Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Potpurri

This past week we have been doing a lot of entertaining and celebrating the Christmas season. A few thrifty strategies and tips have come to mind:

Christmas Tree: We get a real tree every year, I just have to have the lovely smell of pine in the house. The past few years we have gotten our tree at Home Depot or Menard's. They have a large selection and reasonable prices. We have also tended to get a rather small tree. This saves some money, takes up less space, and we are also able to fill it up nicely with all of our ornaments.

Festive Food: My parents came to celebrate with us this week and my mom brought some amazing food. Lobster tails and a Frenched lamb rack. Yum! The lobster tails were from Aldi and the lamb was from Sam's Club. Places like this often have amazing deals on festive "foods of the season." I have heard that Aldi brings in lobster tails again around New Year's and Valentine's Day.

Another fun food tradition is to have fondue during the holiday season. Mushrooms, chicken, steak, and shrimp are tasty cooked in hot oil. You don't have to buy a lot of each thing since everyone eats a little of everything. Have fondue with several dipping sauces, a salad and baked potato and you will end the meal stuffed and have some great memories of that lone shrimp that someone lost in the fondue pot and tried to fish out! Or start with a basic cheese fondue (We love this one from Real Simple) and dip pre-boiled red potatoes, bread, and apple chunks.

Gifts: Gifts are usually a part of the holiday season and a part that can really set your budget back. One meaningful way to share with others is to forgo buying so many gifts and donating the money to a favorite charity. On year, we donated to a different charity in honor of each family member. We asked each person what kind of charity they would like us to give to, so they were able to be involved in the gift as well. Or a group can all chip in for one larger charitable donation in honor of one person or the whole family. Discussing spending limits with family and friends and drawing names for a gift exchange are other ways to keep the gift-giving thrifty while still meaningful.

Decorations: And as I mentioned here, remember to shop the after-Christmas sales on decorations and wrapping paper. Then remember what you bought and where you put it. I had a great surprise when I got out my tablecloths this year and found eight red cloth napkins I had gotten for 75% off at Target last year. Another way to save on decorations and paper products is to buy solid red, green, and silver paper plates and napkins throughout the year. They can be used during the holidays or on their own for other events too.

Merry Christmas!

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