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Family celebrating holiday at home

K-State family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss suggests planning now for holiday spending.

K-State expert urges families to make spending plan for the holidays

Focus on what’s important when building a budget, Kiss says

Oct. 5, 2020

MANHATTAN, Kan. – This year, perhaps more than many previous years, may require a holiday spending plan.

Among its many effects, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hit on many family’s budgets. Because of that, Kansas State University family resource management specialist Elizabeth Kiss said planning for holiday celebrations should begin as soon as possible.

“It’s okay to set limits,” Kiss said. “There are many families that have experienced income loss this year and they may be wondering how they are going to celebrate the holidays. They may have to take a hard look at what really is important and what they might be able to let go. That’s fine.

“It’s an opportunity to really focus on what is important to them and their families. This year, the holidays may not be exactly like they have been in the past, but families can still get the essence of what’s important to them without spending as much money.”

Listen to an interview by Jeff Wichman with Elizabeth Kiss on the weekly radio program, Sound Living

Whether it be Halloween, Thanksgiving, the December holiday of choice or even New Year’s Eve, Kiss said enjoying celebrations means “getting real.”

“Determine what you would like it to look like and then decide how you want to spend the money that you have to celebrate,” she said.

Kiss and her colleagues in K-State’s College of Health and Human Sciences routinely update information online to help families plan their finances year-round.

But making a spending plan for the last quarter of 2020 is especially important because of the impact that the first part of this year has had on nearly everyone.

“Our own expectations play a big part in that,” Kiss said. “I think it’s important to get a handle on our expectations and figure out what makes sense for this year and then be happy with it. We all have had some feelings of loss in a lot of spheres this year and that may continue during this holiday season.

“But, I try to be an optimist, what is it that we might gain from many of these changes or adjustments.”

It may even lead to some new traditions. For example, for Halloween, Kiss said one way to save money might be to contact neighbors and share costumes previously worn by children who have outgrown them.

“I also think about holidays like Thanksgiving, which is a food-heavy holiday,” Kiss said. “We should plan now to take advantage of sales, but even before that, try to eat out of your cupboards in late October and early November to clear out space and help you cut grocery spending in those weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.”

For Christmas and other gift-giving holidays, she suggests using up holiday cards left from past years, or asking kids to make their own wrapping paper – “it’s a great art project for kids,” Kiss said.

Whether shopping locally or online, Kiss said one way to save money is to start scouting prices for gifts you plan to buy.

“The earlier you start, the more you are aware of prices,” she said. “Also, you don’t feel pressured to make purchases at the last minute. The longer you wait and the less time you have between when you order and when you need the gift, the more you’re likely to pay for shipping.”

More information on managing family finances is available online. Several publications also are available for free from the K-State Research and Extension bookstore.

At a glance

Planning how you will spend money for holidays can help you prioritize what is important to you and your family.


K-State Research and Extension, Family Finances

Notable quote

“This year, the holidays may not be exactly like they have been in the past, but (families) can still get the essence of what’s important to them without spending as much money.”

-- Elizabeth Kiss, family resource management specialist, K-State Research and Extension


Elizabeth Kiss

Written by

Pat Melgares


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.