I love the beginning of fall聽as much as the next girl (give me crazy leaf colors, scary movies and chili recipes and I鈥檓 a happy camper), but the second November 1 rolls around, I snap out of my autumnal haze. It鈥檚 like an alarm goes off that starts screeching 鈥渢he holidays are coming and it鈥檚 time to start planning!鈥

The calendar fills up quickly, stresses loom and, more than anything, I start worrying about my holiday budget. How many people am I giving presents to this year? When are friends coming in from out of town and what will I plan for a night out? Do I get a tree or just skip it again this year? Do I have enough time to make treats for the office and聽DIY my own gift wrap? If you鈥檙e anything like me, it鈥檚 overwhelming, to put it lightly. But this year, it鈥檚 time for a change 鈥 the only headache I want this holiday season comes from聽boozy eggnog. It鈥檚 time to roll up your cozy turtleneck sleeves with me and bust out the calculator app on your phone: Let鈥檚 plan a budget.


As much as the thought of picking apart your paychecks from now 鈥檛il the new year seems as frustrating as trying to figure out what your picky partner wants for Xmas, planning ahead聽does聽pay off. As a millennial who currently lives from paycheck to paycheck, I know from experience that you scoop some serious savings by knowing what exactly you want to spend your money on 鈥 and when 鈥 but the likelihood of you overspending (or, let鈥檚 be honest, splurging) on something super shiny this holiday will be a lot less 鈥 you have numbers to answer to now. New Year鈥檚 resolution come early? Could be. Here are 14 tips for how every millennial could budget their spending this holiday season.

How to Budget for: Friendsgiving


Friendsgiving is a growing tradition for millennials 鈥 I mean, what better聽alternative to awkward family interactions than聽the fun that is friends + food? Friendsgiving should be stress free, as long as there are good drinks and delicious homemade treats to enjoy.

Save Reinterpreting the Pie:聽As tempting as it may be to buy a pumpkin pie and get it over with, resist! Try new takes on classic faves, like bringing a batch of聽pumpkin cheesecake brownies聽or other treats that use classic falls flavors聽in super unique ways.聽They鈥檙e sure to impress your squad, and who knows? You might even end up starting a new Friendsgiving tradition.

Splurge on Bringing *Two* Bottles of Booze:聽Pick up anice bottle of wine or beer for the dinner and be sure to also grab a 鈥渢hank you for having us鈥 bottle for the host. For the table, try聽something unexpected like a port for after dinner or a coffee stout instead of the overplayed pumpkin beer. For the host, gift whatever they like聽most or something special that they鈥檙e missing from their home bar.

How to Budget for: Traveling Home for the Holidays


Heading back to the home base 鈥 no matter the distance 鈥 can break the bank if you don鈥檛 plan like a champ. Pack your bags and get ready to attack your mom鈥檚 fridge.

Save on the Mode Home + Mom鈥檚 Cooking:聽If you need to fly home, make a game plan early on to聽figure out聽the cheapest time to buy airfare聽or DL a handy app like Hoppr to let you know when fares are low while you鈥檙e on the go. If you鈥檙e traveling somewhere drivable, consider Megabus or, even better, road trip with friends and combine forces to pay for gas and food along the way.聽Once you鈥檙e home, minimize spending even more聽by raiding your parents鈥 pantry. Better yet, team up with your mom and make a one pot meal to snack on for the week.

Splurge on a Home Away from Home:聽The holidays typically mean a whole lot of family 鈥 not just your mom + pop, but appearances by your long lost relatives who haven鈥檛 seen you since you were this big are always in the cards. Treat yourself on your holiday *ahem* vacation and splurge on a聽cute Airbnb聽for a night or two for some much-deserved alone time.

How to Budget for: Sending Holiday Cards


We love filling聽fill up our fridge doors with holiday cards, but the process of getting your own done can be daunting. Your card will be on display聽for potentially an entire聽a calendar year, so you want to do it right. Make it pretty and super personal without taking a huge chunk of your budget.

Save聽on Photography:聽Sure, a professional photographer all but guarantees that your card will strike holiday gold, but why hire one for such a super seasonal event (reposting opps = slim, you guys)? Instead of dropping a ton of dough for one photo shoot,聽pick up some camera tools聽and聽photo apps to pimp out your iPhone. They鈥檒l make you鈥檙e snaps look near pro for the holidays and beyond.

