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                4 min read

                Last-Minute Holiday Hacks

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                The holidays are almost here, and if the pressures of hosting and gift-buying are sucking all the cheer out of the season for you, we can help! With a few strategic tips and hacks, you can have a truly joyous holiday season that’s free of stress and light on the budget. Let’s take a look at 10 last-minute holiday hacks to help put the cheer back in this time of year. 

                1. Plan and prioritize

                The first item on your to-do list should be the creation of a detailed plan for the holidays. Make a comprehensive list, or several of them, for tasks that need to be tackled before Christmas. Include all the baking or cooking, guest room prep, decor and gift shopping and anything else you may need. Don’t leave anything out!

                1. Divide and conquer

                Now that you have a full list of what has to happen between now and the big day, get some help! Look through your list to see what can be delegated, and ask your guests to chip in in some way. For example, you can have everyone bring one dish for Christmas dinner, ask someone to bring the beverages or assign all the decor to another guest. This will help you cross more items off your list sooner, and help your guests feel like they’re part of the planning. 

                1. Stock your pantry with staples

                It’s a good idea to make sure your pantry and fridge are well-stocked with staples and dry goods before the holidays. This way, your guests can help themselves to late-night snacks and more. For example, if you’ve stocked up on juice, milk, oats, eggs and jams, you can set up a breakfast basket for your guests to serve themselves breakfast without your involvement. 

                1. Go simple

                Drop the need to impress with the best and opt for a simpler menu. Focus on a few standout dishes you can be sure your guests will love instead of slaving over an elaborate, gourmet menu. Alternatively, serve meals buffet-style with a few choices of finger foods your guests can serve themselves. A simpler menu will mean less stress for you, and it will likely be easier on the budget, too.

                1. Shop sales and discounts

                As always, when shopping for the holidays, don’t forget to shop the sales and use any available discounts. Start shopping early so you can take full advantage of any sales offered as they go live. You can sign up for sale alerts from your favorite retailers and check out their sites for sale events. Also, you can grab what you need at a lower price. It’s also a good idea to use cash-back apps, like Ibotta and Shopkick, to put more money back in your pocket. 

                1. Aim for small touches when hosting

                You don’t have to spend a lot of money or a lot of time to make your guests feel at home. Small things, like leaving a spare charger and some bottled water in their bedroom, will make a big difference to their stay. You can also add a bouquet of fresh flowers, play some relaxing music in the evenings and provide a small basket with basic travel-sized toiletries in case they left something at home. Remember: it’s the small things that make a big difference. 

                1. Suggest a secret Santa swap

                To minimize the amount of gifts you’ll need to buy, consider suggesting a gift exchange for groups of acquaintances in your life, such as your co-workers. This way, you’ll only need to buy one gift for the entire group. 

                1. DIY

                A DIY gift can be so much more than a plate of homemade cookies. You can present a recipient with a scrapbook of all your shared memories, fashion a framed photo out of craft supplies you have in the house or even cook up your friend’s favorite meal and deliver it to their door sometime during Christmas time. 

                DIY can work for decor, too. It isn’t as hard as you may think it is to make your own wreaths, table centerpieces and ornaments by using affordable craft supplies or items you already have at home. 

                1. Shop late

                When shopping for food items, it’s a good idea to start early so you can take advantage of sales, but gifts can often be gotten for cheaper when it’s closer to the holidays. Toys, for example, always go on sale in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and other gift items will be marked down at this time, too, as retailers are feeling pressured to move holiday items before the season is over. 

                1. Borrow instead of buying

                If you’ll be hosting this season, consider borrowing items like chairs, tables, servingware and even decor. This way, you won’t have to invest in items you’ll only use occasionally.

                Hosting a memorable holiday gathering doesn’t have to be a financial or logistical burden. Use these tips for a stress-free holiday that doesn’t break the budget. 

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