FORT KNOX, Ky. – There’s no sugar-cookie-coating it: the holidays can be very expensive.
Among the travel costs, family gatherings, office parties and, of course, loads of gifts, we’re all draining our already strained pocketbooks this time of the year. Be that as it may, I’ve discovered some resourceful ways to save money while still showing immense generosity and kindness throughout the season.
Planning ahead can be a crucial first step in helping to not spend so much. Taking the initiative to shop throughout the year, watch for sale prices and set a budget in advance can all lessen the financial burden over the holidays. Even if it’s late in the game at this point, thinking about those plans going into next year can help in the future.
Many banks will allow their customers to create separate savings accounts for dedicated purposes, such as Christmas funds. Setting money aside in such an account throughout the year can be another way to ensure extra capital is accessible come shopping time.
For those of us who weren’t able to get a step ahead this year though, there are still numerous opportunities to be more frugal when coming up with gift ideas for friends and family – some of which are right here at Fort Knox.
According to Hansen Consignment Store manager Heidi Wadsworth, a great deal of Fort Knox community members may not realize the advantages her business provides, or for some, that it exists at all.
“We’re the largest consignment store in the area,” said Wadsworth. “There are so many things here that make great gifts. We even have lots of items that are brand new.”
In addition to the shopping option Hansen offers, it’s also a way for anyone holding a valid Department of Defense card to bring items in good condition they don’t use anymore in to consign and potentially make some extra money.
“The customer sets the price,” said Thomas. “We do make suggestions, but that’s it. It’s up to the customer.”
Wadsworth said she posts additional details and has Hansen contact information on the consignment store Facebook page for anyone interested in either shopping or consigning something, but highly recommends simply stopping in to see how many excellent gift possibilities they have.
While Hansen offers a place to shop for gifts, there is also an extraordinary organization on post dedicated to assisting Fort Knox Families who are experiencing a hardship during the holidays and may need help giving their children a special Christmas. American Red Cross volunteer Angie Thomas said every year, Santa’s Workshop collects donated gifts for children ages 0-18.
“Santa’s Workshop is a Red Cross program that helps military Families in need have a joyous holiday,” said Thomas. “Last year we were able to reach 231 kids from 17 different units right here at Fort Knox.”
Although the deadline to submit applications initially closed in mid-November, Thomas said those in need should still reach out.
“We just extended in order to reach the max population in the Fort Knox community,” said Thomas. “If an application comes in after the deadline, we’ll still look at those on a case-by-case basis. If you’re in need this holiday season, please definitely apply.”
Thomas said thanks to the abundance of donations, they are able to provide each child with multiple gifts. She and other Red Cross volunteers post all updates and information to the Santa’s Workshop Facebook page, and welcome any Family who may need extra help with gifts for their children to contact them.
In addition to what’s available at Fort Knox, there are also some creative present ideas that, while being less expensive than other store-bought items, can be just as if not more meaningful.
One suggestion is to give the gift of your time and/or service. Oftentimes, our loved ones may have tasks and odd jobs they need taken care of in one form or another. By offering to do the work for them as opposed to tackling it themselves or having to hire an outside company, you’ve given them a wonderful gift they truly need.
Another thought is to make or bake something to eat, then wrap it to give it a festive presentation. The recipients will be grateful for the time taken to prepare delicious goodies, not to mention then getting to enjoy them.
The wrapping itself can also be a cost that adds up quickly. If you choose to wrap gifts in brown paper and use simple twine to tie them, it can give them a rustic look while also saving money. Add freshly trimmed greenery or pinecones from your own backyard to achieve a true Christmas feel.
With larger groups, organize gift exchanges such as Secret Santa or white elephant events. Both allow for the need of only one gift rather than for each person, and white elephant can also be a fun regifting holiday experience (and therefore no cost whatsoever!) that tends to be entertaining and packed with laughter.
When it comes to the holidays, the main thing to remember is that there are many ways to spend less money and still be exceptionally giving toward those you care about. Just as Dr. Seuss showed us:
“’Maybe Christmas,’ the Grinch thought, ‘doesn’t come from store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.’”