Splurge on Things That Will Make Your Handwriting Look Boss:聽You bought nice cards 鈥 or maybe even DIYed them yourself 鈥 so don鈥檛 let your handwriting drag 鈥檈m down.聽Invest in cool and colorful pens聽to make your scribbles pop,聽or even take a calligraphy class聽to get that handwriting up to snuff, because honestly, when was the last time you actually聽wrote聽out more than a few sentences?

How to Budget for: Decorating Your Apartment


This is the time of year where the whole neighborhood glows. Do you tend to have the one dark spot on the block because decorations are too pricey?聽Don鈥檛 let money or time restraints keep you from decking your own halls.

Save on Ornaments + Decor: Trimming your tree can be done on the cheap. Make聽DIY聽ornaments聽on cozy nights in 鈥 or make it an event and throw a party with your pals! Family heirlooms make another great (read: free!) decor option that鈥檒l add a little nostalgia to your tannenbaum, too.

Splurge on *Real* Greenery: There鈥檚 nothing more authentically Christmas than bringing home your own tree, which if you ask us is worth the price for the smell alone. Try wreaths or trimmings if you live in a small space. Sick of the traditional? Get creative and pick up a live plant that will last year-round, like succulents that you can trim up Charlie Brown-style.

How to Budget for: Gifts for Co-Workers


Office grab bags on a tiny budget are hardly any fun. The alternative 鈥 something special for all your officemates 鈥 would be awesome if it weren鈥檛 so expensive. Your end-of-the-year bonus can come and go in a flash if you aren鈥檛 careful 鈥 here鈥檚 how to keep most of that hard earned cash.

Save With a聽Cookie Exchange for the Entire Team: Coordinating a cookie swap is not only easy on your wallet, but it鈥檚 a creative way to let *everyone* on your team feel like they鈥檙e included in the holiday cheer. Set some parameters like budget and the big day of the reveal, then let the bake-off begin.

Splurge on Something Personal for Your Direct Manager:聽Earn brownie points by going personal聽with your gift for your boss, like a gift certificate to their favorite local boutique or money toward a meal at fancy restaurant they鈥檝e been dying to go to for months. See? You really are an ace when it comes to attention to detail.

How to Budget for Entertaining Out-of-Towners


Get your guests rooms (aka air mattresses) ready. There鈥檚 always one or two friends or family members that need a place to crash during the holidays, so use it as an excuse to have a quasi staycation, in and out of the apartment.

Save on Having an Indoor Morning:聽If you鈥檙e trying to do a brunch outing, expect a struggle (long line are one thing, but coordinating grumbling stomachs from different time zones is another). Instead, pick up聽goods ahead of time for everything you鈥檇 need for a fun AM in. DIY your own hot chocolate bar, have a brunch cookoff, line up your Netflix queue and have plenty of odds and end to pass the time, like board games, books and crafts.

Splurge on Your Perfect Night Out:聽Skip the touristy stuff and big-name, overcrowded restaurants. If you go all out showing your side of your city, whether that鈥檚 a聽tour of the city鈥檚 best brew pubs, showing off your secret outdoor hiking spot or hopping to a gallery full of local art your guests will have never seen before, their trip on your turf will feel way more special.

How to Budget for: Going Out on NYE


From the dress to the drink packages, the costs of New Year鈥檚 Eve partying can add up even before the confetti even hits the floor.聽Don鈥檛 wake up to an empty wallet come January 1; have fun, look cute and spend money on staying safe.

Save on Sparkly Clothes: Hit up budget-friendly haunts like Forever 21 or H&M for your head-to-toe look for ultra trendy pieces, like sequined skirts or fuzzy coats, that make a glitzy NYE look. If you want to save even more on glitter and shimmer,聽grab some bits and bobs to accessorize a go-to LBD for next to nothing!

Splurge on Transpo Home: Even though surge prices will be sky high (gulp), cabs and ride share apps will be worth the money spent. If you ask us, it鈥檚 way better to pay聽a little extra than experience the wrath of public transit on a major drinking holiday.

How do you plan on staying on budget this holiday season? Tell us about how you balance the save and splurge in the comments below!