Flexible Holidays Are Much Cheaper (And Less Stressful)
My family doesn't exactly respect the calendar. We've held Thanksgiving on a Friday, moved Mother's Day to the last week of April and moved around just about every other holiday to suit ourselves. This adaptability has saved us an unbelievable amount of money. For Thanksgiving alone, the savings can be in the hundreds of dollars — just because we're not flying on days that the rest of the U.S. is trying to cram itself on a plane.
Suggesting a more flexible schedule is often as simple as telling those relatives that you want to spend time with that you just can't figure out how to manage it on a specific day — so why not the day before, or the day after? If you've got a few frugal relatives, it's easy to argue the savings: if you hold your celebration after everyone else, traditional foods and decorations are often on sale. Big meals out (like a Mother's Day brunch) are cheaper when you aren't paying a holiday premium, either.
There's also a lot to be said for being flexible to cut the stress of the holidays. I spent my childhood shuttling between divorced parents — and endured plenty of bickering about who got what holiday. I often had to rush out of my dad's Thanksgiving get-together to make it to my mom's. Let's just say that a good time was not had by all. Convincing at least one part of my family to hold Thanksgiving on a different day cut my stress, and it might cut yours too.
While everyone else is off celebrating, you may need to fill some hours. Luckily, there are plenty of options:
- Volunteer. Especially for big holidays like Christmas, just about everyone takes off to be with their families. That means a lot of vital services are understaffed — even hospitals can have a skeleton staff for the holidays.
- Accept an invitation. Many years, we get far more invitations than we can accept. But if we're spending a different day with our families, we can accept invitations from friends.
- Work. I may be alone in enjoying working when everyone else is gone — but I can often get enough done to justify taking off at least the day I'm planning to celebrate (if not more).
Now, we don't move every holiday, every year. We're scattered over the country and may only get together for one or two big get-togethers each year. There is something to be said about observing many holidays along with the rest of the world. Getting out of sync for St. Patty's Day or New Year's Eve just gets you some odd looks. We tend to keep religious observances exactly where they're scheduled as well. But being flexible on just when you observe holidays can make them a bit easier to handle.