Decorating for the Holidays When Short on Time & Money

Comments (20)

Lucky you if you live in the north (of the US). Lucky all of us that nature is plentiful in providing free supplies for decorating our homes for Thanksgiving no matter where we live.

Even in South Texas at this time of year I can wander outside and clip off some branches from my yellow-berried pyracantha (I planted some with yellow berries as well as red just for this occasion), and grab a handful of at least brown leaves.

If you live in the north and can garner pine cones, seed pods, pine branches and fallen leaves in all their glorious colors, use these as the basis for your color scheme.

I'm also lucky to have a garden full of chrysanthemums in bloom ready to be put around in vases in the house. Since they're perennials (down here), I can always count on having them come back this time of year.

Check your yard and garden for blooms in keeping with your color scheme (and next year, consider planting accordingly).

You also have an array of decorating materials available in the produce department of your grocery. All those squashes lend themselves beautifully to the fall color scheme. It's nature's way. Go for it!

Arrange some greenery branches across the mantle and place fruits and vegetables around and there you have it. We're celebrating the harvest, after all.

Now here's the trick. We have two major celebrations coming up: Thanksgiving and then Christmas. Here at my house I need to make a quick transition and I'm short on time, like everyone else. I'm having guests for Thanksgiving, but then my grandchildren will be coming here the Friday after. I'm giving a Christmas Cookie Baking Party for Kids on Friday, and will need to switch rapidly from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so I've planned my decorating accordingly.

I'll be using only greens, yellows, golds and whites for Thanksgiving. Then, for instance, I can remove the white, green and yellow gourds and squashes from the greenery on the mantle, add some white lights and gold stars, gold jingle bells, and gold ornaments and I'm set to go.

The white, yellow and gold candles and tealights for Thanksgiving can remain. See how easy it can be!

Cheap tip for a real glow? Buy a fair-sized mirror, place it on your dining room table, buffet or mantel and cover it with tea lights. Beautiful!

You could achieve this same easy transition keeping green and brown for basic background and using accents of burgundy and rust. This is a more subtle look for Christmas than the bright primary red, but it works just as well.

Also make some trips to your local Goodwill and Thrift Stores and visit some garage sales. People give away the most amazing holiday decorations that can be yours for pennies. I've found everything - hand towels, wreaths, pillows, stuffed animals, wall pictures, water globes and statuettes. Since they're used only for a short time, you hate to spend too much on them.

And here's a neat tip. My Goodwill store has a selection of lamp shades and I have the lamps, don't you? You can change out your lampshades to fit your decorating scheme. Did you ever think of that? It only takes a minute. Just make sure before you go that you know which kind of lampshades you have, and match them.

Oh and don't forget to check out the picture frames at the resale shop. You could move a favorite photo to a holiday frame and place that up on the mantel as well.

In fact if you don't already have some great holiday photos, take some this year. I have a great photo of my grand-daughter sitting with a pumpkin I move to a central location at Thanksgiving, and then a collage of my own children at former Christmases I bring out in December. I bought an ugly print at a garage sale that had a beautiful forest green frame, threw away the print and substituted with the collage. It's such a dear reminder.

And while you're decorating, don't forget yourself! Most thrift stores set up displays of holiday apparel you'll want to take advantage of for you and the kids.

Some planning ahead can help you save time and money and still allow for a festively decorated home for the holidays.

About the Author

Copyright Susan Dunn, MA, Personal Life & EQ Coach, . Offering coaching, Internet courses and ebooks for your personal and professional development. for free ezine. I train and certify EQ coaches. Email me for information on this fast, affordable, comprehensive, no-residency program.


Katherine 16.12.2011. 14:28

What can I bring to a holiday lunch party for work? I need an idea for something fairly cheap because I'm short on money. I would also prefer to buy something, not make it. I'm not really the best cook and on top of that I don't talk to the people I work with. I dont want to make something and have it come out bad and then have them talk about me behind my back. Any ideas?


