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5 cheap ways to get into the holiday spirit

Posted Dec 10 2008 12:00am

Feeling the pinch in your purse? Don’t let that interfere with immersing yourself in the holiday spirit.

I know it’s hard, but remember this: The kids won’t remember the gifts a decade from now. However, they’ll remember family celebrations and traditions.

Really. Think about your warmest memories. Are they of specific presents – or of the surrounding cheer and activities?

See?

Now, with that in mind, here are 5 cheap ways to bust the economic blues and get into the spirit:

1. Cruise for lights

What announces winter festivities better than colorful, sparkling lights? Read your local paper, find best bets, grab the kids, and jump in the car and go. Really – with almost decent gas prices – how can you resist?

While you’re at it, take the camera with you. This would be a great opportunity to snap some shots of the kids being festive. And hey, you can take it to the next level by having them printed and giving them as a gift to the grandparents. They’ll love it and your wallet will thank you.

2. Turn on holiday tunes

Yes, turn them on. Whether it’s radio, a cable TV music channel or Internet station: There’s a holiday music channel for you. So don’t cringe!

Really, if singing along to “Little Drummer Boy” isn’t your gig, there are many modern, popular artists to listen to. Also, don’t be afraid to share your glorious voice and a few dance moves with the kids. They’ll get a kick out of it.

3. Read a book

Dig through your collection, chances are you already have a “The Night Before Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” or “Oh Chanukah” book already. If not visit your local library, hope your overdue fines aren’t large and check some out.

Read them out loud to the kids nightly. Not only will you be making great memories, the kids will benefit from it educationally as well.

4. Get crafty

This could be something as simple as pulling out crayons and paper. Or it can get more complicated with glitter glue, pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks. Check online for great child-friendly crafts that use items you already have around the house.

That or bust out the flour, sugar and butter and get baking! It’ll warm up your home and fill it with a yummy scent. Sugar cookies are great for helpers of all ages. They can help mix the dough, use the cookie cutters or slather on the colored icing.

5. Share memories of holidays past

We all have those memories that make us smile or chuckle (even if they made us cringe at the time). Grab a cup of cocoa or hot apple cider, some sugar cookies and sit around the table and share.

Talk about the traditions when you were a kid, the people who attended your celebrations and favorite festive foods. Describe the decorations, the most memorable events and then ask your kids what they enjoy the most.

Even more fun, invite other family members or friends to the discussion as well. Later on, take a moment to jot down — or blog – some of the highlights.

One of my favorite holiday memories comes with a ladle. You know, the big scooper spoon for soup? I was perusing the shopping aisle at a discount store with my oldest son Jay – who was 6 at the time. Typically he was very quiet, introverted and hovered close. He found this ladle in a pile of other kitchen utensils, picked it up and belted out, while pirouetting down the aisle, “Ladle, ladle, ladle. Ladle made of clay.”

That piece of joy cost me 3 dollars. Today it serves as reminder; the holiday spirit is in the simple things. It’s in life, not dollars.

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