Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Celebrations on a Budget

by Aleta Kay

         With the economy in the shape it’s in and so many people out of work, family tensions run high. We still want to give gifts, decorate and bake. But we don’t want to have to argue with our husbands about the finances of these endeavors. How can we keep our traditions, make home look great, do all of the baking we want without causing frustration, anger and world war three in our homes?
          I do not have the gift of decorating but I have a few ideas. First, hit the yard sales. People who are not struggling may be getting rid of a lot of nice but used things, ready for a new look this year. Check them out. You may also find some plain wooden ornaments you can paint yourself or let the kids paint them. It doesn’t matter if they’re beautiful. What matters is that they have fun doing it. Let them use their creative spirit to build yours and build fun memories.
          Pick up some pine cones, buy a bottle of glue at the thrift store, and a bag of confetti or shiny sparkly sprinkles. Put glue on the tips of the cones and sprinkle the shiny stuff on. Let them dry and glue two or three together at the ends for a decorative centerpiece. Or you can glue some of the petals together at the sides to form a circle and put a candle in the center.
          Go to the thrift store or dollar store and buy some pieces of red and green felt. Cut out Christmas tree shapes, candy canes (red and green stripes sewed together and stuffed with cotton balls) and paint them with fabric paints. Hang them on the tree or lay them out in a pretty design on coffee table or dinner table.
Again at the thrift store, pick up a box of cider mix. Pour two or three packets into a small crock pot or potpourri pot and let simmer for about an hour before guests arrive. The aroma will make your home an inviting place to be. Add a cinnamon stick for added aroma pleasure.
For your baking, choose recipes with the least amount of ingredients with the highest yield. If you’re having guest over invite them t bring their favorite goodies so you don’t have to do it all.
Holiday meals on a shoestring? Go to and look at the specials for your local grocery stores. Find out if they accept competitor coupons and/or have buy one/get one free deals. Plan your list around the store specials and buy one get one free deals. Make sure you have at least two of every coupon. Our Publix store allows you to use a coupon for the free item as well as the sale priced item. Both Sweet Bay and Publix accept competitor coupons. Check with your local store to get their rules for couponing. You can save a lot of money. If there isn’t a package size specification get the smallest package you can. You may end up getting money back. Buy in bulk and stock up whenever possible when you find the specials. Sunday circular coupons tend to run in 12 week cycles for types of products featured: over-the-counter medicines, beauty products and personal hygiene one week, household cleaning supplies and laundry another, canned soups and vegetables another, then baby products, etc.
If you can’t afford to do everything you want to, just do what you can. Teach your children that Christmas is not about how much you get; it’s about appreciating what you get. After all, the reason we celebrate Christmas is to rejoice in the fact that God sent His only begotten son to be born as a human so He could identify with our suffering, knowing it would end on a cruel cross for our sins. Jesus is the reason for the season. God bless.

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