Monday, November 24, 2008

Have A Happy (But Cheap) Holidays!

Karen's fabulous fall door decoration cost a staggering $ 1.50!

Pet's little friends came to live with her after a boxing day (day after Christmas ) sale. Now they stay in their own bargain box every holiday season.


That time is here, Karen. The season some folks love (you) and others only faintly like (me). Known far and wide as Ms. Scrooge, now that my kids are grown up, the only way I can get through the holidays, is to zip up my wallet and try to join in on the spirit. So, since everyone is worrying about THE ECONOMY, I thought I’d pass on some of my money saving trips. Okay, KA, quit rolling your eyes and pay attention. First I’m starting with my favorite subject, food. No matter how much all that gross commercialism gets under my skin I adore yummy holiday meals, and the many occasions to snack freely. But even here I look for bargains. Today I stopped at the grocery, you know for pick up stuff, bananas and tomatoes and walked out with two “specials of the day” both incredible good buys. Now a juicy fat ham and a plump roasting chicken reside in my freezer waiting patiently for holiday weekend revelry. Why have a great meal only on THE DAY when we have six weeks for gourmand bargain delights?


Well as I am a country girl at heart I’m always looking for deals. I don’t think I’ve paid full retail for anything in years. One advantage to being in the city are the endless places to save money and especially for the holidays. A big tradition in LA is to drive downtown to the freight train delivery depot and buy your produce and even your Christmas trees right out the piggyback container. Can’t get your tree any fresher and costing less except if you steal one out of the forest. : ) In fact when they off load all the trees it looks and smells like a forest. And for the most fabulous of holiday table decorations you just have to head for the flower market and then walk 20 blocks to the garment district and buy the most amazing fabrics for pennies on the dollar. People always wonder how I can afford to have my house decked out like a high end department store. I always give them a knowing smile and say, “I have a nose for deals!”


Positively fabulous. And here I thought you headed for Rodeo Drive to pick up your famous ornaments for your dazzling tree. Lots of our trees are stolen from the forest. Actually I have about a half acre of trees on my property. I bet more folks than usual will be cutting trees from the woods instead of laying out cash at expensive stands. Home made decorations can be very festive too. What’s prettier than decorative ropes made from pop corn and cranberries? We used to have a formula to make cookie like tree decorations. Alas they didn’t last through the years. Got to go now and clip coupons from the Sunday papers. Some folks tell me they don’t have time to go after these money savers, but for me it’s a hobby and I like to see the final grocery tab go down after they’re added up. I’m told they have a bunch on the internet, but I haven’t gotten into them…yet. Clipping from the papers rests my eyes after a day staring at the screen. At least that’s my excuse for searching, sorting and using these cash savers.


I love the Sunday papers too. I clip coupons but somehow they never make it from the kitchen drawer to the grocery store. I have the best of thrifty intensions though. : ) I have a confession to make, although I’m quite the renaissance woman and make my own curtains and sometimes my clothes, I don’t make my own ornaments. I do have a few of the ones my grandmother made out of old Christmas cards and they are some of the favorites on my tree. But that doesn’t mean I spend big bucks on the hundreds of sparkly decorations on my tree. No, I go to all the day after Christmas sales and snap them up for 75% off! And let’s not forget Thanksgiving decorating deals. You can snag them right now. I just bought a fabulous autumn leaf wreath for my front door as well as some I-can’t- believe-they’re-fake cattails and red leaf maple branches for a huge arrangement in the entryway at an amazing 85% off!! Total cost 7.00!!!!!!!


Woo hoo for you Karen! Do they give out cash prizes in decorating contests so you can get your money back? This year retailers are shooting out the bargains big time since they expect a holiday buying slump. Now’s the time to pick up your festive outfits, although they won’t be as rock bottom as at season’s end. Remember when we had to wait until after the holiday to buy cheap stuff? Not so this year. But then again, nothing’s quite the good savings as making do with what you have. Around here the custom is to deck the halls and everything else on Thanksgiving Day or not long after. I have a pretty front porch, easy to decorate with a few lights, candles, bows and wreaths. This will be the fourth year the very same adornments go out. My Christmas clothes also last for years. After all they only come out of the closet a few times every December. I remember buying my teddy bear Santa sweater-vest in a boutique at Marina Del Ray the year we went to California for Grandma’s 90th birthday. She would be celebrating her 102nd if she were still with us. Grandma’s gone, but I’ll be wearing the sweater to my chapter party this year.