Admin 16.12.2011. 14:28

Here's the best of both worlds (something you buy, yet put together yourself for a nice holiday display!)...
Get a rectangle shape cookie sheet....cover with foil to make it look nice.
Get broccoli florets and starting from short end of the pan, start making a triangle with them in the shape of a Christmas tree. Leave room at the bottom to add a straight row of Cauliflower florets to look like "snow". Pile them on top of each other.....go up the sides a bit.
Use pretzel rods broken in half for the tree trunk.
Decorate tree with small cherry tomatoes stuck in between the broccoli here & there.
Cut a star out of a piece of cheese for the top.
Serve dip on the side.

Voila! Holiday hit :D


mother to two baby girls 12.02.2009. 15:01

What should I get my husband for Valentine's day? He is 26 years old if that makes a difference. We have been together almost 9 years and married for 4 and it still seems like I can't think of anything to get him. I know that people say this holiday is for the women but I would not feel right if I did not get him some token of my affections however corny it may be. Any help would be great!
Ok I love all your answers but I think I left out one important detail. We both have 2 other valentine dates in the form of our 2 daughters who are 3 and 2. What gift can I give him that I can actually present in front of them lol!

mother to two baby girls

Admin 12.02.2009. 15:01

1. Plan and make your partner's favorite meal at home. Instead of waiting for a table at an overcrowded, less-than-intimate restaurant, set the table with your good china, and plan out a menu complete with an appetizer, first course, main dish and dessert. Don't forget to light some candles and put on some romantic music in the background.

2. Go for a scenic drive. If you have ?special spots? where important moments have happened in your relationship, go to each place and talk about the memories.

3. Write a love letter. How long has it been since you wrote a love letter to your special someone? Take the time to tell him or her the reasons you care in a handwritten letter that is sure to be treasured for all time.

4. Create a coupon book. Sure, it might seem a little cheesy to sit with construction paper and markers to make up a coupon book, but it's so much fun for the recipient to ?cash-in? on the coupons! You can make them for whatever you think he or she will enjoy, from routine daily chores to intimate moments ? just have fun with it!

5. If you and your partner live together (or you have access to their home!) consider taking a day off from work and sneaking in to clean up and decorate for the evening's festivities! Once everything is in it's place, give the furniture a quick dust, vacuum and wash floors, put some potpourri into boiling water to spread the scent, and set up for a picnic (on the bed or living room floor). When your partner comes home, surprise them with a basket full of snacks or dinner, and enjoy relaxed, quiet time together.

6. Make chocolate covered fruit.

7. Make a music CD of all your partner's favorite songs, or songs that have meant something to you as a couple. Remember making mixed-tapes as teenagers? Use your computer to put together a compilation CD.

8. Put together a video slide show of photographs and/or short video clips of you and your partner's relationship together. You can use Windows Movie Maker (free on most PCs) and add captions and fun effects to liven it up and add personality. Burn it to DVD and watch it together.

9. Forget the store bought cards! (Sorry Hallmark!) Get out some construction paper, scissors, stickers and crayons and markers and go to town making a pretty handmade card. It will mean far more than the store bought variety, and you might surprise yourself and enjoy doing it.

10. Take a moonlit walk. Much of the country is still quite cold in February, so be sure to bundle up and dress appropriately for the weather. There's something about strolling together under the stars in the moonlight that is extremely romantic and relaxing. Take a step back from the fast-paced world and reconnect through conversation.

11. Keep an eye on the newspaper, local events channel on your television, and/or the bulletin boards around town. If there are free events at museums or other establishments ? take advantage of them and enjoy one another's company doing something new.

12. If you and your partner typically stay home all the time, you can go out on the town for a change of scenery and not spend a ton of money. Go to a local coffee shop and enjoy a hot beverage of your choice and share a dessert. Don't rush through it like you would on a normal day ? linger at the table with your beverage and snack and talk about the past, the present and the future of your relationship.

