Hanukkah officially starts December 20th, and already I'm receiving emails from people looking to keep their spending lower than in years past. Hanukkah may last for eight fabulous nights, but it doesn't mean you have to emerge broke on the other side of it. With some simple, easy spending strategies, your holiday can be a wonderful affair, but require only a fraction of the cash!
The Food -
Okay, I have friends who have always been master cooks, but around Hanukkah I know a few who take it to an art form. Latkes,
doughnuts, anything and everything fried in oil taste like they belong on a dessert cart at the Four Seasons. I've asked their secrets on occasion, and I'm always told they cook with only the best ingredients, usually purchased in rather pricey custom groceries. Now, if you're cooking Kosher, you do indeed have to hit some specialized stores, but even famous online kosher groceries have sales pretty regularly (example: check out http://www.kosher.com). As for your local kosher groceries, keep up to date on their sales and be sure to schedule your shopping trips around those sale items you'll use the most. If you have a bit of cooking latitude working in your favor (you're cooking for Hanukkah but not cooking Kosher), then resources are everywhere to bring down your food bill considerably! Best bet: hit your local discount gourmet grocery's kosher aisle. Every single discount grocery I visit has Hanukkah and kosher items. Take a look at the ones nearest you, you might be amazed.
Related: Creamy Noodle Kugel for Hanukkah
The Gifts -
We all want to be generous to friends and family, especially around the holidays. However, that being said, I've heard from way too many
people whose lovely generosity was always surpassed by a crushing post-holiday spending hangover, usually coinciding with January's credit card bills. By all means, be generous and buy gifts that friends and family will love - simply find them for less! Regardless of where you live, chances are excellent that untapped gift resources are everywhere to find all of your favorite designer names for greatly reduced prices. My best tip is always to find your local thrift stores and consignment stores, where fashion meets frugal fabulousness. Examples? Try the Jimmy Choo boots I found for my sister, which I'm guessing retail for a bit more than the $2 I
purchased them for. More examples? How about Louis Vuitton & Coach bags, Ralph Lauren scarves, cashmere sweaters, golf shirts from the Masters, bestselling books, outstanding DVD's and more, easily for 95% off the retail price, and often with the original tags still attached. Get yourself to your nearest shops, and see which ones best fit your needs.
The Kids -
Everyone wants to make the holidays a spectacular time for the kids, but there's no need to equate "WOW, this is GREAT!" with "Let's
overspend". Trust me, down the road, they'll be glad you sunk the bulk of your extra income into a college account year after year rather than in the latest holiday gadget that gets outdated within a half hour. Stick to the same consignment and thrift stores where you find friend's and family's gifts for 95% off, and you'll no doubt run across kid's clothes, gadgets, jewelry and electronics that will dazzle. I've also heard charming comments from people my age who are reverting back to the Hanukkah gelt gifts consisting entirely out of chocolate coins, rather than actual money. Now, if you're a parent or grandparent with a lot of wiggle room in your budget, by all means go for a couple of real coins. But note, I'm in my forties, and I'd shriek with delight if someone gave me a bag filled with chocolate.
Above all else, remember that the holiday is about friends, family (and perhaps a touch of fabulous food). Happy Hanukkah!
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