Holiday Money Saving Tips

Holiday Money-Saving Tips


Let’s face it, the holidays can be expensive under normal circumstances. According to the National Retail Federation, despite the pandemic’s economic toll, individuals are trending above the five-year average for gift expenses and plan to spend an average of $997.79 this year. Here is a look at how those expenditures are typically divided:


·       Gifts for family, friends, and coworkers: $650

·       Non-gift holiday purchases such as food, greeting cards, and decorations: $230

·       Other non-gift holiday purchases for themselves and their families: $11


(Source: National Retail Federation, 2020)


In this current era of pandemic-related furloughs and lay-offs, many families are struggling to find ways to keep up the spirit of the holidays and provide for their families. Traditional celebrations may not be feasible this year, but you can still keep things merry and bright by employing alternative options. Listed below are some money-saving tips for this holiday season. 


Define what “Gift-Giving” Means to You

Is it finding the perfect gift for someone? Do you want to impress? Or do you just feel obligated to buy? These factors can really shape how you view the season. Instead of focusing on what to buy, focus on why you’re buying those particular presents in the first place and how you are going to pay for them.


Create a Holiday Budget

Start the holiday season by creating an overall budget and deciding on a specific amount to spend on each person. Stick to it and don’t spend outside of your comfort zone. Avoid splurging on something that is not on your list just because it’s a good deal.


Choose Time over Money

For some people, spending time together is better than any gift you can purchase. Whether you can be with someone in person or spend time with them virtually, value the memories of laughter and conversation over materials and goods.


Make it a “Group Project”

If you are looking to purchase a big gift, ask others to go in on it with you. You can still buy bigger, more expensive gifts for parents or siblings by asking other family members to all chip in. If you’re wanting to give a gift of appreciation to your child’s teacher, email other parents in the class to see if anyone wants to donate money or small items for a gift basket from the group. 


Show Your Creativity

Another option is to make presents instead of buying them this year. Create something personal, memorable, and one-of-a-kind that the recipient will treasure. Let the kids make presents for their grandparents and other family members, or if you aren’t a super-crafty family, bake cookies or other simple treats. Keep in mind homemade gifts of any kind offer a sentimental touch that you won’t find in store-bought presents.


Gifts of Service

Offer the gift of cooking dinner for your friends, serving breakfast in bed to your spouse, or a free car wash for your brother. The possibilities here are endless and you can get really creative with what services you are willing and able to provide to others.


Utilize Re-Gifting

Although re-gifting has a bad reputation, some common sense can make it work. Keep in mind the relationship between the person who originally gave you the gift and the person to whom you intend to re-gift the item. For example, don’t give your sister that still-boxed extra crockpot you got from your dad if they are close and it could cause a rift. Instead, maybe give it to a friend who doesn’t have a relationship with your dad at all. Seriously, it is okay to re-gift an item if you know someone else will put it to good use. After all, how many crockpots do you need? It is better to give it to someone who doesn’t have one and has been wanting or needing one. It will save you some money and keeps a gift from going unused and collecting dust. That makes for a win-win situation all around.


Be a Bargain Shopper

If you are purchasing a gift in-store, always ask the sales associates if there are additional discounts or specials. Before purchasing anything in-store or online, do your research and look for coupons, promo codes, texts, emails, and other deals before you buy. Most stores will price match and/or offer discounts for active-duty military, senior citizens, and college students. 


For online shoppers here are some additional tips:


  • Abandon your online cart temporarily. Sometimes you’ll get a discount code or a free shipping offer to entice you to make that purchase
  • Set a Google Alert to get notified when your item goes on sale
  • Use Pricegrabber to compare prices across different websites
  • Join store loyalty programs before you make an online purchase
  • Check RetailMeNot for cashback offers and instant coupon codes
  • If you can, use the curbside pick-up option to pick up your merchandise at the store rather than pay for shipping 
  • Set up extra email addresses to collect extra coupons
  • Download apps like the KCL app that tell you about the best online coupons and sales


Finally, learn to say no to random gift exchanges. Be kind, but decline the offer to participate. Although fun to do, gift exchanges can easily cost more than expected and blow your carefully curated budget.


However you choose to spend your money, remember the spirit of the season is more important and it really is the thought that counts.  


Happy Holidays!