13. Try your hand at writing a poem. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, you can put some thoughts down on paper (rhyming or not) in poem form, and give to your partner who is sure to love it.

14. Take a photograph of yourself (mild or wild, the choice is yours!!) and put it in a frame for your partner to place on their bedside table.

15. Do you have a rewards credit card? Find out if you have any rewards to redeem! You can use the points for dinner out or for a hotel room, depending on the rewards program. Many people have rewards credit cards and forget all about the rewards they've earned.

16. Draw your partner a bath (or perhaps make a bath for two?) Add great smelling bubbles, and put on some soft music. Even if you aren't sharing the tub together, stick around and chat, wash your partner's back, give a massage.

17. Sprinkle the floor from the front door to the bedroom with rose petals. Add some rose petals to the bed itself! If this is a little too bold for the stage your relationship is currently in, you can use rose petals to decorate the table cloth or float them in a dish with a floating candle.

18. Create a handmade scrapbook of your relationship. Add photographs, love notes from the past (or current, if you still write them!), add a love poem or new letter.

19. Surprise your electronic-gadget loving partner with a new folder of songs on their iPod or MP3 player. Make it songs they love or recognize from different events in your relationship.

20. Give a lengthy massage with no expectations for something in return.


tttttttttttt 24.04.2007. 23:08

Whats the best way to celebrate a sweet 16? I dont want to get a big party but i want to do something very fun, whats a good idea?


Admin 24.04.2007. 23:08

here a few ideas from some parties i've been invited to. How about a 70's party..Decorate in '70s-inspired earth tones colors such as orange, yellow, brown and definitely the ever-addictive split-pea-green. Hang beaded curtains to add a little extra color and flair. Also be sure to have plenty of incense burning to really create a '70s atmosphere something earthy like sandalwood or patchouli will make it feel authentic. for the disco era, set up a rotating mirror ball that instantly turns any party into a dance party. Luckily, tabletop mirror balls are easy to find, so you won?t have to worry about installing it into your ceiling. The best way to construct your ?70s costume is to ransack consignment stores
Here are come classic clothing and accessory ideas: Funky with an intellectual edge. Wire-rimmed glasses a la John Lennon, snug jeans, bright green Converse, and Farrah?s famed feathers. Orange and brown track jackets, pastel-inspired sneakers and zippers galore Bowling shirts and white, cotton snug-fitting pants ? think John Travolta.Go Richard Nixon-style. Bushy eyebrows, Perfectly paired with a light brown leisure suit.Teensy mini-skirts with platform shoes and short shorts with white athletic knee-highs. Low-lying pigtails or the bizarre, albeit appealing to the masses, side ponytail pays tribute to Suzanne Somers? Chrissy in Three?s Company. for activies, the pet rock was big in the 70's, so have guests create their own pet rocks. This fun activity requires a few colors of tempra paint, some paintbrushes and clean, smooth river rocks. Your guests can also decorate their rocks with familiar '70s icons like smiley faces, colorful flowers and ladybugs. The '70s was synonymous with disco dancing. Section off an area that guests can use as a dance floor. Make sure to play disco-era artists like ABBA, Donna Summer and The Village People. Add some colorful flashing lights and a fog machine to give your dance floor a Studio 54 flavor. For added inspiration, set up a TV in the background and cue up some of the famous dancing scenes in movies like Saturday Night Fever and Fame.
Mardi gras...beads, elaborate masks. Make your house vibrant with the traditional Mardi Gras colors... purple, green and gold
For Mardi Gras style, you need masks, streamers, confetti and doubloons. Balloons and beads are easy to come by and decidedly appropriate for this holiday. for an activiy set up a mask-making station so unadorned guests can make their own. Provide plenty of supplies such as feathers, sequins and glitter, and have a prize for the person whose mask is voted the best. Crown the best-dressed male and female the king and queen of your party.
I was at a casino themed party, i think it was one of the best themes, here's what they did..lots of red and black, and especially green. Decorate your place with fake money, chips and cards. Turn the lights down low and string twinkly lights everywhere to create mood. Provide each of your guests with little buckets for their winnings. To keep people circulating, give everyone a score card that keeps tracks of how many games they've tried, this will insure that everyone's interacting. Cover tables with black felt and use a white paint marker to draw blackjack, craps, and baccarat lines, or buy premade game layouts. you might want some guests to be patrons, and others to work the tables. Provide your dealers with visors and arm garters, and make sure your gamblers are dressed to the nines, think of a tuxedo-wearing James Bond on the movie Casino Royale to get the right idea. guest should get dolled up and into character. i hope some of the ideas help. have a good time & happy birthday!


