2008 Making the Holidays Special on a Budget

December 2008:

Tara Aronson

The holidays are a special time of year and now more than ever it can also be a frustrating time financially with the economy weighing heavy on everyone’s mind. But there’s no need to cancel Christmas or your holiday spirit because you can still make the holiday season special — even on a shoestring.  Lifestyle Expert, Tara Aronson, has some secrets to making the holidays memorable even when money is tight.

Throw a Party for Under $25:
Sound too good to be true?  Not if you get back to old-fashioned ideas, you can definitely pull together a party for around $25 if you get creative.  Just work as a team with your family and friends and have a pitch-in or potluck themed party where everyone brings a dish.  Your guests supply great hors d’oeuvres, casseroles or holiday cookies. You provide the party space and drinks.  Since a lot of friends may be in the in the same space financially, everyone will love getting into the holiday spirit and saving money at the same time.  Make sure you keep it simple and just stick with traditional crowd pleasers like a Merlot and Chardonnay that pair well with holiday appetizers and cheeses.  Carlo Rossi offers these varietals at price points to fit most any budget In their large 1.5 liter format, there is plenty of wine for all your guests to enjoy and you can easily keep any leftover wine for future occasions. Carlo Rossi also makes a ready-to-drink Sangria that, when added to a few other ingredients and heated, makes a festive treat to sip and makes the house smell great.  Here’s their famous Hot Mulled Wine recipe for the holidays:

Hot Mulled Wine Recipe: 4 cups Carlo Rossi Sangria, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (or apple juice, if desired), 3-4 dashes ground cinnamon, 1 orange, sliced into wheels.

Directions
:
Heat over low heat until sugar has dissolved.  (Can keep warm over LOW heat in a crock pot, if desired).  When ready to serve, ladle into coffee mugs and garnish with cinnamon stick and additional orange wheel.  Makes 4 + servings. NOTE: For large parties, keep adding more Carlo Rossi Sangria and sugar & water (to taste) to last the entire night.  For a complete wine list of Carlo Rossi varietals go to http://carlorossi.com.

Old Fashioned Decorating Tips:
Keep decorations simple and don’t go overboard. If you have decorations from last year, don’t feel like you need new ones.  The Old-Fashioned Christmas with popcorn and paper chain garlands involving the kids keeps it special and inexpensive.  Your guests will love being taken back to their childhood when they see these cool decorations.

Quick Tips for Holiday Cleaning Before the Party:
When it comes to cleaning for guests, I have some quick tips.  If you have kids, get them involved with easy tasks. Since there are really only two rooms that need to be guest-ready – the bathroom and the living room – have one child clean any clutter in the living the other can wipe down the sink, basin and mirror with disposable wipes in the bathroom to help make both rooms ready for company.

Also, If you have pets, here’s a new tip that I just discovered that really helps reduce pet hair everywhere.  You know, brushing your pet’s coat regularly is a good start to keeping shedding under control but it is more effective to have the right tool like Bamboo’s FurBuster Professional De-Shedding Tool.  It grabs and removes the loose hair and undercoat which means less hair on the carpet, couches and your clothes.  It’s also a great gift idea for friends and families with shedding pets of all sizes available nationwide for about $25.  For more great gift ideas for your pets, go to http://bamboopet.com/

Ways to Save on Gifts:
Here are some great gift ideas that don’t cost a dime and that will really make Christmas Special. I like it because you can also involve the kids in giving when they don’t have money to spend.  At Tara’s house, they give gift “Coupons” that are all about giving our time to one another.  Family photos are also great gifts for friends and family.  Place them in a nice frame and you can pick them up for $5 to $25. Finally, parents shouldn’t stress about the gifts for kids this holiday season.  Less really is more so focus on getting one really nice gift for each child (and set a budget limit).  And just so your kids don’t feel like they’re getting less, wrap lots of little inexpensive gift items (and include things they many need) so that way there’s lots of presents to open during the holidays.

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