Top 10 Funky Frugal holiday tips

by Tanner Cangelosi

I absolutely love the holidays – everything about them. From the music, to the lights, to the food, it is such a fun time of year for our family. With the fun comes extra expenses, and I wanted to offer a few tips of things I do to cut down on the cost, yet still make it memorable for our family.

Display your Christmas cards: I love using a simple ribbon, some thumb tacks and clothespins to display all the Christmas cards we receive. It is easy and done with things I already have around my house. When Christmas arrives, my family votes on their favorite Christmas card, and that card is placed in the middle for everyone to see. Our friends from church – the Bridges – won last year! COST: Free

Use old Christmas records for décor: I purchased eight old Christmas records from a flea market for a quarter each. I love these because of the vintage look and the size of each record and case. Over the years I’ve used these in various places, such as chargers underneath plates, in windows, on bathroom vanities and in my Christmas tree. Anywhere they are placed, they provide some fun and character to that area. COST: $2

Place extra ornaments in a glass container: After I decorated my Christmas tree last year, I found that I had some ornaments that I loved, yet couldn’t use with the color schemes. So I placed them in a large glass vase –  it made for a lovely arrangement. COST: Free

Use old family Christmas cards/photos for display: One of my favorite décor items for Christmas is my family’s old photos. There is one in particular of my dad and his brothers dressed in their matching Christmas pajamas. It was framed in a brass metal frame, which I took off and spray painted red. It turned out so fun. It honors my dad and his family as well as spices up our guest bathroom during the holidays. COST: Free

Make a funky tree with odds and ends of similar color: When I was in college, I took a small tree that was pre-lit and went to town to make a funky tree for our tiny apartment. I still use this tree in our girls’ rooms today. I covered it in pearl Mardi Gras beads and random pink items from around our apartment at the time. I also used scrapbook pictures of vintage movie stars and topped it off with a pink loofa. This project was free since I used things I already had. I still get compliments on it every year.  COST: Free

Tree décor: I love the rolls of mesh that are sold for trees, wreaths and garland. I usually buy a few rolls each year and add to my collection. I like to use at least two to three rolls for my large tree. We still love to get the real tree because I love the smell! I use the mesh along with some wire to help it stay in place. From there I use old Christmas letters, homemade signs and jewelry bought from $1 Jewelry Galore to spice up my tree. My advice: Think outside the box.  Cost: $10/roll of mesh

Make a personalized Christmas sign with spare lumber: My husband always has extra lumber laying around from his latest project. Use your kids’ hand prints or foot prints in Christmas color paints to personalize it with “Ho Ho Ho” or a scripture verse and your family’s name. Finally, drill two holes and string with ribbon or wire. COST: Free

Make your own Christmas card: I like making one using paints, pictures and fun stamps/handwriting. I then take my card to a place like Crossman Printing in Downtown Conway to get multiples printed. This makes for a personal touch, yet doesn’t take you a month to make all your Christmas cards.  Cost: Usually about $0.25/card, if you do four to a page.

Gifts: I start my shopping around September. That is my first tip – plan ahead. If you have a large family, see if they might be willing to draw names. Our girls are young enough that we shop at Dollar Tree and garage sales for them. Grandparents buy their cool gifts anyways, not to mention most love the box more than the actual gift. If your kids are older, let them know what their gift can cost and let them give you a list of things that come in under that number. I think there is great value in teaching children thankfulness and the value of a dollar. The greatest idea for gifts I’ve heard of is a family writing letters to one another that they read aloud on Christmas morning. With the money that would have been spent on gifts, they adopt a family in need and wrap and deliver gifts on Christmas Eve. This could be done through your local church or an Angel tree. Cost: Your budget

Tubs: For the sad “teardown” part of Christmas, I encourage you to invest in some Rubbermaid tubs to protect and organize your décor. You will thank yourself next year. Cost: Usually about $5 a tub.

For making a lifetime of memories: Priceless