The New Thanksgiving

The New Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the most celebrated holiday in the United States, and many consider it to be the most important dinner of the year. Although past years may have been filled with family, friends, and a full-blown feast of food, this year’s Thanksgiving will most likely be more of a low-key event because of the pandemic.  However you choose to celebrate Turkey Day this year, here are some prudent ways you can bring a little bit of Thanksgiving magic to your day:

Outdoor Fun

Instead of having a large indoor gathering, turn your backyard into a Fall Festival. This is a great idea if you are hosting a large gathering or have limited space inside your house. Be sure your guest list is appropriately limited to the size of your yard. Map out table and chair placements in advance, including a spacious area for the serving table. It is also a good idea to set ground rules and share them with guests before Thanksgiving so everyone knows what is to be expected. Everyone should come prepared to spend their time outside, which may mean bringing a few extra layers and a blanket. If you choose to create a warmer space with heaters and/or a tent, make sure that the heaters are spaced apart to allow for proper distancing, and ensure at least two tent sides remain open at all times for adequate airflow. If you have concerns about evening temperatures dropping too low for comfort, consider eating around lunchtime instead of dinner. Make the best of it by gathering in mid-afternoon, which is usually the warmest part of the day.

Virtual Dinner

Socializing doesn't have to mean sitting right next to each other. Consider hosting a virtual dinner with friends and family. With a little organization and creativity, you can still see and spend time with your loved ones on this special day. For those who traditionally do a Thanksgiving potluck, the meal is usually filled with yummy dishes made by others that you might think you will miss out on if you go virtual, so get together online or over the phone with others in advance and have a “recipe exchange”. This way, you can learn to make something new, and you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite dishes while virtually hobnobbing. Sustaining a multi-person conversation online can be tricky, as there is more opportunity for people to talk over each other. Overcome this challenge by designating a group moderator to keep the conversation flowing smoothly and when those inevitable moments of silence do occur, have some conversation starters chosen ahead of time to keep the party going.

Here are some Apps to help you decide what might work best for you.



·       Free

·       Allows about 30 people on chat

·       High quality and fun filters


·       Only available to Apple users


Google Meet/Google Hangouts


·       Free

·       Allows up to 25 people

·       Guests only need a Google account to join

·       Allows guests to join by phone if video is not an option


·       The video feature can lag or freeze

·       Works best in Chrome browser




·       Free

·       Allows up to 25 people to Skype


·       Users have to download the Skype app and create an account to access, or use “Meet Now” with app installation if they don’t have an account




·       Easy to use

·       Good video quality and chat feature

·       Allows users to join by phone if video is not an option

·       Allows up to 100 guests and has features like “breakout rooms” that can be used with smaller groups for games or side conversations

·       For Thanksgiving Day, Zoom will lift its 40-minute time limit for free meetings



·       Limited viewing arrangements

·       Some voice lags 

 No matter how, when, why, or where we spend Thanksgiving, the main reason we celebrate the holiday is to give gratitude and thanks not only to our friends and families, but also for the many blessings that abound in our lives. Whether you meet in person or virtually, take the time to express your love and grateful appreciation for one another.




Holiday Traveling Tips


Friends, family, and food… Decorations, presents, and traditions… The onset of the holiday season usually inspires a tingle of anticipation that grows into a full-fledged feeling of hope filled with promise, but the approaching holiday season of 2020 includes an inkling of nervous apprehension for many due to the global pandemic. Spending time with loved ones this year can be – and should be – done in a safe and healthy way without compromising the joy of the season itself. For those who are traveling during the upcoming holidays, here are some tips to keep you as safe as possible:


If you are traveling alone, stay vigilant about keeping your distance. Continue to wear masks while with others, whether that’s on the road or at a family gathering. If you are traveling with children, the CDC recommends masks for children 2 years of age and older. Be sure to pack extra sanitizing wipes with at least 70% alcohol to wipe down what your kids get into. Don’t forget to also regularly sanitize any personal objects such as toys, bottles, and electronics. If your kids are older, have a conversation with them about the new rules and extra precautions so they know what to expect and are less likely to feel overwhelmed. Consider mailing gifts in advance to minimize what you carry so you can be more focused on your surroundings. 


For those traveling by car this holiday season, stock your vehicle with face masks, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. To limit your exposure and contact with others, only make necessary stops. The fewer stops the better, so load up on food, drinks, and whatever else you may need to keep going. Research the local and state guidelines of your route and destination before heading off so you know what is expected and what your limitations are. 


