How To Handle Holiday Invites and Events While on a Budget

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The holidays tend to be a very social season full of gatherings with family and friends. Although you may be looking forward to all of the festivities and merriment, you may be dreading the dent in your wallet that all of these events can leave. Between buying hostess gifts, preparing foods for potlucks, participating in white elephant exchanges, purchasing new holiday attire and traveling to and from parties, the cost to attend these events can really add up. So if you’re on a budget, you may have to politely decline an invite or two.

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Here’s how to tactfully manage holiday invites and events when you’re on a tight budget.

Don’t Feel Like You Have To Attend Every Event

There’s no need to go into debt from attending holiday parties. If you can’t afford to attend an event — or simply don’t want to — then you shouldn’t feel obligated to go.

Make Your Money Work for You

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“Attending a party should be something you look forward to,” said Mona Zegarelli, etiquette expert and director at the National League of Junior Cotillions Greater Grand Oaks Chapter. “Prioritize your calendar to those events you truly feel excited about! Then reflect on any family or work considerations. And last, reflect on how you will honestly feel if you do not attend. It can be difficult when you feel pressed or pressured to attend, but it is OK to just say ‘no.’ And if they are your friend, they will not be offended.”

It’s Always OK To Decline an Invitation (No Matter What the Reason)

“There is nothing wrong with declining any invitation and there’s no need to give any excuse,” said Julia Esteve Boyd, The Etiquette Consultant. “One can politely decline simply by saying something along the lines of ‘I’m so sorry I cannot attend on that date but l really hope to get together with you sometime soon… perhaps after the festive season.'”

Make Your Money Work for You

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If the reason you are declining is due to budgetary constraints, you do not need to share this.

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“There’s no need to give any explanation,” Esteve Boyd said. “Your private life and reasons are private, and there’s no need to share if you feel uncomfortable doing so.”

But You Should Never Ignore an Invite

If you can’t attend a holiday event, you should let the host know.

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“It’s important to acknowledge the invitation, as one should always show this politeness,” Esteve Boyd said. “Do so in a timely manner. Don’t wait until the last minute to respond or decline — it’s quite inconsiderate to the host.”

Don’t Feel Pressured To Bring Expensive Hostess Gifts

If you’re hesitant to accept an invite because you can’t afford to splurge on a hostess gift, remember that it’s OK to bring something inexpensive — this should not be the reason you miss out on a holiday party.

Find Out: Do You Always Have To Pitch In for an Event or Gift at Work?

“A gift for the host/hostess does not have to be expensive by any means,” Esteve Boyd said. “It can be something very small, but the key is to put some thought into it. For example, if you know someone likes plants and flowers, then instead of an expensive bouquet, you can opt for a small inexpensive plant. There are many cheaper options than wines, chocolates, scented candles, etc., such as seasonal cocktail napkins or a homemade relish — and they are usually a lot more original!”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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