Rinn-1999 01.03.2013. 21:04

Are these good ideas for a craft fair? Got a booth at a craft fair 2 months from now. I work with anything I can get my hands on. Are these good things to make and sell?
1. Clay figurines
2. Poems and short stories written by me
3. Cloth dolls
4. Pretty photographs taken by me
6. Pins
7. Kits for making cloth dolls
8. Paper mâché doll house
9. Mini clay teapots
10. Holiday figurines

Ali, how much would I charge for each?


Admin 01.03.2013. 21:04

Without seeing the items you're actually going to put on display, it's impossible to give you an answer I feel comfortable with. Here are some hints and suggestions, from a marketing standpoint.

1. You have a variety of items in your list. From the marketing standpoint, you will be better off selecting one or two mediums or themes and perfecting your skills with them. If you have more than that, you'll have to find a way to tie them together in the customer's mind so they don't see your display as a hodgepodge of "stuff," or worse, as a rummage sale.

2. Critiques of individual ideas:

The clay figurines and clay teapots/tea sets could be a good seller, depending on the craftsmanship, finishing techniques, and market where you're selling. You might want to test-market a few of these, perhaps with friends, at church, at the salon where you get your hair done, or as a donation to a local charity's fundraiser (local charities are forever requesting donations for auction, sale, or door prize).

Poems and short stories are probably not a craft-fair item. However, if you have appropriate short poems, you may be able to sell framed, decorated calligraphy. For example, if you have written really good love poems, or poems appreciating family members, they may be marketed as "elegant greeting cards," for birthdays, mother's day/father's day, and so on. If they're really good, they may sell without the frame or mat. If you're good with making up poems on the spot or can create an alphabet of lines of poetry, perhaps framable poems based on names (with a line starting with each letter of the name).

Cloth dolls may sell well, again depending on craftsmanship, finishing, your market, and the theme of the dolls. Kits? Maybe, maybe not. I can see kits for specific dolls with a specific theme selling well. Let's say you're in a place that attracts tourists because of the history of the area--Williamsburg or Jamestown in Virginia, Edenton or New Bern in North Carolina, Savannah in Georgia, Charleston in South Carolina. If you develop a group of "authentic" cloth dolls with "authentic" patterns and fabrics for everything from the underwear out, you may be able to sell both the dolls (at a price reflecting the workmanship involved) and kits for those who want the dolls but don't want to spend the money for the exacting workmanship involved. Let's say you've developed a doll that appeals to girls ages 8-13. Kits aimed at the "express yourself" drive in pre-teen girls may be a winner for you. If you decide on this one, you're going to have to do a LOT of marketing research in your area and in dollmaking.

What kind of pins are you talking about? Do you mean brooches? Made from what materials? Decorated how? What kind of theme? Brooches cover a lot of territory, from whimsical to artistic to fine jewelry. You'll have to be more specific. And it will help to know your market before you start designing and making the product. Look around and see what people are wearing and check craft shows to see what people are showing. You may want to go for a niche market or you may want to sell what everyone else is selling, only better designed or better made.

A papier mache doll house is definitely in the whimsical realm. Do you intend to make completed, one-of-a-kind doll houses or are you thinking unfinished doll-house shells? Either could be a good seller if you have the right market for it. The one-of-a-kind gets into the "artist" realm and would attract collectors who love the art. The shells could attract that pre-teen crowd or a more adult target market.

