Merry Christmas! I hope each and every one of you had as nice of a Christmas as our family did. It was very special.
Although “saving money” and “Merry Christmas” do not seem to go together, we were able to keep the spending under control during this holiday season, while still having a great holiday.
On Christmas Eve, we took Rob’s mom out to lunch. We took the gifts for his sisters for her to give to them on Christmas Day. So, no need to mail anything. We spent a while visiting with her, both at her house and at the restaurant. Now that we live a distance from her, it’s harder to get time with her. I’m glad it worked out for Saturday.
Then, we returned home (over an hour away now), and got ready for our small family Christmas Eve. We chose to go to church, then eat, do presents, then played Apples to Apples. (We always do our presents on Christmas Eve as a immediate family) Because we spend so much time with extended family (which is wonderful), it was important to me that the evening was made special for just our girls this time. I made individual raspberry cheesecakes that were a huge hit. I modified them to be gluten-free. Although I splurged for one carton of raspberries, I was able to use frozen ones from our old place for the rest of the sauce, making it very affordable as a Christmas treat. I did not choose to purchase mint, but it would have looked even better with mint on top. I will be growing a bush here, as I did at my old place, once I get organized in the spring. Ja’Ana whipped up some pickle/cream cheese/lunchmeat rolls and Lovana stirred up some spiced cider in the crock pot.
We cut down on gifts for the big girls, at their suggestion. We eliminated all little, easy-to-lose stuff and most candy from the stockings and instead gave them gift cards or cash, plus 1 or 2 small things they wanted. We put a tiny bit of candy and an orange in there, and they were fine. In the end, we spent less, and they can shop for bargains. J wanted money for our upcoming field trip to San Francisco, so that’s what she got. L wanted a Macy’s gift card to buy some clothes, so we did that. Because Patsy is younger and wasn’t quite on the same page, we gave her a few gifts we knew would please her. Rob and I gave each other some things we needed, such as a new lunch container for Rob’s days at school, an umbrella, etc. for him and he gave me some nice things I needed, too. We both feel really good about what everyone got, and that we stayed in budget.
We reduced the amount of gifts we gave. Some people that got one in the past did not get one this year. I was able to put together nice gifts for Rob’s co-workers with home-made caramel corn, soap and a dishcloth or dishtowel I crocheted or embroidered, for not much money out of pocket. One lady liked the caramel corn so much, she offered to pay Rob to make some for her to give away. He gave her the recipe:)
I did not buy Christmas and Thanksgiving outfits for the girls this year, for the first time in years. I sewed Patsy a festive skirt from some fabric that was in the shop, plus a $2 pattern. I did need to buy some thread as well. The biggest challenge with that was finding my sewing stuff–I’m still a bit mixed up here, but I found enough. Rob got Ja’Ana a sweater at Ross Dress for Less for $6 and she wore it on Christmas Eve with jeans she already had. My sister got them clothes for Christmas and they love them. They got money to go shopping with, as well. We are going to take them to an outlet mall this week so they can spend their money. I’m pretty sure it will be on clothes, but we’ll see….
For extended family, we were able to find some nice things, but did not go overboard there, either. On Christmas day, we went to church and then spent the day at my sister’s house, doing fondue and spending time together. 5 of our kids were there, plus cousins, aunties, uncles and grandmas. We missed the ones who couldn’t make it, but are already planning another get-together for next Sunday, where others will join who couldn’t yesterday. Everyone brought food, and we deep-fried, cheese-dipped, and chocolate-fountained to our hearts’ content. The weather was lovely, and mild, and the view of the river from my sister’s house was serene and peaceful. Everyone was happy, and there was peace on earth, in our house, at least for a day. There’s not much more I can ask for:)