Keeping The Holidays Frugal

Why is it that Christmas has become such a costly, consumer holiday?
That’s not what it is suppose to be about, yet so many people find themselves buying presents for everyone they know and their bank accounts shrinking. Over the last few years our family has strived to keep costs down over the Holidays, and to focus on the things that are truly important. Spending time with family and good friends! With the holidays fast approaching, I thought a quick note on how we keep things frugal was a great blog post for December.

Decorations:
I try and have things up on December 1st, or at least begin putting the decorations around the house. We decorate outside, LED lights and a few ornaments on a tree. Indoors is decorated with a large selection of, old, new, thrift and homemade decorations.
Get thrifty: A few successful visits to the local thrift shops this year, and I found a few fun things. My favorite was the clear glass ornaments I found dirt cheap. Our oldest and I had a blast painting them together in anticipation of hanging them on the Christmas tree.
Make them: We mixed up a batch of dough ornaments. With nothing more than a little salt, flour and water. We created a preschoolers dream craft, measure, mix, bake, paint and hang! They also make great little presents for those special people in your little one’s life.
Clearance: Although we do our best to recycle, we have been known to buy a few special things during the after Christmas sales. I always buy my Christmas cards for next year too.

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Shopping:
I am pleased to say I accomplished shopping early this year! I tackled it with a few things in mind.
Stick to a list: I wrote down who I needed to buy for, and what they were getting.
Budget: Have a maximum amount you are spending on individuals. Then you have a rough idea of what your total cost will be by the time you are done shopping. Use cash when you can for purchases, then you won’t be hit with a credit card bill with interest charges a few weeks after the holidays.
Shop early: Get out there early, hunt for deals and avoid the craziness in shops, malls or where ever you plan on buying.

Events and Entertainment:
The local calendar of events is always jam packed, from mid November to December. Multiple events most weekends and many are free. Cruise your local newspapers or online for great suggestions for kids and adults.
Library: The library is a great resource if you are on the hunt for Christmas music, crafts/gift ideas or books. They often have displays set up so you do not have to look very hard to find what you are searching for.
Download: I’m sure if you are a regular reader of our blog, you have heard us mention our love for downloading and not paying an obscene amount for cable. Adam found a great collection of Christmas movies a couple years ago, from the oldest cartoons to new Christmas comedies. Each year we enjoy watching a view together.

Gifts:
Pick a name: The last few years my family has agreed to draw a name for Christmas. We all feel as if we are very fortunate and do not need anything. The things we need throughout the year we often buy for ourselves. With that in mind we normally draw a name and have a maximum amount of $50 to spend on one gift. It is a great way for everyone to open a little something Christmas morning, but to avoid the large consumer mob that hits the shops in a panic to buy presents for everyone they know. The kids do get a little something from Grandparents and their Aunt and Uncle, although they do not need anything!
Un-used toys: This year I went through the boys toys to find things that have been loved and now forgotten about. Adam and I do not like clutter, and since Ben was born just over 3 years ago it is amazing at the amount of toys that have accumulated. After pulling out toys that we no longer play with, I posted them on local used sites. The money that I made was then used to help fund purchases for the boys this year.
Buy used: Adam and I agreed we would do our best to make used purchases this year. I looked very hard and was pretty darn lucky. The boys will be thrilled with anything Santa brings, even if it has been previously loved by someone else. They will not know any different at this age either.
Make it: A great way to keep costs down is by making gifts. Homemade gifts are always a pleasure to receive. The internet is over flowing with ideas for homemade presents, all you need is a little time and you will amaze yourself with some of things you can crete. One of my favorite ideas:
Recipes in a jar- Guaranteed they won’t go to waste! http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/sealed-delivered-recipes-in-a-jar/index.html

Don’t forget to save those drawings the kids have done! Instead of throwing them in the recycling, use them to wrap up any gifts you do give.

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Food:

Cook from scratch: Not only is cooking from scratch healthier, in most cases it is cheaper too. It does require a bit more time and effort, but it is worth it. We make a point of baking up some of my family’s recipes every year. Cookies that I remember eating when I was little, and world famous buttertarts- yum!
Be realistic about portions: If there are 10 people for Christmas dinner buy for that many, there is no need to buy enough for an army and have it end up in the trash shortly after.
Consider having all the family pitch in on food items, that way the cost won’t fall all on one person and no one feels overwhelmed after an expensive shop at the store.

Hope you found some of these tips a little inspiring. May your Holiday Season be filled with, fun, laughter and love from those that mean the most to you. Merry Christmas from our family, to yours!

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