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Frugal Tips for the Holiday Season

Frugal Parenting (featured column)
Submitted by Rachel Keller

Does the holiday season drain your financial resources? Try some of these simple instructions to lessen your financial frustrations.

Gift Buying and Giving

Nothing is more stressful than trying to buy and wrap all your Christmas gifts only days before Christmas. Don't wait until the last minute. By shopping year round, you can take advantage of sales and closeout items. Designate a special box or shelf in a closet to store the gifts so you know where to find them when needed.

The best time to get Christmas gifts and other holiday items is after Christmas. To move inventory, retailers greatly reduce cost. Most items are 50 percent or more. (One year, I saved a bundle on next year’s gifts and decorations by purchasing at a 90 percent discount.) You can either buy for a specific person, or purchase a few extra items for those unexpected gift needs.

If you keep a gift box, make a note of what items you've bought and tape it to the box, so you can see at a glance what you have. This is especially helpful when you store the box high on a shelf.

If wrapping presents is not your idea of fun, try a scavenger hunt. Hide notes throughout the house. Of course, you can wrap the presents and then hide them for even more fun.

Christmas Cards

Buy Christmas cards after Christmas. Save leftover cards from previous years, and you may not even have to buy new cards. Consider sending out Christmas newsletters in lieu of Christmas cards.

Reuse Christmas cards for crafts, ornaments, and gift tags. (See our article 15 Creative Ways to Recycle Christmas Cards for more great ideas.)

Some Christmas cards make wonderful postcards if you cut them in half. Write a message on the back and attach a postcard stamp. You save money on postage and on not buying new Christmas cards.

Christmas Wrappings and Trimmings

Purchase wrapping paper, tape, cards, and other Christmas paraphernalia after Christmas. Some Christmas wrapping paper can even be used year round so you might not have to buy other wrapping paper if you plan carefully.

Save large scraps of wrapping paper to use for smaller gifts. You can also use these scraps for packing material when mailing Christmas gifts or wrapping fragile ornaments for storage.

Consider using alternatives, such as fabrics (great for samples or small pieces you have no other use for). The newspaper, such as comics, make wonderful wrappings for children. You could even wrap a model car in the auto section of the newspaper.

You can make the wrap as part of the present. (I once received a wedding gift wrapped creatively in a decorative towel I was able to use for many years.) Scarves or linens can make great wraps as well.

Stencil brown paper grocery bags to use for wrapping.

If you need a new Christmas tree, lights, or other decorations for next year, buy them after Christmas when stores reduce prices dramatically.

Consider decorating your tree with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Not only does this make a fun family activity, but popcorn is inexpensive and an enjoyable treat for the birds after Christmas.

Christmas Ornaments and Decorations

Make homemade Christmas ornaments and decorations. Why buy costly ornaments and decorations when you can have fun making your own?

Before throwing out that old artificial tree that no one else wants, consider cutting off the branches and using them to make wreaths.

If you have grapevines in your yard, you can dry the branches for making wreaths both for decorations or as gift ideas.

By preparing and planning carefully, you can save on financial resources and frustrations and have a relaxed Christmas season.

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Copyright © 2006 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.

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