Ah, winter. Such a cozy time of year, seemingly wrapped up very like the presents to be placed under the tree come Christmas Day, with ideas of warmth and familial love and hot drinks and peaceful firesides. Indeed, the festive season is also an intensely busy one, replete with parties and simpler gatherings and traveling from one friend to another, back home, out again to a long-unseen mother, and so on.
The month of December itself, certainly, seems to fly by faster than Santa’s eight reindeer. However, very little attention is paid or conversation devoted to the cost of the winter holidays. You can save up for the most part of the year and yet come January, not even a cent seems to be left in the coffers. Yet, why let this gross expenditure continue unabated year after year? Why not make this holiday season the one where you take control of your dollars and create an affordable, equally enjoyable Christmas for all your loved ones? They’ll thank you for those savings come their birthdays.
If all else fails, however, moonlighting in a pocket-money earning type is the way to go (second-jobbing is not just for high school students and college leavers). Many menial yet paid jobs can be done online now, meaning no fuel expenditure, just your time (and maybe ocular and digital energy), or you could try this website for other avenues, which are both fun and full of possibility. You do, however, have to be responsible with your money.
Christmas Cards and Wrapping Paper
Let’s be honest: the price of Christmas cards (or any cards, no matter the occasion, for that matter) is extortionate. Add to that the fact that most people either throw out or hide away the cards they’ve received anyway, why is it that Christmas cards are still “a thing”? Far better a little note, even a scrap of paper (artfully torn, mind; perhaps tea-stained, also), that bears a few words of meaning, than a store-bought, fancy and glittery monster of season’s greetings that has been given to hundreds, if not thousands, of other people. However, failing even that creativity, (whisper it, but) recycle the cards you’ve received: tear off the side already written in and scrawl your endearments on the back of the original cover. It might be obvious, but it still counts as a Christmas card (so long as it is accompanied by a gift, of course).
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Speaking of gifts, wrapping paper is no cheaper than cards these days. Short of saving all the wrapping paper you’ve ever received – painstakingly peeling off sticky tape and neatly folding the paper away (as opposed to wildly ripping into your gifts and getting that particular satisfaction from a good old tearing open of the present) – packing paper makes a good substitute. It’s that cardboard-colored stuff that comes in all those Amazon boxes you secretly take in and put away when no one’s at home (not accepting any problem with online shopping whatsoever; not you). It might be an accepted fact that babies and cats prefer the boxes rather than the gifts, but when it comes to affordable wrapping, there is method in that madness, too.
The Fashion for Decoration
Somehow, somewhere, it has become the trend to change one’s decorations each year. When did this happen (and whose bright idea was it)? Very few households can afford the most lavish of Christmas tree decorations anyway, let alone rotating the decorations each year in accord with the latest fashions for tree trimming. Indeed, what happened to the tradition of hanging homemade creations from the verdant boughs of said tree? Remember those misshapen miniature stockings you sewed as a child? The popcorn beading strung with so many pricks of the needle into fingertips? Well, who’s to say that a glance back to the nostalgic can’t be recycled, too, this year? You wouldn’t be alone if you ventured into making your own presents, either. Further, getting “crafty” at Christmas keeps boredom at bay for young minds no longer occupied by school.
Also more simple and affordable is the hanging of candy canes on the tree (whether that tree be real or fake; indeed, therein also lies a hive of outrageous pricing to be debated). Even more affordable, though, is asking older relatives whether they have any decorations they no longer use, which might find their way into your own family’s keen hands. Certainly, Christmas gifts were once actually sentimental ornaments chosen for the recipient (not the latest games console or Smartphone); exchanged to assist the accumulation of decorations for new and growing families. Ah, such wise days.
Food and Drink
Let’s be honest: “turkey” is the last thing your family and your guests want to hear at Christmas. That bird was done at Thanksgiving, thank you very much (and for quite some time after, in the casseroles, and the soups, and the myriad of other ways you managed to use up the remnants of that overwhelmingly huge beast of a winged creature). Try something new this year. Turkeys are often overpriced anyway (not to mention difficult to cook without drying out to near-inedibility, hence all the leftovers). Instead, how does a succulent roast rib of beef sound? Or a simple offering of a tasty glazed ham? If you still want to add a little Masterchef pizzazz to the table, and show off those culinary skills you hone all through the year, how about experimenting with a little goose? With a dash of creativity, so many other meat (and vegetarian) options can become your family’s own, affordable tradition this Christmas.
Of course, the winter holidays crescendo to New Year’s Eve, as well, and that night is all about the fizz and the sparkle of… the booze (you were thinking fireworks, weren’t you?). It seems sacrilege to make a Buck’s Fizz from top end French champagne, so why not take a leaf from the Europeans and use Cava or Prosecco or even sparkling wine instead? Just like weddings, alcohol isn’t something to be skimped on during the festive season. Indeed, it is one luxury expenditure to treat yourself with and keep.