The Big Girl Chronicles: The Big Girl’s Guide to Holiday Planning On A Budget
The stress of the holiday season is that much more a source of angst for all the single parents that have to make it happen for their children. Add to that underemployment or unemployment with limited income and the challenge can seem impossible. Really, that’s not so. Single parents have developed an expertise at doing more with less. If you start planning early, you can have an abundant and meaningful holiday season with plenty to spare.
If you’re not in your state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program, you can still have an amazing holiday feast for a fraction of what you would normally pay. Research your local churches and community service organizations for economically friendly alternatives like the Angel Food Network that usually offers holiday grocery packages specific to the occasion for considerably less than what you would pay at the grocery store. Local food banks also provide complete holiday meal boxes to feed an average sized family sometimes free of charge or for a small donated canned good. Another resource is your local public service organizations such as your local fire department or police department that sometimes choose a family to sponsor around the holiday season.
Once you’ve gotten the menu taken care of the next area to tackle is the gift-giving. The key here is to plan early. Those black Friday deals are great if you have the cash, but even the cheapest of tech toys and goods can seem out of reach when the money is low. You can still do fabulous gifts that are economically manageable and more meaningful if you apply a little creativity. Get out your craft tote and get to work.
*Buy serving utensils that can be found at your local dollar store or general store for as little as a dollar each. Pick up some industrial strength adhesive, beads and wire and you’ve got all you need to make a beautifully ornate and unique serving set that will be the pride of dinner conversation and should only have cost you less than $2 per utensil to make.
* For an added touch, or another gift altogether, attach a simple compilation of your family’s favorite recipes fastened together with decorative ribbon and adorned with handmade stencil art.
*Another goldmine at your local dollar store are hand towels and kitchen towels that can be easily personalized and make great gifts.
*Still looking for neat gifts for neighbors or children? Save your wide-mouth jars that once contained peaches or pasta sauce. Rinse thoroughly and strip of all labels. Buy simple cocoa, chocolate and marshmallows. Layer these in the jars, attach a ribbon and add a cute personalized message for a simple thoughtful gift that will help take the chill out of those winter nights.
*Research other crafty ideas online that you would like to receive as a gift. Make sure that it’s doable on a small budget, get the entire family involved and make gifts that will not likely get tossed in the back of the closet.
*Local community agencies like the Salvation Army also sponsor families by supplying clothing and toys. Contact your local Goodwill or Salvation Army for details about all the information required and the process to get your family approved.
Finally you know what you’re going to eat and who’s going to get what. If you have older children, decorations probably aren’t going to be a big deal. But if you have little ones who are expecting all the magic of the holiday season, creating a holiday milieu might seem another financial burden…NOT. You can do wonders with construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, glitter, newspaper, spray paint, ribbon and string.
* Cut newspaper into three by three inch squares enough to line about two feet or more of yarn or string. Crinkle them up. Take two feet or more of string or yarn and line through the center of the newspaper squares. Tie the ends tightly. Spray paint whatever color of your choice and adorn with ribbon for a festive, one-of-a-kind wreath. Or leave the ends untied for a garland to line your window or hang from the ceiling.
*Cut shapes appropriate for the occasion using construction paper and decorate with glitter and yarn or string for unique ornaments.
*Use yarn or string to make festive shapes on the wall appropriate for the occasion. Take scraps from the construction paper cuttings and add them for a great alternative to pricey, traditional décor.
Whatever you do to make your holiday season happen, be sure to keep in mind the less fortunate that would have nothing if not for the generosity and kindness of people like you. If you can’t afford a monetary contribution, donate your time by volunteering at your local food pantry, church, community kitchen or homeless shelter. And remember the true value of the holiday season is having those you love close to share it with.