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It's that time of year again, time
for traveling, decorating, holiday parties, family, friends,
relatives and of course. . . . shopping.
How many of you simply whip out the
credit card and start charging every gift you can find, only to
dread the day when your statement arrives in the mail?
Or are you one of the few that save a
little every month just to cover the holiday expenses when they come
Before you spend your money on the
latest, hottest, newest gadgets, take a look at these options that
will really save you quite a pocketful.
YOUR HOLIDAY LETTER
Sending a yearly "wrap-up" letter to your family, friends
and relatives is a great way to save time and money. Instead of
buying expensive Hallmark cards and writing individual letters to
everyone on your list, why not design your own holiday letter?
When writing a "wrap-up"
letter, remember this is the perfect time to inform friends and
relatives what's been happening in your family's life over the past
year. Even if something important happened in your life back in
February or March, some of your acquaintances might not have heard
about it, so let them know.
After writing a rough draft, use your
computer (or a friend's) to help produce an attractive letter. You'll
find programs such as Microsoft Word or Publisher with wonderful
"wizards" that will walk you step by step through the
process so you will have a beautifully designed letter in about an
hour or two.
SIMPLE GIFT IDEAS
Sit down and take the time to think about what each person on your
list would like to receive. Of course everyone would love to get
tickets for a seven day Caribbean cruise, but very few of us can
afford to spend that kind of money on a present.
Here are a few ideas to get you
thinking of all the possible gifts that can be easily put together
without the need to spend much money.
Know of anyone entering college? Put
together a "care package". Fill it with all the basic
necessities a college student might need (or want). Cookies, snacks,
toiletries, wool socks, a new college student "manual",
etc... Anything you think a young 18-21 year old student could use
while away at school.
Do one of your relatives work in an
office? Put together an "office pack". The key is in the
presentation. Find a suitable container and pack it with office
supplies, personalized pens or coffee mugs, magazines, Far Side
calendar, crossword puzzle book, etc.
CREATE A BASKET
Have you seen the decorative basket assortments that are sold around
the holidays? You'll generally find them in malls from such chains
as Hickory Farms or Sees Candies. Why pay $30-$50 for a basket of
"goodies" that probably only costs about $5 to put
together? Put the basket together yourself, save a fortune, and even
add a bit more creativity.
You can find baskets (straw usually
works best) at any discount store or yard/garage sales. Then, simply
line the bottom with a decorative cloth (ie: colored bandana,
checked napkins, etc...), organize the appropriate items and
trim/wrap with holiday decorations.
You can find all types of holiday
arts & crafts ideas in books at your local library or on the
Internet. The possibilities are endless. Here are a few basket ideas
to get you started:
Coffee Lovers Basket
coffees, mugs, stirrers, creme assortments, Sunday comics
variety, chocolate/fudge toppings, funny napkins, cocoa mixes
Traditional Jelly Basket
of homemade jelly, muffin/cornbread mix, spatula, butter & knife
Sweet Tooth Basket
small jars of candy, cocoa mix, peanut brittle, chocolates
Pasta Lovers Basket
Jars of various
pastas and sauces, Parmesan cheese, pasta ladle, strainer
Fire Starter Basket
stick matches, starter blocks, candle scents/oils, ash shovel
GREAT LINK - http://www.stretcher.com/stories/981207i.cfm
Here's a link to great recipes on how to make peanut brittle, bath
oils & salts, brownies, potpourri and more for your baskets
attractive gift, perfect for friends, co-workers, and neighbors. A
nice large sized jar filled with either brownies or candies. Attach
ribbons or bows to the lid and decorate with puffy paint or simply
glue colored pasta shells around the jar. Again, be creative.
Homemade Decorative Cookies
Great teacher or babysitter gifts. Buy a
cookie cut out pattern, add some colorful icing and a few ribbons
with a nice card is a special holiday gift.
for any occasion, great for friends or loved ones. Gather pictures
of the person you're making the collage for. Look for pictures of
various places you've both been and fun times you've shared. Once
you have your pictures, cut and organize them to make an attractive
display. Glue them in place, decorate the frame and you have a gift
that's a lasting memory. How can you put a price on that?
Get a recipe for a hardening clay from any holiday crafts book. A
childs' foot or hand imprint creatively decorated make excellent
gifts for grandparents or relatives. This is something special that
you can only give once. Your kids will quickly grow up.
An 8X10 of the family/kids is a perfect gift for grandparents or
distant relatives you might not get to see very often. You can even
make a holiday frame for it. Look for low prices at JC Penneys or
Who doesn't like to read magazines? Reasonably priced, magazine
subscriptions make excellent gifts. Find out what magazines or
interests they have and then every time your friend receives another
issue, they'll think of you.
TIS THE SEASON . . . . KEEP THAT IN
All too often, the holidays seem to come and go in a flicker of an
eye leaving us wondering if we even had a celebration at all. Take
the time to visit with others whom you do not get to see very often.
Spend time with the elderly in your family. Start a 'tradition'
within your family that everyone, including the kids, can
participate in. These will be your cherished memories of the loved
ones in your life that no gift can replace.