What kind of holiday figurines are you contemplating? What basic materials? Who is your target market? This could encompass anything from bird feeders made from flowerpots painted to look like Easter eggs to inch-high polymer clay elves and angels intended to sit on the edge of lampshades.

Photographs might sell well. Or they might not. You'll have to think about why anyone would want to buy a particular photo--Is it inspiring? Does it remind people of a good time in their lives? Is it beautiful? Is it a souvenir of a trip?

3. What to charge. First, you have to recover your costs, which includes the cost of materials, the cost of transportation, the cost of the booth at the craft fair, and incidental costs such as wear and tear on your tools and equipment and food for you while you're at the craft fair. Then you deserve at least minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) for the hours you put into creating the products and the hours you put into manning your craft-fair booth. Next, you deserve payment for the intellectual effort of designing your products. Finally, you should make a profit (the difference between the selling price and the total cost of the product).


Natalie 11.12.2012. 18:27

Why don't extension cords catch on fire outside during the holidays? They get rained an snowed on why don't they brake or catch fire at the part to where they are connected to wether it be an out side outlet or end of wire, is it that they are water proof?


Admin 11.12.2012. 18:27

Hi Natalie. Good question, with so many people trying to decorate with lights and displays, but trying to be safe. First and foremost, your house electrical system has a nice safety margin, with breakers to prevent overloads and stop short circuits. So you can largely just have a good time decorating.

Stepping back a bit, lots of people worry about "outside" cords vs. "inside" cords. The difference is not in whether or not one is "waterproof", but rather how durable they are in normal use. Typical "outside" cords have a tough plastic covering that helps when they are being dragged about, like behind a weed whacker, hedge trimmer, electric edger, etc. For temporary decorating use, they basically just lie there, undisturbed. Leaving aside wire gauge concerns, as most lighting doesn't strain the ability of the cord to supply the necessary current, it gets down to waterproofing.

Whether using a common 100 foot 16 gauge orange "outside" cord (around $15), or a heavy 12 gauge "contractor" cord (around $70), any can be shorted out by water getting into a connection, where somethings plugged into the cord out there. In some climates, even that is moot, because it's so cold there's no liquid water, just snow. Most of us, however do get some rain, or melting snow. To keep the connections dry, use a clingy-stretchy sandwich wrap, like a couple of tight wraps of Saran Wrap. Way neater and easier to remove later than half a roll of electrical tape...

Meantime: Also note that outside receptacles with a weatherproof cover are only weatherproof when they are closed and not in use. If yours is exposed to rain, etc., spend a little money ($10-20) for an "in-use" clamshell receptacle cover, which will protect that receptacle.

Happy Holidays.


lovelycupcake 14.12.2009. 19:27

How do I raise $3,000 from now till christmas? I'm trying to raise $3,000 for a friend of mine who is having surgery on christmas day her family are having financial problems, and it is short notice. So far my group of friends and I have $438 in our raising...and we only have a week left...are there any good suggestions or advice or anyone willing to even donate would be greatly appreciated...and please no jokes like go prostitute or any stuff like that...because we're trying to save someone's life and making a family happy for the holiday season. Thankyou...~


Admin 14.12.2009. 19:27

You could try and sell unwanted items, whether its old fashion outdoor stand, or internet.
Set up a cake/cookie stand, every single day.
Make it Christmasy - because people would be more likely to buy it.
Make things that people will buy this time of year, e.g. pamper baskets. Doesn't have to cost you much, but you'd be getting more money out of it, than putting in. So well worth it. Just decorate it (and concentrate on the presentation of it) with bits of ribbons/charms/etc you already have.
Make other gifts, such as if you can jewelery, that people will be willing to buy for a gift for someone they know. Just again use beads/ribbons/etc - make it look great.