If you are planning to travel by plane, keep in mind that face coverings are mandatory on every major U.S. airline. A great tip is to carry hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you at all times, and be sure you can get to them quickly and easily. The TSA now allows one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags. Taking a carry-on when possible instead of checking a bag is highly recommended as you will have better control of who touches and handles the bag, you can avoid crowded luggage carousels, and it will limit your time at the airport. Be sure to read up on current TSA rules and procedures before heading to the airport as they could unexpectedly change. Remember to practice social distancing whenever possible, and most of all, be patient.  


For those who are staying with family or at a friend's house, be sure to find out beforehand whether anyone in the household is at a high risk for contracting a severe case of Covid-19, especially if you plan on exploring the area during your visit. If so, consider staying at a hotel instead. Rest assured that hotels are constantly adapting to the pandemic and continue to go to great lengths to ensure the safety and well-being of their guests. In addition to finding a hotel close to family or friends, look into whether or not the hotel has a phone app you can download to help speed up your check-in process and potentially provide digital keys for hotel and room access. For peace of mind, bring sanitizing wipes to ensure cleanliness of main touchpoints such as knobs, information booklets, faucets, and countertops. Keeping your personal toiletries inside a toiletry bag instead of leaving them out on the counter will eliminate housekeeping from touching and moving your personal items when they come in to clean. If you are staying at a rental house, ask the host what sanitation processes and protocols they have in place. If you are uneasy, bring your own cleaning products, such as spray and wipes, to sanitize the area before you settle in. Don’t hesitate to bring your own pillows, towels, and sheets if it makes you feel more comfortable. 


Holiday travel can be stressful, but remember that everyone is trying to get where they need to be as safely as possible. With a little awareness, a lot of patience, and the willingness to take extra precautions for safety, happy holiday travels are possible!


Ready to plan your next destination? Galactic can get you there!




Giving Thanks To Your Employees

Everyone appreciates being appreciated. Positive words and acts of encouragement can provide inspiration to continue behaviors that result in affirmative recognition. Employees who know their professional efforts have meaning and are noticed tend to thrive at work with increased productivity and have a propensity to continually exceed expectations. Letting your employees know that what they do matters will help keep them engaged and excited to come to work each day.  Here are some fun and creative ways to give thanks to your employees:

Wall of Fame

One great way to say “Thank You!” to your employees is by acknowledging their work with a recognition display of some kind. Creating a Wall of Fame featuring employees’ work and/or pictures allows the entire team to be aware of the efforts put in by others. Be sure the display clearly indicates what was accomplished and by whom for peers to see what they could be doing to receive recognition as well.

Point Rewards Program

Allow the best-of-the-best on your team to have control over what kinds of recognition rewards they want. Implementing a point rewards program allows employees to earn and collect rewards points that can be redeemed for items of their choice.  A point rewards program is often preferred by employees over cash bonuses because cash is viewed as an extension of income and used for necessary items like bills, fuel, groceries, etc. and is soon forgotten, but rewarding employees with items they can purchase themselves via a rewards program can fulfill personal wants that an employee would usually not otherwise justify purchasing.

In addition, an individual travel program can be beneficial for employers and employees.  Employers can provide a trip of a lifetime for individuals who exceed expectations.  Employees will return from the trip even more energized and motivated.

Free Food

Who doesn’t like a free meal? Since many people are still working from home, they will often have lunch or dinner conveniently delivered to their house. Gift cards sent to these employees for a free meal or two could result in workers feeling encouraged to continue performing and excelling without direct supervision. For employees who are working at the office, consider hosting a cookout or have a meal catered in where management serves food to the employees as a way to show their appreciation.

Office Comforts

An alternate way to say thank you to your employees is to upgrade their office workspace with some amenities. These upgrades can be physical items like a more comfortable chair, a new lamp for better lighting, or some cool new office gadgets. You can also say thank you in intangible ways like reducing the dress code from business attire to casual. Allow employees to show their diversity and creativity by letting them dress up in fun ways for various holidays, and if possible, you could even go so far as to allow your employees to wear shorts and flip-flops on select “super-casual” days during the warmer summer months.

