Getting ready for Christmas time is an essential step to make your holidays unforgettable, look for the best ways to simplify this process. In this article, you will learn:
- Where to go for Christmas holidays
- How to spend Christmas on a budget
- How to make Christmas stress free (gifts, foods, decorations, etc.)
Christmas season is high time for most people. It is filled with cheer and wonder, happiness and hope. According to Statista.com, Christmas is a favorite holiday for 46% of Americans. 95 % of them celebrate it. Emotions run high during the holidays including feelings of love, happiness, and high spirits. People install Christmas trees, decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts.
However, holidays are a busy time which adds an additional layer of stress. According to Holiday Stress Report, 68 % of people feel often/sometimes fatigue and 61% stress. The leading holiday stressors are time (67 %), money (62 %), and commercialism or hype (53 %).
Where to go on holiday for Christmas. Best Christmas locations
30 % of people prefer to go away for holidays. And it is not surprising! Some of America's towns become fairy-tale homes with their streets full of twinkling lights, window decorations, holiday markets and towering Christmas trees. Let’s look at the best Christmas locations this year:
- McAdenville, North Carolina, which becomes Christmas Town USA during the holiday season. 450,000 lights decorate this village. The favorite spots are the lake and fountain which lit with vibrant colors every 10 seconds. You can get free hot chocolate and kettle corn being among the first 1,000 in attendance each night.
- Nevada City, California, conducts an annual Victorian Christmas festival. Their Chamber of Commerce is "a genuine Christmas card come to life". The city becomes a winter wonderland with twinkling white lights, authentic gas lamps, and carolers dressed in Victorian apparel.
- Washington, D.C., sparkles with Georgetown GLOW: a light art exhibition which features nine installations by local and international artists, with works lit from 5 - 10 pm nightly.
- Orlando, Florida, is no doubt the best Christmas location for kids. Children will love Walt Disney World events, like Macy's Holiday Parade, Grinchmas at Universal Orlando and Sea World's Holiday Celebration. Disney World's Magic Kingdom is already ready for Christmas.
- Berea, Kentucky, offers Festive workshops "12 days of Christmas". The town also conducts annual Twilight Christmas parade. Center Stage presents “A Celtic Angels Christmas”.
- Asheville, NC, attracts visitors by Biltmore, the historic Vanderbilt mansion where people can spend Candlelight Christmas evenings. Another spot is Santa rappel down Chimney Rock. Mr. Claus will rappel from the top of Chimney Rock at 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM while spectators gather in front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts (parking area) for live holiday music, refreshments and kids’ activities. Santa will be available in front of Cliff Dwellers Gifts for a photo shoot between practice rounds. Mrs. Claus will serve cookies and hot cocoa. Also make sure to attend a variety of animal education programs by a park naturalist.
- Sumter, South Carolina, opens the holiday season by the annual Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights. For the entire month of December, the gardens come alive with a display of twinkling holiday imagery created with more than one million lights.
- Frankenmuth, Michigan, is known as Little Bavaria. The celebrations include a traditional Christkindlmarkt, a holiday home tour hosted by the Frankenmuth Women's Club, whimsical light displays, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland — the world's largest Christmas store.
- Durango, CO, gives the opportunity to become a part of the award winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, and the run-away hit movie starring Tom Hanks. You can make a magical round trip journey to the North Pole aboard the historic Durango and Silverton Train.
While Santa is moving through the cars, a song leader in each car will pass out song books and leads the group in Christmas Carols on the return trip back to the Durango Train Depot.
- Santa Claus, Indiana, is a town with year-round Christmas. Children can visit the Santa Claus Museum & Village and write free letters to Santa from the original Santa Claus Post Office. You can find schedule and information on how to write a letter to Santa in order to receive a reply. People can also visit Colonel Jones home, a themed parade, a candy castle and many other events.
Christmas on a Budget
Before the holiday season, people concern if they can afford the holidays. According to the research, 76% of them worry about money. Christmas becomes a popular time to travel, and there are ways to make Christmas celebration affordable if you know where to go on holiday for Christmas and how to find the best Christmas locations. The main tip to make your Christmas on a budget is to book early. As for flights, there is a spot between 3 and 15 weeks before the holiday where fares are the lowest. You can choose one of the following relatively cheap resort areas where the weather is warm even in December:
- Panama City, Panama. Average December temperature is 90°F. The country provides reasonable prices for Christmas time which start from US$33 per night for two people.
- Cartagena, Colombia. Average December temperature is 86°F. The hotel prices start from US$52 per night for two people.
- Roatán Island, Honduras. Average December temperature is 84°F. The hotel prices start from US$79 per night for two people.
- Punta Cana/Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The country’s features are loads of sunshine and high temperatures all-year-round. Average temperature is 75°F. Hotel prices start from: US$94 per night for two people. Another advantage is the flight+hotel packages which are beneficial.
- Puerto Vallarta/Cancun/, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Mexico. The weather during Christmas time is pleasant. Average December temperature is 84°F. Hotel prices start from US$100 per night per couple. Chain hotels prices are at least a bit more.
- Ambergris Caye/Caye Caulker, Belize. The average temperature in December is 81°F. 3-star hotels start from US$180 per night for two people. This island country offers good spots for diving and snorkeling.
However, traveling is still a costly way of spending a holiday. If you have no money for Christmas, think about cheap or super cheap activities provided in your area. Here are some ideas where to go on holiday for Christmas:
- Christmas parades. Most cities, but especially small towns, offer Christmas fun for free.
