I love the holidays. Some people say that my love of them causes me to go way overboard. This is true. I do go overboard, and I love it. Having a mega family is always fun, but having a mega family during the holidays is just plain awesome. There are always tons of decorations, too much food, and way too many presents. My motto is, make memories because that’s what we carry with us throughout our lives. Because I enjoy going overboard during the holidays, I can’t wait until the holiday season to start shopping. I prepare all year round. Strategic shopping plays a major role in the festivities around our house.
We love lights, but I don’t like the price of lights! I scour the thrift stores for them. I am able to pick them up for pennies on the dollar. I, also, hit those clearance racks. I am able to get Christmas lights, and many other decorations, for ten cents a piece after Christmas!
My favorite decorations don’t come from the stores, though. I love homemade things, and this flows over into the type of decorations I enjoy. My children truly enjoy making Christmas decorations every year. Now, the adult children bring the grandchildren over to make Grandma’s decorations! What an awesome tradition! What awesome memories! The only problem is, many of our decorations are food. The problems lies in the fact that these decorations don’t stick around long! But, oh, what awesome memories we have developed from making these things every year.
Popcorn balls have become one of the top family decoration tradition. We trudge through the woods searching for the ‘perfect’ tree, (if you consider a tree missing half of its branches perfect), then haul it home. While Dad and the boys are busy cutting the tree down to make it fit in the house, (which eliminates even more branches), Mom and the girls start popping the corn and melting marshmallows for the popcorn balls. We butter up our hands, make our popcorn balls, wrap them up in Saran Wrap and ribbons, and hang them on the tree. Then we sing Christmas carols, and take the popcorn balls off the tree, and eat them up!
Of course, we make the traditional popcorn strings, and add in whole cranberries, too. The younger children find it easier to use mini marshmallows. We enjoy making sugar cookies with colorful frosting. We hang these on the tree too. Homemade play dough decorations are fun to make, and so easy and frugal too. My children love to have competitions when it comes to making good old-fashioned paper chains. We hang them around the perimeters of practically every room. Company is always impressed with the snowstorm in our living room every December. The children love to make paper snowflakes, and hang them from the entire ceiling.
Decorations don’t have to be expensive. If homemade decorations just aren’t for you, then hit those thrift shops, and clearance racks. Prepare for next year’s holiday decorations this year. Once the holidays are over, you will be able to pick up your store bought decorations extremely cheap.
Strategic Holiday Feasts
Learning to simplify hasn’t come easy to me. My mother only had three children, yet she cooked enough for an army. I say, she was training me to feed my army, unawares. I carried that extravagance into my adult life. Every meal was extreme, and holiday meals were even more so. Okay, so our holiday meals are still extreme, but the cost of it isn’t extreme anymore.
I remember when I used to spend a month’s worth of grocery allowance for just that one meal! I have learned to be strategic in my holiday grocery shopping. The strategy starts with a plan. Long before the holiday season hits, I sit down with my pen and notebook. I write down everything I want out of this season. This includes my meal plans. Because I know which foods I plan on making, I am able to watch the store sales over a period of a few months. Of course, I use my coupons to match up to the sales for ultimate savings, even free items. I start my ‘holiday box,’ and everyone knows the food in that box is off limits. I really enjoy watching my ‘holiday box’ grow, and my list diminish.
I love to give gifts! It truly is better to give than to receive. Many people assume that, due to our family’s size, we draw names when it comes to gift giving. Drawing names would make it so each child would only need to buy one gift each. We don’t do that. My husband and I love giving gifts to our children, but we want them to focus on giving, not getting. They are required to buy or make a gift for each of their siblings, their siblings’ spouses, their nieces and nephews, their grandparents, and their parents.
This takes a lot of focus. They spend many, many months thinking and planning out these gifts. Their focus is on giving. They aren’t only required to prepare to bless their immediate family, but they are required to prepare for our annual Christmas Eve trip to our local nursing home, where we hand out stuffed animals. They also look around to see which local neighbor could use a Christmas blessing. The list goes on and on. We see nothing wrong with going overboard in our giving to our children, when they are going overboard to give to others.
The holidays aren’t ever over; they are always coming. With that in mind, I prepare all year round. My strategic plan always has, at least, a general gift giving plan. There are certain things that I give every single year, so I am able to wait for the stores to offer them at rock-bottom prices. I know that I’ll be buying hats, mittens, sweatshirts, winter boots, housecoats, and slippers for everyone. My husband and I do major Christmas shopping in March. In March, our stores are clearing out the cold weather clothing for the season. This means rock-bottom prices! I am able to pick up slippers for one dollar or less. Winter boots only cost around $3.00. Hats and mittens are marked down to fifty cents. Plus, many thrift stores give away all of their winter clothing during the change of the seasons!
Having a strategic plan saves our family hundreds, and hundreds of dollars! Take a few moments to plan things out, lets me have the strategically overboard holidays that I love. Plan to actually enjoy the Christmas season this year. It begins with planning and shopping early. I have written a month-by-month guide that will help you to prepare for Christmas 2015 easily and painlessly.
Candy is a homeschooling veteran of 22 years. She is the mother of a mega family. Her oldest is 30 and her youngest is only 7, so homeschooling has become a lifetime career. As a homeschooling mother of a mega family, she has learned a lot about strategic shopping and frugality. She enjoys teaching others what she has learned. Learn more at CandyFoote.com