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Holiday Cheer at a Bargain

Dec 15, 2023

Christmas is often a time of high spending, but it doesn’t always have to be! From decorations to meal planning to the gifts themselves, there are numerous ways you can squeeze out more joy on a lower budget. Read on for some ideas!

Decorate With DIY

You don’t need expensive decorations to get your house into a festive mood. By getting creative, you can worry less about your decoration budget. Here are some projects to try:

- Mason Jar Lights: Fill mason jars halfway with salt or fake snow, then set a small tea light on top. Arrange these homemade lanterns around the house, on the dining table or anywhere you like!

- Fake Presents: Save some empty food boxes and use spare wrapping paper and ribbon to make quick and easy table decorations. For added eco-friendliness, use recyclable wrapping paper, and save the ribbons for other gifts in the future.

- Cut-Paper Snowflakes: Remember making snowflakes in grade school? The old trick still works. Fold and cut some spare paper, then hang them in a window for easy winter cheer. Here’s a simple tutorial to get you started.

- Turn to Nature: Pinecones and evergreen clippings are great, natural ways to add some festivity. If you scavenge pinecones, be sure to pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for 30-60 minutes to harden the sap and kill any insects. Once they’ve cooled, decorate with glue and glitter if you wish, then string them up or arrange them on a platter!

Give From the Heart

Sometimes the most cherished gifts don’t cost much. Here are a few gift ideas to spend less this season– but remember to tailor the gift to the receiver! A cheap gift won’t mean much if you didn’t have the unique person in mind.

- Craft a Cookbook: Spend some time collecting recipes that have special meaning – consider reaching out to relatives and close friends for their favorite recipes. Then type them up, place them in clear plastic page protectors and insert into a binder. For added thoughtfulness, decorate the cover yourself!

- Create a Care Package: Care packages don’t have to be pricey to be welcome. You can compile a gift basket for a home spa day, cozy indoor movie night, sporting event or any other unique experience the recipient might enjoy!

- Customize a Coupon: If you know a friend or family member wishes for help or companionship, a customized “coupon” can be a thoughtful way to offer it! Your coupon could offer to cook or take them out for dinner, join them for a hobby they love or walk the dog with them. While you don’t need “coupons” to offer these things, some people struggle to ask for help, or don’t even realize that a chore could be more enjoyable with a friend. Design the coupon yourself, and it’s a cute way to let them know you care.

- Go Vintage: Cruise your local thrift, resale or antique stores and see what pops out at you! If you know a friend or family member likes to collect a “type” of item – such as ornaments, figurines, photographs or art – then a local store is a great place to browse unique items, often at a decent price.

Feast the Frugal Way

If all the yummy food is eating up your holiday budget, consider other ways you can save. Take a look at these tips for cutting back on the cost of groceries.

- Plan Ahead: Take stock of what you already own, then peruse newspapers or the internet for coupons and sales. Make a list and stick to it while out shopping!

- Forget Brand Loyalty: Not everything needs to be name brand. Store-brand staples such as canned goods, crackers, pasta and rice – as well as frozen foods like veggies and pizzas – are often equal quality to the name-brand goods, yet are much cheaper. When it comes to peanut butter, olive oil and certain dairy products, though, name brand might be better. If you have time, don’t be afraid to do some taste testing!

- Prep It Yourself: Buying pre-cut fruit and veggies and shredded cheese can be major time savers, but if you have the time, it’s much cheaper to purchase items whole and do the work yourself.

- Try a Potluck: If you’re hosting a holiday dinner or party, don’t be afraid to suggest a potluck-style meal. Provide the main dish yourself and let your guests bring sides and desserts. Plus, it’s less work for you!