Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thrifty holiday days
For many families, money is tight this holiday season. There might be fewer gifts, but that doesn’t mean that the holiday spirit still can’t burn bright.
I asked my friends to share memories of times past when money had not been in abundance. For many, it was when they were newly married or when they had young children. For others, it’s now while being a college student and having to watch pennies.
In all cases, however, these friends fondly remember the times when they had to make do with what they had. Having to be creative and resourceful left them with happy, nostalgic memories of a time when the focus was on more than just store bought gifts. Enjoy these memories.
Favorite cereal as a treat
I stumbled on this idea several years ago when strapped for cash, but looking for “bulk” under the tree, and now it’s become a family tradition: I buy everyone’s favorite cereal (and I actually spring for name brand!) and wrap it. Presto: For about $10-$15, I have four large wrapped gifts to add to the thrill of Christmas. And sometimes more when I know family members or friends will be joining us for the holidays.
– DANA MYSKOWSKI, Concord
Decorating and caroling
Well, as a college student, I’m strapped for cash. But I still get the holiday joy by decorating with the dollar store’s supplies. And I take up any activities that the college offers. For example, this Saturday, I’m going to spread Christmas joy by caroling with the Sisters of Rivier.
– SPENCER NOZELL, Merrimack
The kindness of others
I had my first son when I was 18, and for his second Christmas, we were on a list for gifts from the YMCA. He got clothes and toys. I also bought all his other presents at a consignment store. It was a wonderful Christmas where I was so thankful for the generosity of strangers.
– LAURA PLOSS, Merrimack
As a young 18-year-old newlywed, I made salt dough ornaments and paper chains for the tree. In later years, the children and I hung gingersnap cookies on a tree so unwanted, the Boy Scouts couldn’t sell it, so it was free. We called it our Christmas bush because it was completely round. Now Bob and I are two of the 200 people who spend $5 for a permit to cut a small balsam tree from the White Mountain National Forest (and no, no one is allowed to know our secret spot!). I am still making handmade ornaments, and that is usually my Christmas present to friends.
– HOPE MANSEAU, Canterbury Station
Yard sale fun
Every year in my extended family, one of us is always strapped for cash, so instead of buying for everyone, we made a list of all of the adults, and we rotate every year who we will buy for. The fun part is the guys only buy for the guys and the women only buy for the women. The men usually go for the tools or books, and they are thrilled with the opportunity to buy for another guy.
One year, we planned early, and the theme was “yard sale.” The item you bought has to be from a yard sale. The one constant rule was that you couldn’t spend more than $10.
People get so creative when they have to work under guidelines. It was so successful that we all voted to do it again and again. This has been a tradition for close to 20 years now.
– DEE AVERY, Merrimack