Well that’s what I call putting your sweater to good use! But I have to admit I’m not a big fan of themed clothing. Maybe because I was forced to wear them as a kid. My Mom was a very accomplished knitter and she loved doing intricate themes to show off her talent. I had to put my foot down when at the age of 16 she proudly handed me a reindeer sweater with Rudolph’s nose made with a big red pom pom! But I have to admit I regret not hanging on to more of those sweaters. They really were works of art. But I’m sure someone is enjoying them today as they were so well made. I am proud to say I come from a very green family. They were recycling in the 1800’s. I love the fact that my furniture is 100 years old and belonged to my great great aunt. I have Christmas decorations that are over 80 years old. I try to keep their tradition alive by taking great care of my hand-me-downs. Of course many of the things that were considered out of date in the 1800’s are now worth a ton of money. I wouldn’t sell one piece. They look way to fabulous in my parlor. : )


That Rudolph sweater sounds cute! Wish I had one. DH has a much loved tee shirt he wears this time of year saying MERRY GRINCHMAS with the picture of the unjolly sprite himself ferociously frowning. We agree on most things but have different favorites when it comes to Christmas legends. Ahh antiques. I kind of swore off them the year the kids were at the rambunctious stage and we owned a St. Bernard. While fooling around in the living room they crashed into a family heirloom—a glass Tiffany lamp shade made by the master himself. But this year we’re back in the business. Though our house is modern we lack counter space in the kitchen for two fanatic cooks. Luckily, we inherited this huge butcher block, obviously used by a butcher of old according to all the hack marks on top, and with the aid of our neighbor’s front end loader form the farm, plopped it in the middle of the kitchen. Problem solved. And this genuine antique piece will be the star of our Holiday cooking endeavors. Talk about upgrading the kitchen at rock bottom cost.


Wow how tragic to loose a Tiffany shade!!!!! But what great luck to inherit the perfect piece for the kitchen! I love the holidays as I can bring out my grandmothers dishes. She collected tons of old transfer ware. I have a set that is brown and white that I use for turkey day. The red and white set I get out for Christmas, looks stunning on her favorite lace table cloth. Now that’s recycling! Just goes to show that having pack rats as relatives really pays off. : ) Well, I’m off to go scavenging for more deals. I saw a special on cranberries so I’ll stock up for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. They freeze really well. I’m also hoping to snag a turkey a bit cheaper this year with the help of a local store coupon. You can bet I’m going to take this one out of my purse!


You have my seal of approval for a happy holiday without going too deep into your purse! Antiques do serve a purpose. They are kept forever doing what they were made to do years ago. And are most appreciated around the holidays. Counter acting against the tense vibes cause by the falling stock market and worrisome economy, is the low cost of gas. That means we won’t have to get out the sled to travel to Grandmother’s house this year. We can well afford the low cost of gas although we might have to make the trip in an old car. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and have a very merry holiday season!!!


Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

I love the idea of saving money during the holidays, even if it's just so there'll be more to spend later! But even more than money, what I want to save is TIME -- there's just never enough of it.

Wouldn't it be great if there were savings & loans where you could deposit all the boring times you don't need, and later withdraw extra time when you do need it?

Laurie, wishing you a wonderful holiday!

Fran said...

It seems like the "economy" is on everyone's mind. We just got back from a weekend in Vegas for a wedding and all we heard was how "slow" business was because of the economy...however, it seemed to me that the casinos and restaurants were just packed...can't imagine what its like when busy! Anyway, thanks to Karen and Pet for some money saving tips so we can relax and enjoy the holidays.

Gayle said...

Yes, have got huge discounts on home d├ęcor items through

Wendy Nealis said...

Well, being a huge yardsailing fanatic,I cant begin to tell you the unbeleable deals I have gotten, , a diamond tennis braclett for a buck!!! The lady died and in the familys haste to unload her beautiful things,sold many items they should have checked into. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this.Last summer I bought a pair of reading glasses for a 1$.When I got home I realized these were more than just magnifing glasses These were real. The frames alone had cost at least 200.00 It was huge yardsale with lots of people involved, Im possitive someone in haste sold her freinds eye glasses by mistake. I did try to find the yardsale and take them back but went to so many that Sat couldnt remember where it was. To all I wish you a Blessed Christmas and a safe, healthy money saving New Year.

Anonymous said...

I heard on the radio this morning about a British town that held a Frock Swap. Anyone who wanted to bring in up to five "gently used" garments received credit vouchers for each, and on Swap Day they could use their vouchers to buy other garments. Great way of getting new clothes for nothing!