Plan Your Holidays & Set To-Do Lists

As soon as you have finalized your holiday plans, sit down with your calendar and set a timeline for when you must have certain things taken care of. By scheduling in the time needed to be ready for your holiday commitments, you will have more time to enjoy your family and friends’ company.

2. Don’t: Say Yes to Everything

It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying yes to every holiday gathering, but that can quickly lead to exhaustion and burnout instead of enjoying the season.

Do: Set Priorities and Say No to Any Plans That Don’t Work

Talk to your family about what they hope to do during the holidays and then set a mental list of priorities. When you’re invited to something that falls outside of your priorities, thank the host but decline (Talent Egg, 20131).

3. Don’t: Waste Time at Crowded Stores

There is nothing more frustrating than walking into a grocery or department store and finding what you need is already sold out or that the checkout line is too long to wait.

Do: Shop Online for Pickup or Delivery

Most if not all shopping can now be done online with options to ship directly to your home or to a local store for pickup. In some cases, you can even send the gift directly to the recipient with it already gift-wrapped!

4. Don’t: Shop Without a Clear Purpose

When was the last time you ran into the store for “just one thing” and yet left an hour later with more than you needed?

Do: Shop with a List

Every time before you head to the store, take five minutes to write down all items needed and then stay on task when in the store to save both time and money!

5. Don’t: Wait to Buy All Gifts

We’ve all been guilty of waiting until the last minute to purchase gifts for family and friends, but this can be an expensive mistake during the holidays.

Do: Purchase All Gifts Outside of the Peak Season

Planning ahead always includes purchasing those needed gifts well ahead of time. Research what’s on your family and friends’ wish lists, gather ideas and take advantage of any sales you come across.

6. Don’t Create a Full Holiday Feast Alone

A full dinner for eight or more guests can be very expensive and time consuming for one person to handle.

Do: Host a Holiday “Potluck”

Ask each guest to bring a specific dish or dessert to comprise an entire feast for the whole group to enjoy. The financial burden and labor will be evenly distributed among guests, and it can also be a fun way to try new foods and traditions.

7. Don’t: Buy & Mail Holiday Cards

The expenses can quickly add up when purchasing and mailing individual holiday cards, and overall the process is time-consuming.

Do: Send an eCard for Free

There are many festive holiday eCards to choose and send to family and friends for free. All you need are the necessary email addresses and a few minutes to compile the eCard’s contents (The Balance, 20192).

8. Don’t: Keep Using Credit Cards Without Tracking Expenses

It can be painful to see just how much money we are spending throughout the holiday season, so sometimes we just don’t look!

Do: Set a Budget and Use Cash

When you set a budget for each category of expenses, you can easily track what your spending is throughout the last month of the year. Use cash to help stay true to the budget that you’ve set and keep your credit cards as an emergency back-up (CBS News, 20113).

Wasting both time and money during this busy time of year can rob you of your holiday spirit and produce more stress than joy. Take time to plan what needs to be done for impending celebrations so you can be completely present throughout the holidays. Spend the precious time you have in December to focus on what’s most important: family.

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Content Sources
1 - Mandel, Shannon (2013, December), Tired Of Wasting Time On The Holiday Break?, retrieved from
2 - Caldwell, Miriam (2019, July), 5 Ways to Save Money on Christmas Gifts, retrieved from
3 - Pagliarini, Robert (2011, June), 10 Easy Tips to Save Money This Christmas, retrieved from