Celebrate Birthdays

What better way to say thank you to your employees than by acknowledging and celebrating their birthdays? A simple gesture such as a card signed by colleagues can go a long way. As an added treat, give your employees an extra full paid day off for their birthday, or let them leave early for the day without penalty.

Boss For A Day

Give your employees the chance to earn one whole day to park in the best parking space and sit in the boss’s office. Allow the employee who earns this reward the opportunity to go through the pressure and stress you would encounter daily while you take on their role. This provides both the manager and the employee with a new perspective on how each job affects the other. The employee will get a better idea of what management is expecting of them and in return, managers will also get a better understanding of what their employees need from them.

Thank You Video

Create and send short personalized videos to express your appreciation. These thank you videos don’t have to be fancy or high-quality HD as long as they are sincere and customized. You can pull off a meaningful thank you video almost anywhere, anytime.

Appreciation Jar

Have colleagues and managers write brief notes stating why a particular employee is amazing and collect the notes in a jar. Get creative and decorate the jar with that person’s favorite color, a picture, or sparkly sequins, and include gift cards, lottery tickets, trinkets, and/or candies for some additional fun. Make a show of presenting the jar publicly as an award, or leave it on the person’s desk for them to find – as long as the recipient knows they and their efforts have been acknowledged.

No matter how you choose to show your employees your appreciation for their hard work, your thoughtfulness will yield beneficial outcomes. Employees who feel genuinely appreciated will reward you in return with their loyalty and more. Every employee needs to know they are appreciated by their superiors and the more effectively you can do that, the better results you will achieve from the people on your team.

Ready to give thanks to your employees? Galactic can help.





Many companies follow long-standing traditions of holiday celebrations that are simply not feasible in today’s climate of health & safety regulations and distancing guidelines. Humans are communal creatures and during the holiday season tend to crave more socialization versus the rest of the year, however, due to current COVID protocols, public gatherings are mostly discouraged. For those who are the “party planners” of the company, rest assured your goals are attainable and you can still have that holiday celebration through careful planning and clear communication. Here are some things to consider while planning your corporate holiday parties:


Follow Mandates and Protocols

Professional event planners working closely with venue management teams can help ensure the most current rules and regulations are being maintained and followed to safeguard the health, safety, and well-being of all attendees and participants. If budgeting allows, consider hiring a Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) to handle all the arrangements so you can enjoy the party along with your guests. A CMP will be sure all safety protocols are not only executed but also communicated effectively to your guests before they arrive, as well as be responsible for planning and coordinating every aspect of the event from the content to the logistics, from renting the space to inviting the attendees, and from implementing safety measures to ensuring the guests are having a good time.


Open-Air Options

Outdoor events are strongly encouraged at this time whenever possible. If the weather is chilly, make good use of heaters and fire pits where allowed to help guests keep warm. This is also a great opportunity to get creative and add sponsorships to your corporate event with branded blankets and logoed or engraved coffee cups which the guests can take home with them as party favors. If an outdoor venue is simply not an option, make sure your indoor space is large enough to offer social distancing, is well-ventilated, and windows can be opened if needed.


Spread Out Indoors

Before booking an indoor space, thoroughly research the venue to ensure guests can social distance effectively. Post signs or markers to help guests maintain the appropriate spacing. Consider making your party a “Holiday Masquerade” or other masked theme party to encourage facemask coverings, or even create a facemask contest to see who comes up with the best holiday-themed facemask. Most importantly, be sure the “room space to guest ratio” is compliant with social distancing guidelines for any indoor event.


Bonus Tip: Regardless of whether the space is indoors or outdoors, selecting a venue that already includes some holiday décor will add those extra “decorations dollars” back into your budget to spend on your guests.


Food and Beverage

Following the same guidelines as standard food establishments will help maintain safe practices when it comes to handling food and drinks for your guests. Offer individual meal boards instead of buffets along with individually wrapped silverware and napkins. If possible, have additional service staff handle the distribution of food, beverages, and utensils to minimize potential cross-contamination. Finally, hand-sanitizing stations and/or individual wipes are also encouraged for added protection.


The pandemic may have changed the way people celebrate major events and will affect how we celebrate the upcoming holidays, but we are continuously adapting to a new normal. With careful attention to detail and dedication to safe practices, we can securely indulge our human need for socialization and celebrate this holiday season safely with special guests, friends, family, and loved ones.


Ready to plan your next event? Let Galactic help.



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