Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Holiday Help is on the Way!

It is the first week in October and my thoughts revolve around the holidays. Now, some of you (alright, a lot of you) probably groaned when you read that and out of those some of you even stopped reading. But for you heartier sorts who don’t want to miss out on my holiday help, hints, and how-tos you’ll be glad you continued to read.

I realize I am a bizarre breed of human being who actually looks forward to the holidays and plans for them for 12 months out of every year. You needn’t be like me to benefit from my suggestions. You did the footwork by logging on to this post and all of the ones that will be coming to you as the weeks and months unfurl.

Holidays refer to all of the big ones that are coming our way. From Halloween to Thanksgiving and the gift-giving holidays of Chanukah and Christmas as well as New Year’s all are included.

I don’t reinvent the wheel. I have gleaned information from hundreds of sources throughout my life. Some work great, some may work for you but never did for me, and some are just fun to read and then move on to the “real world”.

As the economy is still a tough and touchy situation, gift-giving becomes an issue for many. Yet the gift-giving holidays are around the corner. Now is an ideal time to spend a little time, effort, and money to make those holidays tolerable to the budget.

While shopping anywhere – clothing stores, grocery stores, convenient stores, discount stores, etc. – check out the bargains.

Clearance racks, items priced for quick sale, and the like offer neat items that may be “out of date” but still usable and smart. A summer t-shirt marked down for quick sale can be layered under warmer items. The t-shirt may only cost a few dollars but it can still have a huge impact when presented creatively.

Also pay attention to “BOGO” sales. These buy one get one free or half off can extend your budget. Buy Mom and Aunt Sally the same thing and it cost you a fraction of what it might have had you not hit the BOGO sale.

All stores have some section that offers sale items – even the auto parts store, men!

Acquiring gifts is just one part of the holiday season, but not the only and certainly not the most important.

Traditions are the foundation of holiday celebrations but they, too, need to be reexamined periodically. For example, my boys were getting the Lego Advent Calendar for the last several years. This year they are even more higher priced and we have so many that it would be a true waste of money to purchase them.

I talked it over with my oldest boy and we agreed a new tradition would be better – instead of the Lego Advent Calendars we are going to substitute chocolate-filled ones (far more reasonable) and then create a personalized family one that has activities instead of toys. I’ll write 25 things for us to do as a family for each of the 25 days of Advent. I’ll include things like “read a favorite Christmas story”, “watch a favorite Christmas special”, and “drink hot cocoa and eat popcorn while looking at the tree”.

As much as kids insist they want this toy or that, it’s the time with adults they crave the most.

In fact, going back to gift-giving, remember the same is true. A new “it” toy gets played with for a few minutes and gets lost among the wrappings and usually stopped playing with by New Year’s Day if not before. But gifting a trip to the local zoo, a homemade “Cake-of-the-Month” plan, or a project to work on together throughout the weeks is an investment that costs little money but yields a high return.

But I digress, Halloween is the holiday that arrives at the end of this month. Instead of putting money out for another new costume, do what we used to do as kids, raid your own closets. Be creative (I know, I’m not either) and just own it.

One year I put on a slinky black evening dress and went as a “Bond Girl”. My husband threw on his tuxedo, added his impossibly small digital camera pen and went as James Bond. We had a blast and it looked and felt like date night while we celebrated Halloween.

As a kid I once wore a blonde wig and a “stylish” outfit and went as Barbie Doll! Boys can throw on their camouflage pants and trick-or-treat as G.I. Joe.

Holidays are about fun, experimentation, and shared experiences. They are too often associated with stress – monetary, familial, and otherwise – but my goal is to offer as many ideas possible to alleviate the stresses of the elongated holiday season.

Join me every week for some tips, recipes, hints, ideas, and help to get you ready and excited for the holidays whatever your budget and emotional state!

This is my third year writing about the holidays, but I’ve been accruing information and executing ideas for well over 30 years!

Stick with me and I’ll make the holidays FUN!

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