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I look forward to the glitter, glam and excitement of the holiday season. I especially enjoy all the festive decorations, as I am sure most people do. I believe, however, many people feel pressured at this time of year to spend beyond their means. Between decorating, holiday-inspired events, and gifts the expenses add up fast. Consider some of the ideas I have used to trim those costs. This year contemplate some simpler, inexpensive or free decorations and budget-friendly family traditions.
Turn Inexpensive Yard Sale Finds into Dazzling Decorations
Round up the family to rummage a yard sale or flea market in search of interestingly designed vases, containers and wicker baskets. It does not matter how beat up they appear. Often you can pick these items up for a dollar or two or less. Jazz up these finds using a can of flat or metallic red, gold or silver spray paint.
Spritz the painted container with spray glue and sprinkle with glitter dust. Fill with inexpensive silk poinsettias and holiday filler from Family Dollar or Dollar Tree stores. Add a recycled ribbon or bow. For about $15 (including paint, glue and glitter), you have a holiday centerpiece. If you live in an area with woods, you can gather some pine branches and pine cones to fill your freshly painted baskets. This is a bonus because nature's offerings are free.
Upcycle Newspaper to Wrap Gifts
Before you transport that pile of newspapers to the recycling center, grab a bunch to wrap holiday gifts. I learned this trick from my mom when I was a kid. Of course, there was no color in news print back then. My mom dazzled up the drabness of the black and white newspaper with bright red satin ribbon, some jingle bells, and bows saved from the previous holiday. It is a simple and affordable way to save on wrapping paper. It is surprisingly ornate, too.
Save Money by Using Non-Electric Outdoor Decorations
This money-saving practice is not exactly a big favorite with the kids. Believe me, I understand -- I have four grandchildren to delight during the holiday season. However, think of not doing outdoor lighting in two ways: You are teaching the kids about saving money and cutting down on the waste of electricity. Both are valuable lessons in their own right.
Instead of stringing miles and miles of outdoor lights, consider decorating porches, shrubs, bushes or trees with glittering ribbon-hung ornaments created by the family. Purchase a few boxes of low-priced ornaments. Again, you can get these for a reasonable cost, generally $2, at Family Dollar or Wal-Mart. Using glue, glitter and small embellishments; each family member can come up with some thoughtful creations. They will also serve as family keepsakes. Be sure to include the date.
Create a Magical Holiday Night Tradition at Home
Taking the family to holiday events can be expensive. For instance, I live in Massachusetts and the Boston Ballet production of the "Nutcracker" is a huge holiday event. However, tickets go for $32 to $162 apiece. For a family of four, even the lower priced tickets will cost $128. Add in dinner in Boston, and taxis or train fare, and you will spend approximately $300 for the evening out.
Create your own magical night without leaving home or spending a bundle. You can rent the "Nutcracker" on DVD and watch the movie as a family. Alternatively, you can buy the book. Everyone in the family can take a turn reading a chapter or two. Make the night stand out with some fancy holiday treats from a bakery or a chocolate fondue. With the money you save not buying tickets, you can also splurge on some specialty Dutch processed hot cocoa.
Oh, and if motivated to do so, the family can dress up in their holiday best for the evening or attend the new holiday family tradition in jammies. The magic is in the eye of the beholder.
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