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Ten Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season
By: Marlie Antonic

     This is the time of year when saving money is as important as spending it! You can still spread holiday cheer without spending up a storm. Here are ten ways to keep your pockets well-lined and your holidays happy:   

1. Don’t spend all your hard-earned money on expensive wrapping! Shop local dollar stores or dollar sections of large retailers to find wrapping paper, bags, tissue paper, ribbon, bows, and nametags. This frees up more money to spend on the gift itself.
2. Take advantage of bargain prices at the grocery store during Thanksgiving to stock up for Christmas. Buy a few turkeys and freeze them to use throughout the holiday season. Even the leftovers will have you saving money on dinners. Load your pantry with baking essentials while they are on sale. Everything from butter and sugar to pre-made pie crusts and pumpkin can be found for rock-bottom prices this time of year. Many stores even offer a free turkey for Thanksgiving if you shop six out of eight weeks in their stores. Check your local grocery stores to see which ones offer this type of promotion.
3. Give gifts made with love by you and your children. Buy some inexpensive mason jars and fill them with homemade (or even store bought) hot cocoa mix topped with mini-marshmallows. Tie a festive ribbon around the lid and you have an easy, inexpensive gift. Have your children draw special pictures for each month of the year and take them to your local photo developing center where they can be made into calendars. Relatives who do not get to see the children often will have a very special keepsake of them in the year to come.
4. Make ornaments for your tree. Buy some shiny cookie cutters and tie a ribbon through them at the top of the cutter. Hang on your tree and enjoy the sparkle. 

5. Turn Christmas cards into nametags. Simply cut out the desired image from the front of a Christmas card and use a hole-puncher to punch a hole at the top. Use the backside of the card to address who the item is to/from. Attach with ribbon to the gift, or forego the hole-punching entirely and adhere it to the gift with tape.
6. Give a magazine subscription as a gift from a magazine of which you are already a subscriber. This is the time of year that magazines offer steep discounts for gift subscriptions if you are already a subscriber. You can get some for as little as $5.00 for a whole year. That’s a good deal. Make sure, of course, that the recipient shares your interest in the same magazine.
7. Replace burned out bulbs on light strands before purchasing new ones. It’s worth a try! If only a few bulbs are out, replace them. Also, consider investing in LED lights for your tree and outdoor decorations. Although pricier up front, they have long lasting benefits. They use up to 90% less in energy costs and do not burn hot, so they are not a fire risk.
8. If you’re sick of listening to the same Christmas CDs, buy a few blank CDs and create your own Christmas music mix. This is less expensive than buying new CDs and still gives you the variety you crave.
9. If you are offered a box or wrapping when you check out at the counter, take it! Even if you think you do not need it, it may come in handy later for another gift. If your purchase doesn’t require a box, ask anyway! This is the time of year that stores like to promote themselves, and these boxes are virtually free advertising. Some stores may even throw in a nametag or extra ribbon for you to use at home.
10. Buy in bulk. When you find candles on clearance or spa sets at half price, buy as many as you can. Give to teachers, mail carriers, hair stylists, or anyone on your list. As long as these gifts are going in different places, people won’t know you bought them all the same thing. All they will know is that you remembered them this time of year.

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Ten Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season
By: Marlie Antonic
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