All that money you’ve saved for the past year so you can celebrate the holidays in style goes quickly, especially when you’re buying gifts left and right and planning your warm-weather escape as soon as the tree is tossed out onto the curb. Since you’ve already got a chunk of cash set aside, it’s not a bad idea to save some coin this season while still fitting in some festive fun. Check out these nine ways you can make the yuletide gayer without breaking the bank.
1. Host a Holiday Potluck Dinner
Who doesn’t like to go out for a fancy dinner around the holidays to indulge in life’s tasty pleasures? We all do, but we can’t always afford a $100-plus restaurant or bar tab when Christmas is just around the corner. As an alternative, consider hosting a potluck where each of your guests brings a dish for everyone to enjoy. You can make this a sit-down dinner or keep it informal by using the potluck idea to host a small cocktail party where everyone can chat, drink, and dig into the buffet.
2. Attend an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
Ugly Christmas sweater parties have become somewhat of a tradition over the past few years, so it’s almost guaranteed that there’s one in your area. Check your local LGBT bar calendars online to see if any are on the schedule this season. If you come up short, widen your search to include other establishments. If you settle on a place that isn’t particularly gay, gather your gaggle for a guerrilla effort to make it a night to remember. Find the ugliest Christmas sweaters imaginable at your local thrift shops or online at uglychristmassweater.com
3. Schedule a Holiday Movie Marathon
When the weather outside is frightful, a night on the couch is delightful. Pick up a few snacks and drinks, and invite your besties over for a holiday movie marathon. Some suggestions include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; the Home Alone series; A Christmas Story; and Make the Yuletide Gay, the adorable coming-out-at-Christmas story by gay filmmaker Rob Williams. You may be able to find these movies—or whichever flicks suit your fancy—on streaming services to which you subscribe, or you can find them on the regular TV schedule and DVR them in advance.
4. Play Secret Santa with Your Friends
If you’re strapped for cash this year, quell the anxiety by suggesting a Secret Santa gift exchange among your friends instead of a free-for-all that can quickly spiral your budget out of control. If you currently only exchange a gift or two with a couple of friends, this might not be for you, but if you have a large group of comrades, it’s an easy-on-the-wallet option.
5. Plan an LGBT White Elephant Party
There are different names for this type of party; aside from White Elephant, it’s also called a Yankee Swap in various regions—but the concept is the same. It’s simple. Each participant brings one wrapped gift to the gathering, the price of which is usually capped at reasonable price, like $20 or so. The group decides in which order participants will select from the pile of gifts, generally by numbers randomly drawn from a hat. Once a gift is opened, it can be stolen by the next in line if they don’t particularly like their gift—or, in most cases, just like a previous gift better. This practice continues until the last person has opened the last gift, which ultimately gives that lucky duck the pick of the litter. Lots of fun and laughter at this inexpensive, home-based holiday event.
6. Baked Holiday Goodies for Your Neighbors and Co-Workers
Get into the spirit of the season by dusting off those cookie sheets, muffin tins and loaf pans. Turn up the holiday tunes and get cookin’ with a few batches of your signature baked goods, package them in holiday-themed containers with nicely tied ribbons or bows, and deliver them with a note of holiday greetings.
7. See a Special Holiday Performance at Your Local Lesbian or Gay Bar
You can bet there’ll be a jolly party or drag show taking place at your favorite queer hangout between now and New Year’s. But if that’s not on the calendar, see what else is happening that’ll help you jingle all the way. Maybe it’s an ugly Christmas sweater party as previously mentioned, but there also may be toy drives; holiday-themed party nights; or game-based events, like trivia or bingo.
Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and those circumstances really take their toll on people around holiday time. That’s why it’s important to give of your time and energy to show you care about your fellow Americans by volunteering. Try to locate an LGBT establishment that needs a helping hand this season, and there are plenty of other options in your community. The important part is that you and your friends are getting out there and giving back.
9. Snap Up Post-Holiday Clearance Deals
If you love to shop, post-Christmas clearance deals on holiday stuff can be the best part of the season. For rock-bottom prices, wait about five days after Christmas when Target has slashed prices from the starting discount of 50 to 75 percent—although it tends to be heavily picked through by that point. Nonetheless, you can grab a bunch of incredible deals. Wait a little longer and the discounts plunge into the 90 percent-off range at some stores, and that’s a no-brainer. The shelves may look apocalyptic, but you’ll pay peanuts for whatever’s left to enhance your future holiday home.