Friday, November 21, 2008

Ways to save $ at christmas time

We all dread Christmas shopping because we know were going to spend more than planned. I don't have a goal to beat, just as long as I save money. My goal every year is to see a smile and a special moment when the person opens up a gift I have given them. That is my goal. The gift of thanks. Thanks to Woman's Day Magazine,
here are a few ways to save money.
Shopping Smart
1. If you have a gift idea already and know what you want from a certain store, check their website. If they offer free shipping, take it. You save $ by not having to pay gas driving there to get it. Plus a lot of sites have offers where you spend x amount of money and get a free gift with free shipping. You can give that free gift to someone else.
2. You a crafter? Have a friend who loves bath items? Make them simple bath salts. Put it in a pretty jar with ribbon. Recipes are endless on the web and you know you have extra ribbon and a mason jar already. Why spend $10 on bath salts when you can buy a bag for $3 or less and just throw in some oils or favorite perfume you know they like that you have. Works perfectly.
3. Sets-Costco or Sam's Club is a perfect example. They have these basket sets with all kinds of bath items, or snack foods, chocolates, etc. If its saving you money to get the whole basket instead of getting them separate, get it. Then you can separate it and get 2 gifts from 1. Or you can pick up a set of plates, and set of cups. Separate them. Give each person 1 plate and 1 cup, then add a packet of cocoa and some chocolates. Whala! Perfect gift.
4. Give the gift of time. Sounds so simple and it is. Give your friend a card with the promise of a walk or hike just the two of you. Plan a day that you will do this wherever they want. It will be a fun free day for the two of you to chit chat and catch up. Pack your own lunches and drinks to save even more money. Bring your camera and take lots of pictures so you can capture this moment on film forever.
5. Think themes. Say you found pretty soap on clearance. Maybe make some bath salts, look for a rope or pj's on clearance, or make a pretty music CD for them. Theme is "time to relax". Let them have a spa at home. I would love this one.
1. Have a swap meet. Invite all your friends to come over for drinks. Tell them to bring any decorating items they don't want anymore. Everyone puts all of it on the table and then pick what you want. My junk might be their treasure. This is a great way to recycle your decorating items. You get a new item for free! And they get a new item for FREE! Whats not fun about that?
2. LED. Invest the tiny bit extra to get them. They last 10 times longer than traditional lights. Our town is doing this with the Christmas tree they have every year. In the long run it will save us and were all willing to put up the money to do this. There are even solar ones out there. Google solar Christmas and you would be amazed what you will find.
3. Let nature decorate for you. Every season I go keep my eye out for things I can take home to decorate. Right now its fall so I look for the prettiest leaves I can find to put around candles, in glass jars, and my kids like to craft pretty pictures with them. I just love all the colors. Know someone with a holly tree? Ask if you can have some trimmings when they trim it. Wild pussy willow? Cut some and bring it home. Last week I found oak branches with leaves on them in my backyard. Now they are in green vase I had in the corner . So pretty and free! Pine cones, leaves, limbs, nuts, and many more things are everywhere. You just have to look for them.
Wrap it
1. Buy Christmas wrap at 90% off when its clearance after Christmas. You will have to store it but it saves you a ton of money.
2. Use plain brown paper wrap found in the shipping and craft aisles. Let your kids go nuts. Just tell them it has to be Christmas related.
3. Newspaper-Use the comic strips for colorful paper or just the rest of it for a black and white theme. If you can get a hold of foreign newspapers, use them. Much more fun this way. There are free newspapers everywhere. Just look for them a month ahead so you don't have to waste gas money looking for them.
4. If you have to have the pretty paper, use a coupon. Michael's or Joanne has a 40% off coupon almost every week.
Seasons Greetings
1. Deliver your mail. Go for a walk and deliver your neighbors or friends Christmas cards or gifts. Just knowing you took the time to take it to them makes them feel so much better. Or next time your in the area, stop by and give that one friend their gift.
