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Christmas Gifts and Celebrations On a Budget
by: David Arnold Livingston

If not for the fact that Christmas is a time of laughter and merriment, the yuletide season can be awfully frustrating especially for people who have a budget to think of. With lots of expenses for the Christmas celebration already lined up at your door -- decorations, dinner, gifts -- sticking to the family budget can be difficult, at best! That is, unless, you are smart enough to come up with creative ideas on how to spend Christmas with a bang without spending a lot.

Here are some tips:

1) Reuse paper, bows and decorations.

Since Christmas happens every year, it is a good idea to reuse decorations and other yuletide materials for succeeding years.

Christmas trees and Christmas decorations, for instance, may be used over and over again until they wear out. If the family wants to create something different every year, they can always work with decorations that are already there and then buy some new ones to spruce the old ones up.

Although some families still opt for a real pine tree during the Christmas season, most use artificial ones, as they are more cost-effective and practical.

Christmas materials that can be recycled are yuletide decorations like lanterns, plates, table runners, curtains, bed sheets, pillowcases and all those home furnishings with Christmas designs. Using the same things year after year can however be pretty tiring. What you can perhaps do is to add a new element every year or to alternately use the home decors.

When storing materials that you will use again, make sure that you put them in a place that is easily accessible. Carefully store them in boxes and put them in a cool dry place to prevent moisture from coming in.

2) Make your own gifts.

Use your creativity to save money and still come up with the best celebration. Instead of buying Christmas pillowcases, sheets and place mats, you can create your own designs. Take a look at your house and look for things that you can use. For instance, instead of buying artificial flowers for a Christmas centerpiece, why not make use of the flowers that you grow in your garden? Another idea is to buy some small decors in craft stores and use them to spruce up curtains, runners and pillowcases.

3) You can make your own Christmas tree decorations. In fact, some people even personalize their Christmas tree decorations by putting the photographs of each family member on the tree. Young children in the family can also use the projects that they have made in school to decorate the family tree. Decoration-making is also a fun way for parents and children to bond.

4) Make your own gift cards, wrappers and table cards for dinner celebrations. Why buy when it is easy to make your own? All you need to do is gather some craft materials that may be sitting in your attic. You will be amazed at how fun it is to make your own Christmas wrapping paper and gift cards. You can coordinate them with each other and they will be totally unique!

5) Save money on the Holiday Meals.

Going out to eat may pose several advantages, two of which are, you don't have to prepare the food and you don't have to wash the dishes. Still, eating at a restaurant can chip away at a major portion of your Christmas budget. If you don't have extra money, it is advisable to just stay at home and cook dinner yourself. In addition to saving a lot of money, you will also be able to control the ingredients, making sure that they are not only delicious but also nutritious.

To economize and add some surprise to the menu, you can ask your guests to bring a dish. One family can prepare the appetizer while the other family will take care of the dessert. This way, the cost of the dinner will not only be shouldered by the host family but by everyone in the guest list. And it will add entertainment and conversation as you lift the lid off the dishes to uncover the blessing within!


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