Saturday, November 06, 2010

Keep your holidays merry without the expense

(ARA) - The holidays offer unforgettable experiences of getting together with family, exchanging gifts, sharing meals and laughter. These warm memories will stay with you for the rest of the year. But too often, the expenses you incur celebrating the season can be an unpleasant reminder for months after the festivities end.

Just because the holidays are a special time doesn't mean you need to spend exceptional amounts of money or rack up credit card debt to enjoy the season. By doing things a little differently this year, you can save some cash without turning into a scrooge.

As a mother of two, savings expert Kim Danger is well aware of the expenses that come along with holiday celebrations. The author of "Instant Bargains" recently compiled her best holiday tips in a free e-book, "Year Long Holiday Guide," available at Here are a few of her cost-saving tips for the upcoming holidays:

Fun projects to celebrate and give thanks

* Summon your inner decorator. Make your own napkin rings using brown, orange and purple construction paper and a hot glue gun to construct harvest-themed napkin holders. Also, pick out some small pumpkins that you can use as placeholders with attached nametags for your guests.

* Don't waste money on expensive bakery cupcakes. Make your own festive turkey cupcakes using a chocolate cake mix to make the turkey's body. Frost the cupcakes and dust with chocolate sprinkles. Then add peanut butter cookies to the top for the turkey's head.

* Make an heirloom for your Thanksgiving table. Using a solid color tablecloth, have each dinner guest write something they are thankful for with a permanent marker. Bring the tablecloth out each year to add to it and remember the good things in your life.

Holiday spirit-filled activities

* The month of December means a time to celebrate for many cultures and faiths. Families across the globe celebrate holidays differently from country to country. Visit to learn about different holiday traditions around the world.

* Since decorations are so much a part of every holiday season, think of fun and inexpensive ways to make your home more festive. Use graham crackers to create a gingerbread house or make a Kwanzaa candle holder with baby food jars. Or glue flat wooden sticks together and sprinkle with glitter to create a sparkly Star of David.

* For a fun and easy take on hot chocolate, add chocolate candies, marshmallows and a candy cane. You can also package all the ingredients as a thoughtful, but inexpensive, gift.

"No matter how you choose to spend the holidays, remember to focus on the time spent with loved ones, even with all the other distractions," says Danger. "The good times with them will be what you want to remember the most, not the cost."

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