For many families, the holidays are all about tradition. Traditions can include annual trips to Grandma’s house, when and where a family shares its holiday gifts, or something as simple as the holiday meal.

With the nation’s economy in flux, however, some family traditions could be facing extinction. For example, thanks to higher transportation costs, fewer families are likely to hit the road this holiday season, which could make it harder to keep longstanding travel traditions alive. But even families who are tightening the purse strings can keep the spirit of these traditions alive. It just takes some improvisation and a little planning.

Make your own meal: For many families, breaking bread at a favorite restaurant is a holiday tradition. However, as most adults know, the cost of nearly everything has been on the rise this year, making it more expensive to dine out, especially on a holiday when meals typically cost extra regardless of the state of the economy.

However, there is a way to keep your culinary tradition alive, and save some money in the process. Rather than dining out this holiday season, dine in and recreate the meal you typically enjoy while dining out. If your family feasts on turkey at your favorite restaurant, you can save money by cooking a turkey yourself. For those who aren’t the cream of the culinary crop, there are a host of cookbooks or online recipes that offer easy and step-by-step directions to cooking a host of holiday meal favorites. Once you’ve cooked your own family meal, you might be surprised at how easy it was and how much money you’ve saved.

Change your schedule: Lots of families find the chance to gather with extended family and friends the true joy of the holiday season. However, with fuel costs still high, driving or flying to see relatives might fall by the wayside as families look to save some money.

One way to counter the costs of holiday traveling is to travel on days that aren’t traditional travel days. This can prove especially prudent when flying, as airlines often charge far less if travelers are more flexible and willing to fly on off-peak dates. While you might not be able to spend the holiday itself with family and friends, you should still be able to spend some time around the holidays with family and friends, and save lots of money in the process.

Another way changing your schedule can save you money is if you get together with family and friends and choose to meet in a neutral setting that’s more amenable to everyone. For example, rather than one family traveling 200 miles to visit relatives, ease the burden on both ends by agreeing to meet at a halfway point. There, you can sit down and enjoy a good meal, spend the day together, and share the financial burden of traveling, rather than placing that burden all on one family.

Be flexible: Because kids often get at least a week off from school during the holiday season, many families choose to take mini vacations during this time of year. But the state of the economy might make that tradition harder to keep this holiday season.

In such instances, it helps to be as flexible as possible. For instance, if a tradition involves a week or weekend at your favorite ski resort, you don’t necessarily need to squash that tradition entirely. Rather, consider scaling it down. Choose a closer resort if possible, and rather than spending the night, make it a day trip. If you’re used to spending an entire week, save money by scaling it back to just a couple of days, and choose the days in the middle of the week, when resorts typically lower rates in an effort to attract more customers.

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