If each of you concentrate, and do this in different areas. E.g. you go set up in one area - and each of your friends/family a totally different place...then you should be able to pull enough money through. Try to think of it through a "business" prespective, to gain as much money as you can.
Good Luck =D and just stay determined, and you'll pull through!!


ministar 23.03.2012. 12:41

What is a good Irish short story? I have to write this feature article for school. We have to choose two short stories from the Irish culture with around 50 years difference in setting. We must pick one of the following two short stories: "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty set in the 1920s or "The Distant Past" by William Trevor set in the 1970s, and then find one other which helps show the change in Irish culture through short stories over time. Are there any great Irish short stories that can do this?


Admin 23.03.2012. 12:41

James Joyce wrote wonderful stories.
"The Dead"
"The story centres on Gabriel Conroy on the night of the Morkan sisters' annual dance and dinner in the first week of January 1904, perhaps the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). Typical of the stories in Dubliners, "The Dead" develops toward a moment of painful self-awareness; Joyce described this as an epiphany. The narrative generally concentrates on Gabriel's insecurities, his social awkwardness, and the defensive way he copes with his discomfort. The story culminates at the point when Gabriel discovers that, through years of marriage, there was much he never knew of his wife's past.
JOYCE HOUSE, the fictional Morkan sisters' home. 15 Usher's Island, Dublin.
Upon arriving at the party with his wife, Gabriel makes an unfunny joke about the maid's marriage prospects; and he fidgets, adjusts his clothing, and offers her money as a holiday present. Not long after that, he gets flustered again when his wife pokes fun at him over a conversation they had earlier, in which he had forced her to wear galoshes for the bad weather. With such episodes, Gabriel is depicted as particularly pathetic. Similarly, Gabriel is unsure about quoting a poem from the poet Robert Browning when he is giving his dinner address, as he is afraid to be seen as pretentious. But, at the same time, Gabriel considers himself above the others when he speculates that his audience would not understand the words he uses."
You can read this story online:

"A young woman of about nineteen years of age sits by her window, waiting to leave home. She muses on the aspects of her life that are driving her away, while "in her nostrils was the smell of dusty cretonne". Her mother has died as has her older brother Ernest. Her remaining brother, Harry is on the road "in the church decorating business". She fears that her father will beat her as he used to beat her brothers, and she has little loyalty for her sales job. She has fallen for a sailor named Frank who promises to take her with him to Buenos Aires (spelt Buenos Ayres). Before leaving to meet Frank, she hears an organ grinder outside, which reminds her of a melody that played on an organ on the day her mother died and the promise she made to her mother to look after the home. At the dock where she and Frank are ready to embark on a ship together, Eveline is deeply conflicted and makes the painful decision not to leave with him. Nonetheless, her face registers no emotion at all"

Read it here:


Bluemstu 10.04.2010. 18:07

Good times of the year to visit Disneyland ? Me and my mum are going to visit Disneyland next year. ( anahiem ) The last time we went was November 2003. Can anyone recomend a good time of year to go???


Admin 10.04.2010. 18:07

If you're trying to make the most of your visit, as well as save a little money, then the time to travel to Disneyland is the "off season". This is the time of year when the crowds are the smallest, wait times for attractions is the shortest, and the whole experience is enjoyable. So here are my suggestions for travel times.

April and May: The weather will be good with temperatures in the 60s - 70s. Be sure to avoid the dates around Easter break or spring break.

June: Plan to go early June before school lets out.

September: Plan your travel dates right after school begins, the weather will be great with warm temperatures. Crowds will be very small.

October: Visit early in the month, you'll have a chance to see the Halloween decorations, which is great fun, weather will be cooler. Crowds get larger around this time of year with the Holiday makeover.

November and December: This will be the time of year that Disneyland does the Christmas makeover. It is an absolutely beautiful time to visit Disneyland. The entire Park will be decorated in the "Holiday Spirit" and they even make it snow every night on Main Street USA.
To travel around Christmas it is recommended that you travel mid week to avoid the large crowds and the weather will be colder with rain possible, so be prepared.

