Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holidays on the Cheap

The holidays are almost here and with them are expectations of lavish dinners and expensive open houses. Instead of working yourself into a dither and running up the charge card, here are a few suggestions:


1. Renovated Potluck- assign each family or couple a dish to bring.
2. Coffee and sweets only—instead of a full course meal invite folks over for dessert only. That’s all they really wanted, besides socializing.
3. Progressive dinner- you have each course at a different person's house and split the expenses.
4. Cookie Swap- each person brings two dozen cookies and you exchange cookies and recipes. This gives you a wide variety of goodies to eat—without all the baking.
5. Picnic in the living room—spread a tablecloth in front of the fireplace and dine on fried chicken and potato salad. All the fun of a summer meal without the flies. It also makes people think you’re eccentric and fun!
6. Restaurant dining-many restaurants will give large groups a discount if you agree to only one entrĂ©e. That’s all you would have if you cooked.


1. Mothers, and some dads, might enjoy a gift-wrapping party. Throw on some festive music for atmosphere. Make sure to have plenty of tape and scissors.

2. Families with children can make simple crafts such as photo frames, t-shirts, hand print molds. It also saves on gift giving expenses.

3. Christmas baking parties—baking is easier when you’re not on your own. Share the expense of ingredients.

4. Movie night- dig up some holiday favorites and put out the popcorn.

5. Digital Scavenger Hunt-teenagers or adults hunt for items on their scavenger list, but they only need a photo of it. You can delete the photos after the hunt.

6. Board games—everybody has them. Ask your friends to bring theirs too. A few cheap eats and you have a party.


1. Exchange names within the extended family.

2. Have a budget. Let the kids know they can have one specific item in a particular price range.

3. Create gifts by baking, scrap booking, writing down favorite holiday memories, framing photographs. Try to remember this all year around—so you don’t overwork yourself in December.

4. Shop clearance, yard sales, swap meets, library sales all year long. The extra reduced price tags help defer costs, but buying all year around helps stretch the money too.

5. Get creative-a dog lover will enjoy a basket filled with dog treats for her pooch more than an expensive sweater.

6. Give services—a day of chauffeuring for a homebound relative is priceless.

7. Give a gift that reflects your hobby, family, or town—as a gardener I have several extra bulbs that I force for colorful Christmas gifts.

Remember it’s not the cost; it’s the sentiment behind a gift, meal, or a party. This holiday eat, drink, and be merry, but save money too.

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