2. A lot of online photo companies are offering deals just for Christmas time. Do your research and remember to even figure in on shipping. That might be free cards you get but is it worth the $8 shipping? Do your research.
3. Make your own cards. This year I took extra blank cards I had and decided to make my own. I'm not a stamp person so I had to get creative. Well I received a catalog in the mail for Christmas cards. Each card had a small picture of it. I just cut out those pretty pictures and glued them to the front of my blank cards. Then I remembered I had a scrap book paper with tons of words related to Christmas. I cut out phrases and glued them on the inside. Free Christmas cards!!! I also made Thanksgiving ones this way. But I also used borrowed leave stamps and gold ink. So pretty.
8 things you don't need
1. Bar-You don't need expensive wines. A inexpensive wine will do just fine. No one will even notice.
2. Appetizers-Just do one little plate with dip and chips. Or spread and crackers. There will be so much main food that they wont notice.
3. Expensive spreads-just put out some hummus, or sour cream with ranch packet mixed in, or just cream cheese and you will be fine. Why spend $5 on something you can get by on $1?
4. Drinks after the main course. People will be too stuffed to drink them anyways. Maybe just bring out some cider? Get in the fall spirit.
5. Sweets sweets sweets. Maybe instead of having 8 different desserts, try 2 really good ones. Or maybe make some yummy cookies. This will save you a bundle as well. Pies and stuff can get expensive.
6. Christmas table linens. Use a solid basic color like off white. Then maybe throw in some pine cones, red ribbon, Or throw some glue on the pine cones and sprinkle with red glitter. Have any red candles? throw those in. Or just wrap a plain candle with red paper(just don't burn it). Table runners can be bought for only $1 at the dollar store. They come in many colors besides red too.
7. Use less meat. Do you really need a whole ham? Maybe do a course with ham in it. Turkey is the main meat anyways, just compliment it.
8. Place cards-Just cut squares and give your kids some stamps and let them go nuts. I recommend covering your table with newspapers first. LOL! Then take a pen and write every ones names. So pretty and FREE!
Guest Lodging
Instead of paying for rooms for your guest, here are a few suggestions.
1. Have your kids share beds, and offer them one of their rooms.
2. Have an air mattress from camping? Set it up with your nice linens like a real bed.
3. RV? Set it up for them as a retreat.
4. Family near by? Talk to them and maybe you can work something out . Maybe they have an extra room some family can use.
5. Rec Room or basement? Set that up as a hotel room for everyone.
6. What about grandparents? Give your bedroom up for them and have a camp out in your children's rooms. Sounds like fun!
For the cook
1. Buy in bulk. If your local deal store has bulk for less, get it this way and save money. Buy what you need, not what size they want you to buy. Saves on packaging as well.
2. Warehouse stores. Costco is our local store. If its much cheaper to buy flour from them, do it. Just separate into other containers when you get home. Saves you a bundle. Chocolate chips are also a good buy.
3. Shop at home first. Before you do your bid day of shopping, take a look at what you have and try to work with it. Have a bag of nuts? Make cookies. Get creative!
4. Buy by the box. Wine can be a good buy this way. Many stores will discount even more if you buy more than 6 bottles. Or just buy boxed wine. Target has many great wines that you can buy. They usually contain a equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. Usually much cheaper this way.
5. Special ingredients-get them early. Need pecans? You have to buy them early or your out of luck. Get these items the weeks before so you know you will have them.
6. Plan around sales-Soon canned cranberry sauce will be super cheap. Buy alot and set aside. My kids love it all year round. I can get it around 50 cents a can right now or wait till they want it and pay over $1 for it. My choice is 50 cents. Also meats will be on sale now and not later. Like turkey. Turkey will be much cheaper now. You can separate it and freeze it for later use. Chicken is also super cheap right now. I do this all year round. Saves me a bundle on my meat budget.

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