Caught in the Web
Dreaming of a Cheap Holiday


by Laura Emery, Field Editor


Gift-giving is usually synonymous with the holidays — especially Christmas.   

But this year might be a little different. The economy is in a slump and many people have lost their jobs. Many Americans will not be in a financial position to be as generous as they may have been in the past.

It might be time to make a few changes in your gift-giving practices. It is possible to show appreciation for family and friends without giving until it hurts.

So while Bing Crosby is dreaming of a white Christmas, you can be dreaming of a cheap holiday. Following is a compilation of Web sites that are filled with tips, tricks, and ideas on how to have a fantastically frugal holiday!

For many people, cooking a fancy meal for loved ones is extremely important. But what do you do when the budget gets tight? Serve ham and mashed potatoes? According to New York magazine’s holiday guide, it is very possible to put together an impressive meal on an unimpressive budget. New York calls it “the cheap party.” The menu, however, doesn’t sound cheap. It includes: spicy roasted pumpkin soup with whipped tofu, shrimp spring rolls, Chap Chae, braised tofu with ginger scallion sauce, Bo Ssäm, and fresh Asian pears and persimmons. How’s that for a glamorous holiday meal?

Check out this site for more than 63 gift ideas — for under $10. The list includes everything from handwritten copies of your favorite recipes to a pepper mill and fresh peppercorns.

Investigate this Web site for 39 tips on saving money during the holidays. One such frugal tip is to cut up old Christmas cards and use them as gift tags.

How do you have a cheap holiday without feeling guilty? breaks it down for you. Visit this site for useful and interesting tips on how to enjoy the holidays guilt-free and debt-free. One of the tips: “Go over your list and see if there aren’t some people you can take off your list. Maybe there are kids who are off to college this year, or friends you have not visited in a while. If you are on the fence, then send a friendly e-mail and see if they are open to not exchanging gifts this year. You may be surprised to find out that they will be in complete agreement with you and have been feeling that way, too, but didn’t know how to stop without seeming cheap or feeling guilty.”’s frugal-living section is filled with valuable information for having a budget-friendly holiday. It includes information on how to make your own gift boxes; homemade-gift ideas; Black Friday shopping tips; how to save energy during the holidays; how to save money on sending holiday cards; recipes that use leftover holiday foods; free and nearly free ornaments you can make; quick and free holiday centerpieces; free printable Christmas tags, and how to make your own holiday wreath. In the free and nearly free ornaments section, you’ll find ideas that include embellished glass balls, paper snowflakes, origami shapes, toys, and peppermint candy ornaments.

If you have to go cheap this year, this is the way to do it! This Web site has a list of brilliant ways to be frugal, while still honoring the spirit of the holiday with humor and cheer.

Here are five great, inexpensive gifts and corresponding notes to be lovingly attached. 1) Plate of homemade cookies — “Wishing you a wonderful holiday, from your ‘crummy’ neighbors!” 2) Loaf of bread: “For being there when you were ‘kneaded,’ for ‘rising’ to the occasion, large or small. For never ‘loafing’ on the job, for helping others ‘heel’ with TLC. No matter how you ‘slice’ it, you do a terrific job loving others — and we love you!” 3) Snickers Candy Bar — “Don’t ‘snicker’ — just be glad you got something!” 4) Jar of homemade jam — “Hoping your Christmas is jam-packed with cheer!” 5) Gourmet pasta with a bow and wooden pasta spoon — “Have a ‘pasta-tively’ happy holiday!” 6) Candle (in holiday color or scent) — “Best Wishes for a bright and beautiful Holiday Season!” 7) For the teacher in your life, try stuffing Hershey’s Hugs & Kisses in a coffee mug, bag, or box with the following note: “A teacher can’t live by apples alone. She/he needs ‘hugs’ too! Merry Christmas!” 8) Or, give a soup packet with gourmet crackers in mug or soup bowl with the following card: “Wishing you a ‘Souper’ Holiday Season! ”There are hundreds more of these ideas at this Web site. It’s definitely worth a look!  


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