We all dream about having a wonderful, carefree life when we retire, but the reality is that many  seniors live on a limited income. Whether we are buying items for everyday necessities or for special occasions, we want to find ways to get the best value for our fixed monthly income.

Don’t let preparing for the holiday season while living on a limited income overwhelm you. There are ways to join in the excitement of the season without overspending or going into debt. In fact, some of the following tips can make your holidays special with only the cost of a postage stamp or gift wrapping.

Preparing for the Holidays on a Limited Income

1. Start your holiday preparations by making a few lists:
You can stay within your holiday budget when you carefully prepare for all of the anticipated gatherings planned for the holiday season. Making lists for each type of expenditure gives you a black-and-white view of your plans. So, before you go out and buy something that may not be needed or something that will put you in debt, make a few lists.

— One list will be for the amount of money that you can comfortably afford to spend for the seasonal gatherings and gift-giving. The list can contain a budget for ingredients needed for cooking and baking. It can also include the cost of wines and liqueurs for use in entertaining and for gift-giving.

–On a second list write the names of all the family members and friends that you want to present with a gift. Your list can include the postal carrier, the newspaper delivery person, and the trash collectors. The important thing about this list is that you get to decide whether to buy or not to buy something for each person. See our Number 3 suggestions for no-cost holiday gift preparations listed below.

–A third list can lay out all the events that you will be attending. Include a note on whether you will be bringing a gift or a dish with you when going to someone else’s home. Write in the number of guests you expect to come to your home when you are hosting a meal or party.

2. Holiday buying preparations:
Once you have decided what food and drinks to buy and who will get a store brought present and how much you will spend on the gift, you can stretch your limited budget with the following suggestions.

–Shop early and only buy gifts when they are on sale or when the store offers senior discounts.

–Talk with family members about sharing the cost of a gift for one or more special people. A group gift can be several board games, jigsaw puzzles, books, or movies that the recipients can all play, read, or watch together.

–Suggest that everyone pick the name of one person for a gift exchange if there is going to be a family day gathering where there will be food and gift openings.

–Suggest that everyone gathering for a party or a holiday meal bring a dish or drink to share. This idea works whether the food and drinks will be enjoyed at your home or someone else’s home. A holiday get-together is a perfect time for people to make a favorite dish or a special traditional dessert to share with loved ones.

3. No-cost holiday gift preparations:
Because finances are always a major concern for retired seniors living on a limited income, you might consider trying one or more of the following no-cost gift ideas.

–Handmade gifts are always a special treat. These types of gifts can be sewn, knitted, crocheted, a painted picture, wood or metal work, homegrown herbs or spices, canned vegetables, home-brewed craft beer, wine, paper crafts, photography, or any other handwork that you have designed or made with your own two hands. Wrapped with a pretty bow, your gift will be greatly appreciated.

–Instead of leaving a family heirloom to someone in your will, give the item now as a special from-my-heart-to-yours gift that can be used or treasured now by your special someone. If there is a story that goes with the item, write it down so that the history of your heirloom will be remembered.

–Share your special recipe for a family favorite baked good or cooked dish. Print out the recipe and include it as a personal gift placed inside a lovely greeting card. Personal cards with secret recipes, an old family picture, or a special story about your family history are gifts that will last a lifetime and can be handed down to future generations.

–If baking is your special talent, you can organize a family baking party where you provide the oven and the baking tins while everyone who wants to learn your techniques can bring the ingredients needed for their finished products. You might want to serve hot coffee or tea to the adults and hot chocolate to the new, younger bakers. Everyone will have a wonderful afternoon talking, baking, and tasting the finished items. If more baked goods are made than can be reasonably eaten by the different families, everyone can agree to donate the extra pastries to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Giving to people who have less than you do will warm your heart and help feed the less fortunate individuals.

Bottom Line
When you are one of the many retired seniors living on a limited income you can still fully anticipate and join in the excitement of the holiday season. Preparing for the holidays can be a labor of love rather than a chore to be avoided. Just follow the lead of the jolly old gentleman who lives at the North Pole by making a list and checking it twice.

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