Have a merry, thrifty holiday

Santa hands Trabeon Wilcher, 7, a toy after hearing what Wilcher wanted for Christmas. Children of all ages were able to sit on Santa's lap during Malmstrom holiday festivities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Beau Wade)

Santa hands Trabeon Wilcher, 7, a toy after hearing what Wilcher wanted for Christmas. Children of all ages were able to sit on Santa's lap during Malmstrom holiday festivities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Beau Wade)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Christmas music and pumpkin candles, candy and pet treats are at the top of every checkout aisle weeks before Americans even celebrate Thanksgiving, and there is definitely no escaping computer, radio and television suggestions for what gifts to buy for friends and family during the holiday season.

"Spending a lot of money on gifts can be stressful and detract from the meaning of the holiday spirit, which is spending time together and strengthening our relationships," said Tracie Faulk, 341st Force Support Squadron Airman Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant on Malmstrom.

To keep your holidays merry, guilt-free and the focus on family, Faulk has five tips.

Develop a budget
"Decide how much money you have and how much of it you are willing to spend this holiday season," Faulk said. "Take into consideration gifts, food, entertainment, decorations, holiday cards, postage, special event outfits and travel expenses."

"Looking at the numbers will help you make a smart shopping list. Make sure you stick to your list, too," she said.

Do something different
"Discuss with family and friends the idea of drawing names for a gift exchange instead of each person buying something for each person," she said. "When you have large extended families or a big circle of friends, those gifts can start piling up and be expensive and stressful to your budget."

"Consider even only buying gifts for the children in your families. Be sure to set a reasonable price limit so everyone will get a gift of equal value," she said. "Or perhaps agree on spending the money on a special activity or travel together."

Keep a record
"Make sure you track your expenses by keeping a notebook and record things as you buy them," Faulk said. "It would also be helpful to have a copy of your spending budget for referral."

"This will help you stay on task as you make your purchases. If you see yourself coming close to going over budget, there will still be time to fix it," she said.

Avoid impulse buying
"First, make a list of everyone you intend to a buy a gift for. Write down a few gift ideas after each name on your list and then do your research," Faulk said.

"Go online and check different stores to find the best price for the items you want. And if you do hit the stores, you will have a rock solid plan and save money," she said.

Be creative
"Gifts are a big part of Christmas, but can be the most expensive and stressful part," she said. "Some people are trending towards making gifts or making a donation in someone’s name," Faulk said. Or, this year, instead of buying expensive items, perhaps opt for something that makes a memory, helps that person or recreates a moment. Make a scrapbook, give a coupon with an offer to do a chore, make a family photo session or create a special meal with a theme," she said.

These are all wonderful gifts and some unique ways to save for the holidays. Plus, these kinds of gifts are usually fun to brainstorm, she added.

The Airman and Family Readiness Center wishes you a joyful holiday season -- without the stress! Airman Family and Readiness Center personnel take care of Airmen and their families and can be reached at 731-4900.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.