Wednesday, October 22, 2008

31 Things to do before Christmas – Decorating on a tight budget

(This is #13 of 31 in the 31 Things to do series)

Christmas decorating on a tight budget

Decorating to me is one of the most fun parts about Christmas. And the good news is that you have a lot of control over how much or how little you will spend in this area. Nobody's going to have to eat your decorations and you won't be giving them to anyone as a gift. So don't stress about it. Christmas is one of the few times when you can get away with looking gaudy, as long as it's festive who cares if it's the latest style?

Use what you have

Remember when icicle lights first became popular? Just about everybody and their brother ran out and bought a full set, even if they had plenty of lights already, just in an older style. But like everything else, there are trends in Christmas lights too. Since then, there have been swag lights, rope lights, LED lights and probably some others I don't know about. Imagine trying to keep up with all that? It makes no sense when you have lights you can use.

Christmas trees to fit the budget

For the past several years I have used the same artificial Christmas tree and the same ornaments over and over again. And guess what, it doesn't get old. Part of the reason is because I don't put the tree up until early December so I'm not looking at it long enough to get tired of it anyways.

I bought my tree one year at an after-Christmas sale for half price, about 5 years ago, and have been using it ever since. But there are even trends in Christmas trees. Now you can find trees with lights already included and rotating trees. But that's okay, my old tree still works for me.

Now I know some of you out there can't stand the thought of a fake Christmas tree, but hey if money is tight and you already have a fake tree, it's better than nothing. You can get a can of pine scented air freshener to fake it until you make it.

Go easy on the lights

Another place you can cut back on your Christmas decorations is in Christmas lights. If you are on a tight budget, the last thing you need is 100 strings of lights around your house. Can you say "light bill"? January IS coming, and you will be even deeper in the hole if you end up with a ridiculous light bill to pay because you were bling-blinging your house for Christmas. Just put a couple strings on your tree, put a wreath on your door with a door wrap, and that's good enough. Besides, when you are indoors, you don't get to see your outdoor lights anyway... it's for someone else to enjoy.

Sometimes less is more

You know, more is not always better. I have a neighbor who, I tell you the truth, every year it seems like she adds more and more stuff to her collection. And yes, it looks nice, right now. But I can tell that if she keeps it up at this pace, stuff will start to get lost in the shuffle and you won't be able to appreciate all of the individual items like you would if there were only a few. Since I like simplicity and do not like clutter, I tend to take the less is more approach. And you know, you can save a lot of money this way too. And time. And storage space. And on and on.

Peer Pressure

As adults it's hard for us to admit that we are subjected to peer pressure too. We might not be as vulnerable to it (hopefully) as kids but it still exists. I can remember one Christmas when every one on my street was either really in the Christmas spirit, or every one except us got fat bonuses or something. Every house was decorated with outdoor lights about 2 weeks before Christmas, every house except a few, including ours. Do you know how much pressure that was on us to hurry up and get lights put up? No one said anything verbally, but it was an unspoken code, that we as a neighborhood are doing this and you don't want to be the last one to get on board, or worse yet, not put up any lights at all.

So you know what we did? We put lights out, but only because we had some on hand, and we wanted to do it anyways for the sake of our small kids. But what I'm saying here is that a lot of the stuff we do, we do it because of external pressure. Pressure coming from parties who will not be participating in paying our bills. So do what you want to do and what you can afford to do, because you will be the one footing the bill for it.

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