Holidays 101 - here's how to avoid a budget blowout, stay safe, and enjoy your time off!

By MAS Team | 23 December 2019

The holidays can be a costly affair, especially if you have a big family. We've asked our colleagues if they had any hot tips on buying for larger families to buying presents for family overseas to not spending a small fortune on Christmas Day for food. Here's what they had to say:

"We take stress, hassle and cost out by assigning one person to the Secret Santa to one other person and setting a maximum budget. We use this secret Santa organizer website. That way, each person usually gets one good gift they want and it's easy to organize. We only do it for the adults, though. For the kids, one family can be assigned Secret Santa for all the kids in another family (we have a big family...)." Daniel

"I'm on the My Food Bag wagon this year. Looks awesome, can't wait, great value for money." Phil

"My sister lives in the States, so I order their gifts on amazon to avoid paying for shipping. Next year we are looking at doing our family holiday at Xmas time as a gift to ourselves so we all get a holiday 9which we were going to have anyway) and no stress of having to spend extra on gifts." Nicola

My husband has a lot of nieces and nephews. Instead of buying individual presents, we get each family something to share. One year it was an inflatable swimming pool, another year movie vouchers." Amanda

"We did the My Food Bag last year, too, and will again this year. It saves everyone having to work out what to bring, covers everything including nibbles, and works out to be really cost-effective per head. It's also a nice change from our traditional Christmas dinner and means we don't spend all day in the kitchen." Claire

"For me, Christmas presents are about something that reflects time rather than money, especially since we have a large gathering at Christmas. Each family group receives a gift box of preserves (jams and relishes etc.) that I have made during the year, some baking (be it a 'peel free' Christmas cake, cookies, or their favourite slice), and last year I also gave them all beeswax wraps. I like to give gifts that will be used and enjoyed...and who can say no to a good shortbread or Hawkes Bay strawberry jam for their toast?" Lee

"Last year we did the Christmas My Food Bag which is supposed to feed 8-10. we had 15 and with a small number of extra dishes, it fed the lot of us and only cost all up about $30 per person :-). So we are repeating it this year." Tracey

"I have 5 sisters and we get together every fortnight for a potluck tea with my dad. However, Christmas is a whole other level of eating. We now have a standard Christmas menu and everyone is assigned one meat, one veg, and one dessert dish to bring. If anyone isn't going to be there (like the traitor that is going to New York for Christmas this year) we either miss out on that dish or it's reassigned. This keeps everyone's cost down, and there is always enough food for Boxing Day." Sue

"Make new traditions - what about handmade meatballs with Mexican spice instead of a costly ham? Get everyone in the kitchen to make their own. Make it a craft year and give or receive only something that's handmade. Takes a little planning but it's possible and reminds kids that life isn't just about 'things'. Wrapping paper is cute but newspaper is often free. Call it vintage and save yourself and the environment some unwanted trash. And if you're really stretched for cash but don't want to turn up empty-handed? Chocolate fudge is the answer, very cost-effective to make and packages into a pretty gift." Tania

Now that your budget has been taken care of, here are our most popular summer posts covering everything from how to deal with aggressive drivers to common holiday home insurance claims:

Summer road trips: what you need to know. If you're heading off on a road trip this summer, here are a few things to consider.

Holiday checklist: Plan ahead so you can relax properly. The last thing you want is to come home to a burst water pipe or a burgled home.

Airbnb - what are your insurance obligations as a host? What happens if you list your house on Airbnb and it's somehow damaged by your visiting guests? Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your Airbnb host insurance obligations.

Common holiday home insurance claims and how you can avoid them. With the holiday season fast approaching it makes sense to start thinking about how to best avoid events that could ruin your holiday fun.

8 ways to protect your home while you're away. Many of us will be leaving our homes for holiday spots near and far. But as much as you're looking forward to the holidays, so are the bad guys!

Happy, safe, stress-free holidays. It's always best to plan ahead to avoid the risk of burglary, injury or damage to your property or family. MAS staff have provided some tips for a stress-free holiday.

Survival guide: road trips with kids. Endless pit stops, boredom, tears, 'are we there yet?' - sounds familiar? Road trips can still be fun and here's our survival guide to travelling well with the kids.

Driving and road safety tips for the holiday season. Whether you're driving to your in-laws or heading to the airport to escape them, there's one thing that you can guarantee - the roads will be jam-packed. Here's how to deal with aggressive drivers or keep yourself from becoming one.

Be a sun smart Kiwi this summer. Here's a handy checklist to cover all bases when it comes to sun protection in the harsh New Zealand.

And last but not least: 5 tips for winding down this Christmas. Because ending a busy year with an even busier holiday period can make it hard for everyone to mindfully wind down and take time to relax.

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