Other than the 4th of July, Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. During the holiday season, everyone is more cheerful and friendly to one another, there's beautiful decorations everywhere and who does not love watching Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf in Elf or Ebenezer Scrooge learn to hold Christmas in the past, present and future in A Christmas Carol? The holidays are filled with so many traditions and wonderful things to see and do that even though I hate the cold Chicago winter weather, I savor every minute of the holidays from Thanksgiving until New Years.
Last year, I moved right before the holidays and was very excited to have my own place to decorate. However, being a recent college graduate and living on my own, I was strapped for cash so I needed to decorate on a budget. I'm here to share a few tricks with you that I learned to ensure you get the most out of the holidays, without feeling like you have to spend a fortune.
An obvious item known to cause money pressures through the holidays is presents.
I used to buy gifts for up to ten people, between friends and family, but as we got older and everyone began wanting more expensive presents, I realized that was just not possible anymore. If there seems to be a lot of people on your holiday list, I'm always a fan of a secret Santa type gift distribution. On my mom's side of the family, the grandparents buy for the three grandchildren, the adults have a secret Santa exchange between the ten of them and the godparent's to buy a gift for their godchildren. It saves all of us money and the hassle of having to exchange what you do not like.
For a friend or a roommate that you need to get a gift for, I always put a cute photo in a decorated photo frame, something simple but does not cost a lot of money from Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond. These always make great gifts. Another way to save money on gifts is to shop sales through the year instead of just around the holidays. Spreading it through the year helps, as you're not spending so much at once and it prevails you from running around trying to find everyone's gift come December.
Another holiday essential is lighting. Living in an apartment, I did not have a front lawn to decorate, but my roommate and I still hung lights around the fireplace and on the tree.
Instead of using traditional incandescent lighting, we decided we wanted to be more environmentally friendly and bought LED lights. LED lights have many benefits to their use, but the one that was most appealing to us was the monthly savings and low-cost. They're available in strands for both indoor and outdoor use, with packs starting at $ 9.99.
You can run twice as many lights using LED and still save money on your energy bills over traditional Christmas lights because they use 90% less electricity. They can last up to 100,000 hours for years of use, so you do not have to worry about buying new lights every season and you do not have to worry about replacing any bulbs. LED lights use light emitting diodes , which have no filaments that burn out, resulting in no bulbs to replace, which is always a bonus since it can feel like your replacement half your light strand before anything is decorated.
When it comes to decorations, you do not need to spend an entitlement paycheck to have your home look like a page from Martha Stewart Living, but I understand the desire to have your home look elegant since Christmas is the best time of the year for gorgeous home decorations, both indoor and outdoor.
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As long as it's done tastefully and there is a theme, you can get away with almost any color at Christmastime. The most popular ones however include red, silver, gray, white, vibrant green, orange, lemon, gold, and purple. My favorite combination is using purple and gold, without forgetting the traditional colors of red, green, and silver of course.
A great way to save money during Christmas and put a more personal touch on your holiday decorations is to gather the family around and make your own Christmas tree ornaments. Now, I'm definitely no whiz when it comes to crafts so I picked a relatively easy project of glass ball ornaments, which turned out looking fabulous and did not cost me a whole lot.
Here's what you'll need:
- Glitter paint
- Frost coating
- Craft store jewels
- Clear glue
There are three different ways you can decorate these types of ornaments. My favorite is to simply take clear glue, make the outline of what I want and then apply my decorative pieces. You can also make cutouts of different holiday shapes and photos, tape them to the ornament and use spray paint, removing the cutouts when you're finished. Or, you can simply frost the balls with decorative spray paint. All three are simple and will have you're house looking festive in no time.
The holidays are a time for family, cheer, giving and so much more. Do not let the stress of decorating or spending lots of money turn you into a Scrooge come holiday time. Follow some of these steps and turn to the Internet as a resource this holiday season and you will be stress free and able to enjoy all the wonderfulness around you.