- Bass Pro free Free Santa. Kids will love to visit Santa with their parents to get a free photo. The store offers winter wonderland with a carousel and free crafts.
- Ice Skating. Most cities set up special ice skating rinks for the holidays. You only have to pay for renting skates.
- Candy Cane Tour. Thousands of kids and adults visit Hammond’s every year to watch as their favorite treats are pulled, twisted, shaped and packaged by hand.
- Watching Christmas movies and getting out there to carol. A family sing-along and good Christmas movies create unforgettable memories and feeling of happiness.
No money for Christmas means you should think of money saving. Here are some ideas:
- Calculate your budget.
- Use the benefits of sales, offers, discount and deals provided on Christmas among which are:
- - Green Monday is held the second Monday of every December. Retailers offer 20% to 50% in discounts for toys and electronics on this day
- - Free Shipping Day on the 15th of December. It is a national shopping holiday and a year-round coupon website. It provides users with resource for online savings, coupons and free shipping codes from top retail partners and niche e-retailers.
- - Super Saturday (Saturday before Christmas). Retailers provide some last minute savings on this day.
- - The day after Christmas also tends to offer amazing deals and discounts. You can stock up on Christmas decorations and wrapping paper, as well as any other Christmas-themed items. You can also buy winter clothing because stores start clearing out their winter items for spring season.
- Put some money in a savings bank account. Choose a bank that pays you just to open one. Some of the banks pay up to $250. Sign up for your bank account on a period that gives you opportunity to get bonuses right on Christmas.
- Use tools like Qapital which help save money for the things you want.
- Find big discounts at online outlet stores.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Set up a tradition of Secret Santa (a group of work colleagues, friends, etc. set a budget, secretly draw names for who needs to buy for whom). As a result, you buy only one present.
- Watch this video for other clever ways to save money:
Tips for Stress Free Christmas
American Psychological Association admits that stress and holidays go hand-in-hand. Your busy schedule becomes even busier with celebrations. Preparing for Christmas looks like tasks at work: you need to keep in mind lots of things. So, there are some tips to have stress free Christmas:
Christmas gift and gift wrapping ideas.
- Establish a definite dollars limit for the individual gifts.
- Choose a gift card which allows the receiver to pick his or her perfect gift.
- Shop online as it is faster, sometimes cheaper, and more convenient. But pay attention to scammers. Christmas is a high season for holidays scams.
- Use price comparison apps like ShopSavvy, ScanLife, Price.com, etc. which help scout out deals on holiday shopping season.
- Download a map of your local mall’s stores from their website. Think of the paths and make a list of potential presents.
- Use free gift wrapping with each purchase which many retailers offer as an in-house service.
- Think of how to make something special. There are many hand-me-down and do-it-yourself items. Tree decoration, homemade ornaments, making paper snowflakes, creating hand-made gifts, baking and decorating cookies – all these help us get in the Christmas spirit, even if you have no money for Christmas.
- Send a personal note and a signature on a unique card or a letter chronicling family/personal events of the previous year mailed to family and friends.
- Write a free letter to Santa. And Santa will write back. Santa's Address:
325 S. Santa Claus Lane North Pole, Alaska 99705
Decorations and parties.
- Hire a Cleaning Service. It can be expensive but may give you extra time for holiday preparation.
- Use benefits of party supplies companies. They can help with all kinds of decorations, balloons, trees, etc. However, it is recommended to read reviews about the chosen companies to prevent bad service. This person shares an experience of facing an unprocessed order with Party City party supplies. He/she wrote,
“I went to the store around 2:30 to order balloons for pick up at 7:30.When I got there my balloon bouquets were not ready. My order was “accidentally” put in the Saturday bin”.
- Install the Christmas Tree. If you have no money, the best choice is an artificial tree. It is stored, reused for years and lessen holiday expenses. Nevertheless, check out your tree properly. It is good to read reviews about companies. In this review, the person wrote about Polygroup Christmas tree,
“Christmas tree came with lights installed. One section of lights did not work. I have spent two days trying to fix the problem (checked all fuses, plugged and unplugged each section, checked bulbs) nothing worked”.
The company didn’t give any contact information, except the telephone number which didn’t answer. Another person complains about a "crooked tree". He/she addressed the Balsam Hill customer service. The consumer wrote,
“They told me they would only replace the tip because it supposedly looks like it's the tip that's making the tree look crooked. I tried to explain I can clearly see the trunk of the tree and it's crooked the whole way down and they said they can only replace the tip in 10 months from now!!”
- Spread your food preparation over several weekends before the holiday season. You can make, place in pans and freeze rolls, cakes, muffins, etc., sometime before serving. Jamie Oliver, the culinary superstar, shares his secret,
“I like to get enough work done ahead so that on the day itself, it’s just a matter of throwing it in the oven, some basic timing and letting people help themselves. The week before Christmas Day, I get all my bits and pieces ready and get all my timings down on a piece of A4 paper. We do all the home delivery heavy stuff then too”.
- Order complete meals in grocery stores and restaurants, as they offer holiday specials which you can pick up the day before Christmas.
- Share duties between family members. Make a chart with duties, tasks and responsibilities of your family members the members of your family for Christmas, for example,the mother is responsible for cooking, the children – for decorating, the father – for shopping.
Christmas is a precious, and at the same time, hectic period. It can become a magic time-spending on the sea/ocean shore or an unforgettable celebration with your family at home despite any budget issues. Planning and organizing your shopping, cooking, and party can make Christmas stress free, full of joy and fun. Merry Christmas!
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