Every year, the Burton family of Valrico puts on a magnificent light show.

Prices have skyrocketed for everyday items, so finding affordable gifts and food for the holidays can feel like an impossible task. However, there are plenty of easy ways to save money this holiday season.

First, set a spending goal for the season. Whether budgeting for gifts or hosting a dinner, planning a set amount to spend can help with meeting financial holiday goals.

Turn that holiday meal into a potluck. Every family member or friend can bring a main dish and side. This way, the full cost of the meal isn’t the sole responsibility of the host.

Limit gifts to four or less for immediate family. Budgeting for Christmas with children is difficult, but following the ‘four-gift rule’ can help. The ‘four-gift rule’ is buying something wanted, something needed, something to wear and something to read.

Implementing Secret Santa with extended family can help ease the burden on that pocketbook. With the Secret Santa approach to gift-giving, instead of buying gifts for 20 people, every person chooses a special gift for one person within a specified price limit.

Handmade gifts from the heart can be worth more than store-bought gifts. An added benefit to handmade gifts is that they can be cost-effective. Some ideas are baking a favorite sweet, making personalized ornaments or crocheting a baby hat.

Next, buy useful stocking stuffers. Rather than purchasing expensive items as stocking stuffers, buy necessities instead. Some examples of necessary stocking stuffers are socks, toothbrushes, deodorant or crayons for the kids.

Look for sales on gifts and food. Many stores offer holiday sales and incentives to entice people through the doors. Also, grocery rebate applications (Ibotta or Fetch) can help with the cost of food since the user gets cash back to favorite stores.

Finally, check out local holiday events that are free to the community rather than taking an expensive trip out of town. One event is the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, which features light shows, ice skating, pretend snow and Christmas festivities. Visit the Winter Village website for more information at https://wintervillagetampa.com.

For a light show in the Valrico area, the Burton family puts on quite a display and are even contenders in the 2023 Great Christmas Light Fight. Find out more details about this show at www.facebook.com/burtonfamilylightshow.

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Ashley Abene
Ashley Abene has written for the Osprey Observer since 2023. She has a master’s degree in writing and literature and a bachelor’s degree in professional writing from the University of South Florida. She has taught college-level writing and literature at USF and Southeastern University for over nine years. She’s a blogger at Peace Filled Family and enjoys writing children’s books. She’s also a mom to three kids, and her husband has been serving in the military for over 20 years.