Saving Money at Christmas…

This year, since my husband was laid off in August and had to take a job at much reduced pay, we are particulary keen to save money.  Here are a few tips I thought I’d share with you:

1) Invest in LED Christmas lights.  Yeh, I know, that means spending some money.  But those little lights add up to a big savings.  Did you know that LEDs use one tenth the electricity of standard lights?  Plus, they are SOOOO much safer — very much cool to the touch.  And they last SOOOOO much longer than regular bulbs, so this is savings that will continue for years (not to mention it’s better for the planet).  I bought the colored mini-lights because I prefer their warm tones.  The white LEDs seem kinda almost blue to me.  Some people like that, though.  Whatever.

2) Send your presents to relatives who live far away NOW.  Do NOT wait.  It is five times as expensive to send things express at the last minute because you forgot to take care of this earlier.  Save money by thinking ahead.  And this particularly applies if you are sending presents to ME!  Don’t delay! 🙂

3) Cook for people.  Seriously.  Who really wants yet another bodywash/lotion/loufa sponge set or a kitchy little Christmas doo-dad?  Give folks what they really want: chocolate.  Here’s a simple truffle recipe that will make everyone SOOOO happy you are their friend.  Warm up one cup (240 ml) of heavy whipping cream in a saucepan over low heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add one pound + 6 ounces (625 g) of semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped.  Stir until chocolate is melted. If you want to add 3 tablespoons of rum or some other flavoring, you can do so now.  It’s you liver.  Put the pan in the fridge about an hour until mixture is firm.  Scoop out teaspoon-sized mounds onto a baking sheet and refrigerate again about a half hour.  Then roll each one in your hands to make it into a smooth ball, and roll balls in plain cocoa power, chopped nuts, or coconut — whatever you like.  These look so time-consuming and  fancy and taste so delicious.  But this is a super cheap and quick gift (makes about 65 truffles in less than two hours)!

4) Regift.  I mean do so deliberately.  Get together with friends for coffee at someone’s house and bring items that you want to get rid of (new or gently used).  Put them all out on a table and then everyone goes around and tries to see if any items might work as a gift for someone you know.  (Of course, this doesn’t work if the gift you want to regift came from someone at the regifting party!!)  In my case, though, I’ve got a few different sets of friends, and we don’t really give each other gifts anyway, so I anticipate no worries on that count.  This is a great way to do children’s gifts, by the way.  I mean little kids especially are almost more interested in the box than what’s inside!  And I think this is going to be pretty hilarious, too.  I mean wow some of the stuff people get — at least this event’ll be good for a laugh. 🙂

5) Do not buy wrapping paper!  Use what you can find around the house…like brown paper bags turned inside out  with red painted stars and a rafia ribbon wrapped around a cinnamon stick…or tinfoil with shiny ribbon…or the tried and true–newspaper comics page…for a small gift, create your own fancy paper from a plain sheet of white paper with watercolor paint splashed on it….  Use your imagination.  Time spent on a nice wrapping counts as part of the gift, you know.  And it’s possible to make your wrapping look like it took SOOOO much longer than it really did.

And now, it’s time for me to practice what I preach and wrap those presents that I need to send to California tomorrow!

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7 Responses

  1. Regarding Christmas wrap: One year I got a roll of newsprint and used autumn leaves as reverse stencils. I sprayed a mist of gold paint around them and tied packages with raffia. I felt like a “green” Martha Stewart.

    This year, I am using scrap fabric and making gift bags. People simply cannot throw these away and you can guarantee they will be reused!

  2. Great ideas, Carrie! I wish I were as handy with a sewing machine as you! Making reusable bags is the ideal solution, isn’t it?

    Thanks for stopping by and say i to the hubster and kids for me. 🙂

  3. Good ideas. We have been living a little more streamlined since our daughter was born and I’m glad for that. We’re in a little better place than others in this economy I think.

  4. Yeh, nothing like a trip to Peru to give me a wider perspective on what it really means to be poor. 🙂 We, too, are blessed. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Ooooh, the truffles sound so good! Of course I could try telling myself how healthy they are if I used dark chocolate. LOL.

    Another great wrap also is the comic section out of the paper. The Sunday ones are usually colorful and actually make nice looking gifts. The black and white ones give it that “art decco” look.

    Thanks for the tips. The BF is still out of work.

  6. Ouch, sorry the BF hasn’t found something yet. That is hard to handle. My best to him, and you!

  7. Thank you for the information about the LED lights–I had been thinking of buying them. Oh and the truffles — I may just have to make them for my chocolate loving husband (they sound SO much better then his usual chocolate treats)!
    I just found your website/blog recently and have been enjoying reading about lefse and your adventures in Norway. I LOVE lefse and want to learn how to make them (it is way too long between Scandinavian festivals here)!
    Take care, Aimee

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