Making Merry Without a Lot of Money

Lawmakers are spending the last days of December trying to avert the fiscal cliff, while the rest of the country is spending wads of cash trying to prevent disappointed looks from loved ones on Christmas morning.

But, what if you don’t have a ton of money to spend making merry this holiday season?

With the economy still in the dumpster and little hope on the horizon, many people are struggling to be festive on a limited budget.  Fortunately, there are ways you can get into the spirit of the season without going broke:


Rather than forking over 20 or 30 bucks buying a new game for the family to play during holiday get togethers, consider making your own.  The Internet is teeming with seasonal facts that you can use to design homemade trivia games. Examples include:

  • According to the “Guinness Book of World Records,” the biggest snowflake on record fell in Montana in 1887. It measured 8 inches by 15 inches.
  • The record for the biggest snowfall in a 24-hour period in the United States took place in 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado when six feet, four inches of the white stuff suffocated the city.
  • In early England, the traditional Christmas dinner was a pig’s head prepared with mustard.
  • Seven out of ten dog owners say they buy their pups Christmas gifts.
  • In 1836, Alabama was the first U.S. state to recognize Christmas as a holiday.
  • In the Ukraine, finding a spider on the Christmas tree is considered to be good luck, so fake spider webs and spiders are common Christmas tree decorations in that country.
  • Christmas cards were introduced by Hallmark in 1915.


Ordinary paper bags can easily be transformed into festive gift packaging.  Rather than discard paper grocery bags, cut-out the store’s logo, and then decorate the remainder of the bag with holiday-themed rubber stamps, stickers, or simply draw on a seasonal deign with some paint or makers.  You can even make cheap stamps from potatoes.  Simply cut the spud in half, carve out a design with a knife, dip into ink or paint and stamp the paper.  When you’re done decorating the bag, slice through the seams to create one large piece.  Finally, use your homemade creation to wrap gifts for friends and loved ones.  Another inexpensive idea is to recycle colored tissue you get throughout the year from stores or when others give you gifts.  Just use an iron on low setting to remove any wrinkles in the tissue paper before using it to wrap holiday gifts.


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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.