All of the dates mentioned work best if you start your trip to Disneyland in the middle of the week. Be aware that during the off season the park hours are shortened, and there are times that the fireworks will be cancelled because of winds and bad weather, or only displayed on the weekends.
I and recommend that you include a Friday in your visit, this will improve your chances at see the Fireworks.

Hope this helps have a great trip.


Paige M 13.12.2008. 20:41

i need help for christmas i cant afford any thing this year ? I live in temecula CA. I cant afford christmas this year what should i do. If you know some one who can help me with my situation please leave a comment. thank you!

Paige M

Admin 13.12.2008. 20:41

A Do-It-Yourself Christmas: 34 Great Gifts You Can Make Yourself
Thursday, 13th November 2008 (by J.D.)
This article is about DIY, Frugality, Hints and Tips, Shopping

If you're new here, you may want to learn what this site is about. I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

Last month, I asked readers to share their favorite frugal Christmas ideas. You responded with over a hundred fantastic tips. One common theme for saving money and adding meaning during the holiday season was to make gifts yourself.

My wife and I are lucky to have many crafty friends. Every year, I?m delighted to see what they create for the holiday season. I drew on our own experience, pulled some of your best tips from the past, and scoured the web for new ideas, in order to produce the following mammoth list of do-it-yourself Christmas gifts. But remember: in order to complete many of these, you need to get started soon. Enjoy!

1. Almost everyone loves homemade truffles, says Mo. ?My husband and I made them last year, and they were a big hit. I had no idea how easy to make they were, and we covered them with different kinds of crushed nuts and such. It was really fun! We then went and bought blank little white boxes and I decorated them with just some wrapping paper (glued) and ribbon. I think all together, we made about 15 boxes of truffles (9 truffles each box) for under $30. And we used good chocolate to boot!? Upside? Yum! Downside? They should be made only a short time before giving, and eaten soon after. If you?ve never made truffles before, try this recipe from Alton Brown.

2. JM has a great suggestion, one that many of you may have already seen: ?[My mom] gives some people unbaked, made-from-scratch cookie kits. Basically she gets most of the dry ingredients to her favorite cookie recipes together, along with a mason jar, a note card, and some ?country? style ribbons. She then layers all the dry ingredients in the mason jar, screws on the lid and prints the recipe on the notecard in an old-fashiony looking font, and then ties it to the jar with the ribbon. The result is cool looking, because the ingredients are layered in the jar.?

3. Create a secret hollow book. Find a cheap musty old classic at your nearby Goodwill or used bookstore. Glue the pages together, use an X-Acto knife to hollow out the center of the book. Now the recipient can store his treasures!

4. Martha Stewart has a great idea: create a recipe booklet containing a collection of your favorite holiday recipes, and then include it with a small assortment of samples. ?Pass your culinary traditions on to your friends.?

5. Live in a cold climate? Give your friends the gift of warmth with a homemade hand warmer. If you know how to make a beanbag, you know how to make a hand warmer. Use wool or cashmere or felt material, but instead of filling the bags with beans, fill them with ceramic pie weights. To use these toasty treasures, simply microwave them for a couple of minutes and then slip them in your pockets.

6. It?s difficult to go wrong with themed gift baskets. Did you can your own pasta sauce over the summer? Use a colander for a basket, add some garlic bulbs, gourmet noodles, and a wooden spoon ? a little taste of Italy. Or consider a breakfast basket. Or a breakfast basket (syrup and pancake mix), a movie basket (popcorn, candy, and a movie rental coupon), or a gardening basket (a trowel, a gardening hat, and some packets of seeds).

7. If you?re artistic, GRS-reader Beck suggests giving memory drawings: ?Draw a very simple black-and-white picture of a memory that you have of you and the person (e.g. me and my dad playing NES back in the day). This could be a very simple (think Shel Silverstein) drawing. Frame it and gift. The great thing about this (besides being cheap) is that you can give it multiple times to the same person. They will have a growing collection of ?memory drawings? from you.? Beck reports this gift is very well received by family members.

