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Christmas on a Budget

Six Ways to Spend Less This Holiday Season
child with gift

Between high gas prices and consumers' fears of a financial squeeze, it seems as if a nice Christmas is out of the picture this year. Not so, says Tawra Kellam, editor of www.LivingOnADime.com.

To prove it, here are 6 of her ideas to help make the holidays memorable without breaking the bank!

1. Go potluck.
You buy the turkey. Have everyone else bring the side dishes and drinks. "Turkeys in our area are $0.39 per pound this time of year," Kellam says. "If you buy just the turkey, it will only cost you about $5 to $10 to feed everyone for a large family gathering."

2. Celebrate Christmas the week after Christmas.
Take advantage of the after-Christmas sales and plan your large extended family gathering for the week after Christmas. Besides being less expensive, it is unlikely to interfere with anyone else's Christmas plans.

3. Don't give gifts or give inexpensive gifts to hairstylists, babysitters, teachers and others.
"I found several wonderful small scented jar candles on clearance for $0.25 each," Kellam says. "I will put three of them in a small basket (purchased at the thrift store for $0.25) with some tissue paper, ribbon and nice note. A great gift for $1.25!

4. Break up gift sets.
If you find an item that comes in a gift set at Christmas, give parts of it to different recipients. This is great for bath or perfume sets.

5. Yard sales and thrift stores equal great savings.
You can find a lot of new or nearly new items for pennies on the dollar. "For our son, we found a working telescope in the box," Kellam says. "It cost $1, so we saved $24! He got what he wanted and we didn't have to take out a home equity loan!"

6. Make memories, not more junk.
Most kids get more than plenty for Christmas from grandparents, aunts and uncles. If you can only afford one gift for your child, make it a memory! Wrap a note in a box with instructions for a treasure hunt. Send your child all over the house with clues and then have the real gift sitting under the tree when they return. Simple, but a great memory for them!

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