No Matter How You Cookie Cutter It, The Holidays Are Going to Cost More Dough

Originally published in November 2022. Article has been updated.

With the increase of prices on goods and services, many Americans are feeling the pinch on their wallets. According to the 2023 Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey, an average of $1,652 will be spent on gifts, decorations, and entertainment this holiday season. This is a 14% increase from last year. In addition, many consumers are planning to incur high-interest consumer debt in order to finance their holidays.

If Santa season has snuck up on you and you’re not sure how to fund the holiday fun, you’re not alone. Many consumers are planning to purchase fewer gifts this year, shop less, and take advantage of applicable sales and promotions.

First Bank would like to provide a few helpful tips to help you navigate the expense of the holiday merriment.

1. ‘Tis the Season to Make a List and Check it Twice!

First and foremost, make a list and a holiday budget! Determine how many people you plan to buy for and the number of gifts you will be purchasing. Allocate the funds you plan to spend for each recipient. Download free apps, like Santa’s Bag or GiftPlanner, to help you stay on track. Don’t want to take your gift list digital? No worries! A pen and paper will work as well! Be sure to add in any anticipated travel, ingredients for holiday meals, needed decorations, and planned activities.

Tip: Invest in timeless holiday decorations, an artificial tree, and storage containers so that they may be used year after year.

Want to analyze your spending and expenses to help you develop a household budget? Use First Bank’s Household Cash Flow Calculator.

2. Shop for the Best Deals and Not Just From Santa’s Workshop!

If you’re accustomed to buying everything from one retailer, consider shopping around. Many stores are pushing out holiday deals and promotions earlier this holiday season versus just waiting for the day after Thanksgiving. Sign-up for online and in-store promotions, utilize digital tools that aggregates the best pricing on the item(s) you are shopping for, and check local buy-sell-trade groups offering favorite toys and technology at deeply discounted prices. Don’t forget to shop local, family-owned businesses, wherever possible.

Tip: Try holiday shopping all at once so you aren’t encouraged to overspend with multiple trips or online orders.

3. Learn How to Bake, Sew, Decorate, and Craft!

Who doesn’t love a homemade treat, dessert, or a tin of holiday cookies? Know how to do woodworking, sew, or make ornaments? If you haven’t honed in your homemade gift skills, consider watching tutorials online, reading a helpful how-to book, or asking a crafty friend to help. Get the kids involved! Wrap and decorate your gifts with handmade cards from your children.

Tip: YouTube videos and Facebook groups are excellent ways to learn a new recipe, craft, or gather homemade gift ideas.

The holidays are meant to be a fun celebration and centered on time with family and friends—not how many gifts are wrapped and given. You shouldn’t let the holiday season derail your long-term financial plans, like contributing to retirement, building up your short or long-term savings, or funding your child’s 529 college savings plan.

Although the holidays are going to cost more dough than last year, be sure to take time to enjoy the magic of the season. With proper planning, the expense of it all won’t dampen your holiday spirit.

Reach out to a trusted First Bank advisor today.