How to create a memorable festive season on a minimal budget

From gift giving to spending time out, the festive season can be costly. Picture: Unsplash

From gift giving to spending time out, the festive season can be costly. Picture: Unsplash

Published Dec 14, 2023


With the holiday season upon us, many of us find ourselves in a precarious financial position. The realisation that the year is ending is accompanied by the stark awareness that budgets are stretched thin.

So there’s little money for gifts and family gatherings once we’ve paid our bills.

According to, a platform that helps South Africans to make good money choice, with careful planning, plenty of creativity, and the involvement of family and friends, a joyful yet affordable holiday season is within reach.

Shafeeka Anthony, marketing manager of, said the most meaningful aspects of the holiday season usually revolve around time spent with loved ones, and the care that goes into creating celebrations, rather than the financial value of the gifts and decorations.

If you’re looking for ideas on creating a budget-friendly, unforgettable holiday, here are some tips, according to Anthony.

Set a realistic budget

Decide on the total amount you can afford to spend over the season. Break that amount into categories, such as food, transport, gifts, and decorations.

Use frequent flyer miles or rewards

If family gatherings are far away, use loyalty points to offset your travel costs. Once at your location, share lifts to limit transportation expenses.

Produce your own gifts

Sew, bake, and garden to create personal presents such as clothing, biscuits, sweets, and potted plants.

Make the decorations

Create your own decorations using materials such as fabric, paper, foil, and recycled items. Make this a fun, bonding experience by involving family members.

Suggest Secret-Santa gifting

Ask everyone to bring a gift, which is randomly assigned to another guest. This reduces the number of gifts each person needs to buy.

Bring a dish

Host holiday gatherings where each guest contributes a dish. This eases the burden on the host and provides a variety of food choices.

Shop smart

Compare prices online when shopping for holiday essentials. Look for bargains at community markets and charity outlets, and you will also support a good cause.

Discover free or low-cost activities

Attend local community events, such as ceremonies to switch on holiday lights and free music concerts.

Focus on experiences

Plan activities that focus on spending time together, rather than expensive outings. Organise movie and game nights, hikes and picnics.

In conclusion, Anthony said that you should avoid taking on bad debt.

“Buying expensive items such as designer clothing and gadgets on credit may bring happiness in the short term. In the new year, however, you could find yourself with high-interest payments that linger long after the decorations have been taken down,” Anthony added.