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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Sonntag, 8. Dezember 2013

21 Ways to Make the Holidays Special AND Tee Shirt Scarf Craft

(without breaking the bank)

If your family is anything like mine, money's tight and belongings are plentiful. Basically, there's no real need of presents, and there's no real money to spend on them, anyway. We're saving for trips to Rome and Paris and London, plus a transcontinental move coming next summer. And our car's acting up lately, so that'll need repairs soon.

It often feels like my social circle goes way overboard for Christmas, while our family keeps scaling back. I even talked to my kids about considering second-hand gifts (we're major thrift shop fans) and my oldest was into it! I said "not this year" to that idea, although I wouldn't look past a great second-hand gift ever. I'd like to evolve our tradition, as the kids become adults, into making it a mission to make hand-made or buy second-hand presents as a family. 

Anyway... As for this year...

Our kids have just about everything they want, and everything they need. Piles of presents aren't what they want or need. I gave them instructions to create wish lists with these categories:


They'll each get one present from each category this year.

Gone are the days of filling the living room with presents. I can't believe I used to be one of those parents! It feels so wasteful and greedy to do that. Now, we buy just a few presents, and focus instead on building memories and spending quality time together. Here are 21 ways to make holiday memories without emptying your retirement fund:

Let the kids help choose decoration placement. Your mantle might not be worthy of a spot in Southern Living, but your kids will feel proud to have been a part of the decorating committee.

  1. Decorate the house together. You don't have to go wild. Kids just want to connect with their parents. Sit down and cut out snowflakes from coffee filters. String popcorn. Take out the decorations and let the kids have a say in their placement.
    our back windows last Christmas. 
  2. Start a new tradition. Some of mine to get your creative juices flowing: We have pizza every Christmas Eve. We drive around to see lights right before bedtime. Sleepovers under the Christmas tree. Open a present on Christmas Eve. 
  3. Go ice skating. Some of us are lucky enough (or not, depending on your point of view) to have frozen ponds to skate on. Others can experience a bit of winter going to an indoor skating rink. 
  4. Make really good hot chocolate. Not the stuff in the packets. No, the real stuff. Here's a recipe to get you started. 
  5. Bring out the fine China for Christmas dinner, even if it's just your tiny family, even if no one will see but you. You're worth it. Let the kids see you treat yourself as good as you treat company. :)
  6. Use an advent/countown to Christmas calendar. I bought one this year that is little burlap sacks numbered 1 through 24. I'll put two identical treats in each. Some sweet. Lip gloss. Small gifts for the kids to have once per day. It gives them a little thrill every morning to open their little package. You can buy ready-filled ones at most retail stores with little chocolates inside. 

  7. Check out free holiday events in your community. Town hall tree lightings, free light displays, concerts, theater the paper for ideas. "Like" your local town government, parks and recreation department, universities, and chamber of commerce on Facebook and such event ideas will pop up in your news feed. 

  8. Have a Christmas movie marathon. Pop some corn and gather round the boob tube for some great holiday fun. Pick your favorites. Try a new one. Netflix and the library are great for this. 
  9. Let the kids help out in the kitchen. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of talking to Grammy while she finished cooking Thanksgiving dinner. She didn't shoo me out from underfoot. She talked me through the process. Let the kids help. Put them to work: real work, not a meaninless "busy work" task they'll see right through. Kids can do anything when properly equipped. Let them whip that meringue. Teach them how. You're not just teaching a skill. You're forming a memory they'll call upon decades from now when they're creating their own family memories. 
  10. Give of yourself. A few years ago, I baked (for days, I baked) hundreds and hundreds of cookies of a dozen varieties. My kids and I bagged them all and delivered them to a local soup kitchen. We got to hand them out to the patrons, and seeing the looks on some of their faces was priceless. It was way more of a gift to us than we could have given to them. Just a bit of home, of normalcy, in a hard time. It was touching. And involving the kids made it a life lesson, too. 
  11. Christmas karaoke. Get up and sing and dance. You can't beat a good Christmas song. My favorite? Feliz Navidad. Somewhere out there is a video of me dancing with my dog to that song with all my heart. I had a blast. But I do wish I could get rid of that video. ;)
  12. Make homemade gifts. Think about what the receiver might enjoy, and tailor-make a gift just for them. 
  13. Ask the kids: What do we do that makes the holidays feel special for you? I asked my kids and they both said family time. That's a great answer. Just slow down and be together. 
  14. Bake some cookies. Everyone gets to decorate them. 
    Give everyone a plate of cookies to decorate however they like. Giggles and conversation are natural consequences. 

  15. Read Christmas stories at bedtime. Underneat the tree with the lights on for bonus points. A few years ago, we went weekly to the library and checked out seven books per week: one new Christmas story for each day. We read a lot of Christmas stories from all sorts of cultures that year. 
  16. Go sledding. No snow? Check out ice blocking
  17. Make ornaments for your tree. We've done the applesauce-cinnamon cut-outs (WEAR GLOVES -- CINNAMON BURNS SKIN!!), the paint inside the clear ball ornaments, the snowman light bulb ornaments, and many others. It's a tradition we keep, adding something new each year. 
  18. Host a party. Make it a pot luck and let the kids invite friends, too. 
  19. Try celebrating Christmas the way another culture or country does. Maybe do one country a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas. 
  20. Bundle up and walk around your neighborhood looking at everyone's holiday light displays. Night walks are peaceful and fun, and the lights make it all the better. 
  21. Leave your neighbors little holiday surprises on ther doorstep. 
How do you make special holiday memories with your family without emptying your retirement account? 

Today's Pinterest craft has been pinned on my "Make Stuff" board for years. Years! I can't believe I waited so long. It's super simple to make, and totally gift-worthy. I give to you: Tee Shirt Scarf. 

Tee Shirt Scarf/Necklace (link)

This scarf looks great as an infinity scarf and doubles as a long "rope" necklace. Simple to make and best price of all, free!

total time spent: 5 minutes
total cost to me: NOTHING
craftiness level: beginner

One tip: Don't worry about the seams. They may not all line up properly once you stretch your strips. It doesn't take away from the scarf at all. 

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