Everyone starts with a holiday budget, but often, before we realize it, the budget is blown, despite our best intentions. One way to get your holiday budget back on track – or to keep it on track, if you haven’t derailed it already – is by doing some things yourself. Here are some suggestions to consider. Decorations can also be made to be given away as gifts, particularly edible ones, and decorations do not have to be expensive.
1. Thinking of ordering a huge holiday bouquet for the holiday table? That can easily cost you $50 or more, especially if you were going to have them delivered. Instead, think creatively. Visit a local craft store, such as A. C. Moore, and purchase some silk flower stems of your favorite flowers. By making your own flower arrangement, you will save money and have a table centerpiece for years to come.
2. Looking to save even more money on a do-it-yourself holiday decoration for the table? Here’s a way to make a holiday decoration for about ten dollars or so. Pick up a decorative wicker basket at a garage sale for a dollar or so. Take a walk in a park or woods where there are pine trees. Collect some pine cones, and arrange them neatly in the basket. To add extra interest to the pine cones, take a bit of craft glue and lightly apply glitter on the tips of the cones. Choose colors that please you; you can opt for the silver and gold, red and green, or choose a color to complement your table linens and china.
3. If you know a slightly-stressed out parent trying to find some time away from the little ones, consider an early gift. Offer to watch their children for an afternoon. Keep them busy by having them make a holiday decoration that they can then bring home for themselves. A simple decoration is to make a holiday “candle” arrangement. For this, you will need some old paper towel and toilet paper cardboard tubes, some colorful wrapping paper, a few sheets of yellow or gold paper, tape or glue, and scissors (preferably safety for children). Cut the wrapping paper to so each strip is about two inches wider than the length of the cardboard tube, then cut the paper again so that it is just wide enough to cover the exterior of the tube. Fold the excess length into the tube, then put a bit of tape on the inside to keep the wrapping paper on the tube. Cut out flame-shaped pieces from the yellow or gold paper, and tape them to the inside of the tube on one end. You can get quite creative with these; you can create a series in staggered heights, into a length that fits on window sills, or glue them together to symbolize a menorah. To help manage the “candles”, take a disposable plate, and glue the bottoms of the candles onto the plate. This a win-win, because the parents get some time to take care of things without the children underfoot and the children can enjoy the activity of making something for their homes. If you don’t have cardboard tubes, then consider stringing popcorn for the holiday tree or making snowflake cutouts to hang on the tree.
4. Consider making a gingerbread house, choosing the candies that the intended recipient likes the most as decorations. If the intended recipient is not fond of gingerbread, consider an alternative construction, such as Rice Krispie treats. The bars can be “glued” to each other using slightly-melted marshmallows.
5. You can make an edible fruit arrangement at a cost far less than what it would cost to have one delivered. Purchase the fruits whole at a grocery store, along with a box of wooden skewers. Cut the fruits into the appropriate sizes, skewer, and arrange.
6. Consider making a special book for your gift recipients. Perhaps a book of family and favorite recipies you would like to share would be an ideal gift for a brother-in-law or sister-in-law. Create a scrapbook showing highlights of your family history to share with new in-laws, to help welcome them into your family more fully.
Once you begin to look around, without your wallet or credit cards in hand, you will begin to see that there lots of ways to be creative and create meaningful gifts.