I have tried to set aside money for holiday spending, even though there has been very little extra. But when there is, baking goods and easy to pop into the freezer things are great to stock up on. I will stock up Thanksgiving week on turkeys.
Since I have been cooking for 27 years, there is a permanent list in my head from which I shop. But, if you have trouble remembering all the items you need for holiday cooking, make a list and keep it in your wallet. As you stock up, watch for sales, use coupons, and compare prices.
We go through more baking items (brown sugar, white sugar, baking powder, cream of tarter, cream cheese, nuts, and chocolate chips) than we do the rest of the year combined. I begin to stock up on these things in October and continue until we get close to Christmas. These items all keep well in the refrigerator, pantry, or freezer.
Some of my friends use a coupon system that helps them save a lot of money. But, it is too much work for me to be an intensive coupon clipper. I just use coupons sparingly, only when I would purchase the item anyway. Now, my daughter is into coupons big time. She clips and clips.
You can also make a set of napkin rings to go with your handmade napkins.
Another fun homemade gift idea? What about cookie mixes in a jar? Directions for these projects can be found online. There are also other options with which to fill your jars such as soup mixes in a jar, baking mixes in a jar, and casserole mixes in a jar too. These all make lovely gifts.
Massages, pedicures, and manicures are also a nice option and won't cost much to give. With your gift of time, friends will receive a special treat that most of them can't afford to give themselves.
There are many ways to simplify the holidays. Not only to cut cost, but to decrease stress as well. When hosting my annual Christmas party later this year, all the guests will bring a dish to share. This will cut my expenses and make it easier to prepare for the event.
When the extended family started talking about Christmas, I suggested we draw names and only give that person one gift along with a price limit on it. Automatically, this cuts my amount of shopping and cost.
Also, there is no need to shop for holiday clothes and accessories. Let us all take a day in November and pull out our "festive" clothing and jewelry. Then, ask God to give us fresh eyes and a new creativity. When He does, we will have a "new outfit" that costs that costs us nothing.
I hope these ideas will get you started in preparing for a more frugal Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Remember these are holidays--or should I say, Holy Days--set aside to honor the Lord. Maybe the learn economy is a good thing. As we simplify and cut costs there us more time to think about the Reason for the Season: Jesus and His Goodness!
For the Joy Set before Us!
(Meredith Ludwig Curtis)