Some people call it being "frugal" others "cheap", I call it, "Being Smart". No matter how you look at it, Christmas should be a time of Good Cheer, not a depressing budget buster.

    The first thing to remember is "Your attitude"! Focus on the true meaning of Christmas, attitudes are contagious, if you are positive so will others. If you are a competitive type of person look at the season as a competition, just how much can you save? Then use your winnings (savings) for something important like something special you wouldn't normally buy, or pay off an old bill.

    Do an inventory - Sit down with a notepad and write down what you need to accomplish and what have to work with, what skills do you have, what do you have around the house to work with? How much can you really afford to spend? Homemade gifts are NOT considered being cheap, it's a way of letting a person know they are worth one of your most valuable comities, "Your Time".  A homemade gift is a gift from the heart.

    Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

    • Skills - basic sewing, crafts, baking, write poems...
    • Home stuff - old clothing or fabric scraps that can be made in to decorations, stuffed toys...
    • Odd cups make neat candles, broken or chipped dishes for mosaics.
    • Outside - Fall leaves, pine cones...
    • Friends - a great source for learning new crafts, or to barter with

Team work - If your or a friend is one of the many who isn't working right now and have more time than money, team up. Most of us have different skills than our friends/family.  One can bake and the other do a craft, or the two of you can do different crafts and swap out items.

    Establish traditions that don't cost a lot
    Family night making decorations, is much cheaper than shopping for them. Have "Pot-luck" dinner party for friends, in place of a formal sit down dinner.

    Agree on price limits.

    Make a list of everyone, and how much you want to spend.

    Buy or make one nice gift for a family, that every one will enjoy.

    Bake something for co-workers, or have a pot luck with an ornament exchange.

    Don't forget about size & weight for gifts that must be shipped

    Have gifts dropped shipped. Most online, catalog, TV shopping (QVC & HomeShopping) companies offer this, also some larger department stores. This saves you the cost of shipping the item twice, as well as time.

    Shop alone. If taking someone take only what cash you will need. No checks, AMT card, or credit cards.

    Eat before you shop. Cuts down on that chance of buying all those great looking snacks.

    Buy in bulk - Many stores sell in bulk for much less. If you can us it all, that's money saved. If you don't need that many, then split it with a friend.  Example: A set of 6 or 8 coffee mugs, and easly be split into two sets of four or even made into 'his & her's" gifts for several couples. 

    If the store doesn't offer free wrapping, ask for a box (if needed) and wrap it yourself.

    Keep emergency gifts on hand. For those folks who decided to surprise you with a gift, you didn't expect, and for hostess gifts. These can be from a wide ranged of items, from bottle of domestic wine, to handmade Christmas decorations. A nice one is to keep some sugar cookie or gingerbread dough in the freezer and a decorated box. With only a few hours notice you can have fresh holiday cookies.

    Credit Cards

  • Choose which credit card you want to use.
  • Place all others in a zip-lock freezer bag.
  • Place the bag in a bowl of water.
  • Place bowl in freezer.
  • Thaw in February.

  • Department store offering a free gift and discount for applying for a credit card.

  • Go for it, take the gift, charge one gift.
  • Immediately write a check for the amount.
  • When the bill comes in rip out the check and mail it.
  • Either cut or freeze card.

  • Stocking stuffers can be handled two ways.

  • 1. Set aside how much you want to spend and buy in one trip.
  • 2. Start in the summer, buy an item here and there and put in the stash box.

  • Buy the right size! It may be on close out, and a great deal, but only if the person can wear it.

    If the person lives in the house, (your wife) look at the tags in her clothing. Check jackets, sweaters, skirt, and paints. WRITE this information down.

    Women's Suits and Dresses


    S M M L L XL
    American 8 10 12 14 16 18
    British 10 12 14 16 18 20
    Continental 38 40 42 44 46 48
    Women's Shoes

    American 6 6 1/2 7 7 1/2 8 8 1/2
    British 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7
    Continental 38 38 39 39 40 41

    Christmas Portraits are very traditional and nice gifts. However can be very stressful, here are a few tips to ensure you get a portrait fit for giving.

  • Use a real studio, especially if you have children. Portable ones may save a couple of dollars, but there is a BIG trade off. Long lines, make for cranky kids. Also many use poor quality supplies, there is nothing worse than a couple of years down the road seeing you portrait fade. Also many of these companies don't hire trained photographers.

  • If your family includes a young child, set the appointment during your child's best time of day. Hungry and/or tired kids spell disaster.

  • If you don't feel conformable with the photographer, request a different one. After all they are humans, and not every photographer will "click" with every customer.

  • If the portrait is only of your child, bring a favorite toy from home. This adds a personal touch, and much more personal than the studio's toys. Also if they are wearing clothing with a print choose a solid background, or vice versa.

  • For family portraits, try to make sure everyone is dressed in the same color family, also avoid loud prints.

  • If you family has more than 4 people, let the studio know when you make the appointment. Most are set up for 4 and under, and may have to arrange things for a larger group.

  • If your studio has a digital monitor reject the photos that are not perfect. The camera picks up more than the monitor actually shows.

  • Spread the cost over the year

  • Buy Christmas wrapping paper, and craft supplies the day after Christmas.

  • For people you know you will need to buy for next year, keep an eye out for out of season sales. January is a great time for buying sweaters, coats, mittens, and other winter gifts.

  • Keep an eye out for stores going out of business or moving. Warning watch out for electronics or other items that the warranty is important. Since many of these start the day of purchase.

  • Hit spring and summer rummage and garage sales. Many times you will find great bargains for arts and crafts ideas, as well as Christmas decorations. To put you in the mood place a Christmas CD in the car, after all what could be more cooling than "White Christmas" on a 100o day?

  • Going someplace 'cool' for vacation, pick up something unique for that special friend or family member and hold on to it until the holidays.

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