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The Challenge of Finding Last Minute Money for the Holidays


Unlike Hope, I haven’t been planning for the holidays since summer. I think I’ve been actively avoiding the entire idea. My mum and grandparents are moving to Nova Scotia to be closer to my sisters, who are each going through Big Life Events. One of my sisters has a baby and is experiencing huge problems outside of her control. I’m so grateful my mum is able to retire early and go be there for her. At the same time, I’m absolutely devastated. It’s an 18 hour drive or a flight to see most of my family now. I was doing dishes the other night and had that punched-in-the-gut realization that my mum won’t be an hour away any longer. What will I do if I need her? What if she needs me?

A really strange Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend. Because my mum is moving, Thanksgiving was a bit of a bust. Mum’s house is for sale and she had showings over Thanksgiving weekend. For the first time in my life, we ate Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant. It was so strange. While we don’t have the football games or the parade, Thanksgiving has always been a big holiday for everyone I know. People travel far and wide to be with their families for this holiday, and we do the huge meal with all the fixin’s. This is the beginning of my favorite time of year.

My mum is so cute!

Finding Last Minute Money for the Holidays

First, let’s chat about Halloween. Halloween is so much fun! I’m going to dress up as a goth, I think. I won’t need to buy a costume for that. I am spending $38 on a ticket to a Halloween music event for next weekend, but I won’t be spending much more than that (maybe $40 for an Uber and a couple drinks – I’ll budget for it). On Halloween night, I’ll hand out candy. I love to see the kids dressed up and my neighborhood has more and more kids moving in! I needn’t worry about finding last minute money for Halloween, thank goodness.

But what to do about Christmas?

With the move in mind, I still don’t know what my Christmas will look like. That’s my absolute favorite time of year, especially here in Canada. I love the serene, perfectly silent blanket of snow, and all of the winter traditions. My family gets together to ski, snowshoe, ice fish, hike. Gosh, I’m teary thinking of this without my half of my family.

With my pets in the picture, I would have to drive out to Nova Scotia, and I just don’t want to do that alone in the winter. So it looks like I’m going to be here, with my dad and brother and his family. That will make it a much cheaper holiday, because my dad and brother are low-key and outdoorsy. I will get to do the fun outside stuff without the expensive inside stuff. My mum’s side is the one that does lavish gifts and over-the-top expensive wines and meats. I still want to find a few Rover gigs before Christmas to cover seeing my dad, bottles of wine or little mementos for friends, and for small gifts for my direct reports at work (like a coffee gift card).

Thinking it over now, I will still send a box of gifts out east. I’m thinking of a handful of homemade gifts, such as pictures and some treats I’ve baked. And I need to get my mother something half decent, but that’s where I’m hoping to use my credit card rewards.

Does anyone have tips for spending the holidays away from family? How about gifts that travel well? 


  • Reply anonymous |

    If you give a lot of bottles of wine as gifts, check out Groupon deals like Wine Insider. I did one awhile ago for 15 bottles and it came out to about $5 a bottle and the ones I tried were pretty good quality. You can also usually find a 20% off Groupon promo code to add on top of the deal.

  • Reply Den |

    We like to send a beautiful holiday arrangement to my in-laws…..pine greens and candles for their holiday table or a big pine wreath for their door. They love it and it makes us feel a part of their holiday celebration. LL Bean has some really nice ones and if you watch, they have online coupon codes you can use.

    My other suggestion for holiday gifts is to start a list NOW of all the people you plan to buy for, along with gift suggestions for each. Then when Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals come out, you can watch for the items as they go on sale.

    If you plan to bake holiday gifts, grocery stores have amazing sales on baking items right before Thanksgiving (here is the USA) and I buy all my Christmas baking supplies then. And the dollar store has cute holiday containers or trays for the baked goods.

So, what do you think ?