8. Elizabeth has another artistic idea, one that was very popular with readers when she suggested it: ?I?m a graphic designer, so this year I?m creating a booklet that Photoshops my 6-year-old nephew onto cheap stock photos of world landmarks, such as the Great Wall, so it looks like he?s traveled the world.? This home-made travel brochure is perfect for adventurous young minds. (Come to think of it, I think one of those would be fun for me ? and I?m no longer young?)

9. Give the gift of experience. The Gift Weblog suggests, ?There?s nothing like giving someone the gift of experience, it is something they will always remember.? Sample gifts of experience: sky diving, scuba lessons, hot-air balloon rides, cooking school, lunch with a hero, etc.

10. What could be cuter than a stuffed pig? This project from Martha Stewart allows those who are handy with needlework to assemble an adorable, docile pet from felted woo


pinkcarebear 14.06.2007. 04:00

what is disney at christmas like? has anyone been to Disney WOrld in orlando around christmas? is it worth the trip for the decorations and has anyone heard of the "extra ticket" that has something to do with extra hours at Disney?
thanks for all the answers everyone. i think i've pretty much decided to do it around the first 2 weeks of december. i've been to MK before and arent going to be so focused on al the rides this time i'm mainly going to see the decorations and anything "holiday-ish". any advice on "must see's" while i'm there?


Admin 14.06.2007. 04:00

If you are trying to save money, then I would say that going during another time of the year would be just as nice. Since Christmas is holiday season (of course it would depend on when you are actually wanting to go) If you are able to spend a little extra, I think it is definitely worth seeing. If you go during the actual "holiday" season, which is at peak prices you will pay more, not be able to get a discount and have higher crowds. Otherwise, you may be able to get a discount, as well as lower rates and lower crowds. Again, depending on when you actually go, the crowds may be a little higher than other times of the year, so that is another thing to consider.

During Christmas they have really big, beautiful trees in all the resorts. Many years at Christmas when I didn't feel like going to the parks, I just went to all the resorts looking at all the trees and decorations. You get to explore the resort, see what they all have decorated, maybe eat at a restaurant, etc. So that is really nice. The deluxe resorts are my favorite during the holidays with the huge trees in the lobby. Boardwalk has had a gingerbread boardwalk, Yacht and Beach Club does the chocolate/gingerbread carousel and Grand Floridian does the giant gingerbread house. Really amazing to see all they do.

Every where you go you are going to find little surprises, Magic Kingdom has the Christmas Parade, EPCOT has the Candlelight Processional and Christmas around the World, MGM has the Osborne Festival of Lights and Animal Kingdom decorates in an African theme. So there really is a lot to see, this is just the tip of the iceburg. You aren't going to find many places that can decorate better than Disney at Christmas time.

There are a lot of special events that go on in Disney during Christmas. You can go many years before you see most of what they have to offer, so don't worry about not having enough to do.

Now, as for the ticket.... Onsite guests do have the benefit of extra magic hours which gives you a little more time in the park. However, what I think you are talking about is Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Basically you pay for a seperate ticket into Magic Kingdom for that day. If you choose, you don't have to go earlier in the day to avoid paying for admission twice. You get to go into the park in the evening and they allow a limited number of guests in to enjoy all the activities and rides that are opened. They have special events and with fewer people you have shorter wait times. It is a lot of fun and the kids (as well as the adults) always have a great time.

I've been to Disney for Christmas the past several years and love it every time, it is a great place to spend the holiday. I agree with the other answer that the weather is great as well. It stays pretty warm in the day, but at night and in the mornings, it can be a little chilly, so a jacket isn't a bad idea, especially if you will be around the water. If you are wanting to swim and can't handle colder weather, you may want to consider going another time.

I've included a link to a website with lots of info on Disney at Christmas time. It covers pretty much everything they have going on, all the links run down the side.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions!

Hope this helps!


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