Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s often bring together family, friends, fun, and food. Parties filled with sugary treats, glittery decorations, and a spirit of giving is the highlight of the year for many. However, each year, millions of Americans end up with expanded waistlines due to overindulgence and thin wallets due to overspending. Here are a few holiday tips to help manage your waistline and bottom line.
HEALTHIER HOLIDAY PARTIES
If you are the one hosting, use that to your advantage. Hosting puts you in control of what will be served. For example, substitute high-fat or calorie-laden ingredients with healthier choices, such as by using plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream or an egg substitute rather than a whole egg. Also try to prevent yourself from sampling the treats by chewing a piece of gum while cooking.
If you are a guest at a party, follow the healthy tips below so you can enjoy all your holiday parties, while also staying in control of your waistline.
- Do not leave the house on an empty stomach—it encourages overeating.
- Avoid standing near the food table at parties, since it’s a sure-fire way to overindulge.
- Make socializing your top priority; conversation will keep you occupied and away from the food.
- Limit drinking because alcohol can increase hunger and lower your willpower. Additionally, many mixed drinks have just as many calories as your dessert.
- Provide a low-calorie alternative. For example, if you have volunteered to bring a dessert, bring fruit drizzled with chocolate instead of a cheesecake.
- Listen to your stomach. Reduce your portion sizes and stop eating when you feel satisfied rather than stuffed.
BUDGET FRIENDLY HOLIDAY TIPS
The holidays can be a stressful time of year, and money is one of the leading causes of holiday anxiety for Americans. The best time for holiday budgeting begins early in the year, when smart shoppers account for expenses associated with the holiday gift season in their monthly budgets and buy presents here and there throughout the year. Additionally, resourceful budgeters flock to stores AFTER Christmas to scoop up decorations at bargain bin prices with an eye toward future holidays.
However, if you’re like most people, you likely have not planned very far ahead and could find yourself feeling the pinch in January. But don’t despair—with proper accounting and a handful of smart shopping ideas, it is possible to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list and stay within your budget.
Here are a few pointers to help you stick to your holiday budget and manage your seasonal financial stress:
- Make a list and check it twice. Review your shopping list carefully. Does everyone listed on it truly need to be there?
- Set limits. Write down a maximum dollar limit for each person, vow to stay within that limit and then track how much you actually spend.
- Shop early. The best window for holiday shopping is between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1.
- Buy in bulk. Have something on hand for those unexpected presents. A case of wine or elegant candles are great ideas.
- Be realistic. Ask yourself if you can really afford to buy gifts—don’t feel obligated to buy them if you can’t afford them.
- Talk to your friends and family about scaling back. Ask about doing a gift exchange instead of buying gifts for everyone. If you find these things too embarrassing or unworkable consider going the homemade gift route.
- Shop online. Some of the best bargains won’t be found in stores. Many retailers will waive shipping costs during the holidays. Plus, why spend the days before your holiday celebrations wasting gas and battling crowds for items that may not be in stock?
- Get a holiday job. Even with a good budget, the extra holiday shopping can pinch the pocketbook. Consider working a seasonal job.
By following the strategies above, you can avoid putting on holiday weight and prevent a budget crisis after the holidays. The combination of these will help reduce your holiday and post-holiday stress levels so you can enjoy the season.
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