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Recycle your newspaper into festive holiday wrapping.

Festive and frugal this holiday season

With gifts, meals, activities and travelling, the holiday season can get pricey. Whether your budget is a tad tighter this year thanks to a slow economy or you're just always hungry for a good deal, there are tons of ways to save on wrapping, cards, gifts and cooking.

Take these money saving tips to save a few bucks during the holiday and you'll be pleasantly surprised when you have a few more dollars to spend in the New Year.

1. Cooking for a large family can be a beast. Think back just one month ago, when you were slaving away in the kitchen for the Thanksgiving holiday. Now, you're back at the grocery store with a long list of ingredients to pick up for your holiday meal. Instead of taking on the task yourself, opt to throw a pot-luck style holiday. Offer to make the main dish but then ask family and friends to bring an appetizer, side dish or dessert to pass.

2. Sure, there may be only a few days left before you're sitting by the tree exchanging gifts, but that's more than enough time to get crafty isn't it? Save tons of cash this season by making or baking gifts for family and friends. Look to Web sites like, and for suggestions and directions on making your own holiday baskets, gifts and baked goods.

3. The list of free holiday activities goes on and on. Bundle up for sledding or ice skating (free at Red Arrow Park) or snuggle indoors with a game night, ugly sweater party or a Christmas movie marathon.

4. The concept of wrapping gifts is a lovable one but the reality, not so financially or environmentally friendly. Instead of purchasing rolls of fresh paper and bags of bows, opt to re-use items around the house. Newspaper and magazines serve as interesting prints. You can even cut apart brown grocery bags or re-use received holiday paper from last year. Get really creative by using pine cones, greens or sticks from outside to adorn re-used wrap.

5. Some think it's tacky or taboo but re-gifting might just be one of the greatest money savers during the holiday season. Face it, you receive a gift you might never use, but you know someone who'd love it. Hand it over. If you don't have an item to re-gift, Milwaukee's home to a few great boutique-esque resale shops this year like Rethreads, Teecycle and Goodwill's Retique.

6. This tip is not just festive and frugal, it's perfect for anyone who's waited until the last minute this holiday season. Rather than buying holiday cards, writing each note, sealing them and sending them out, use e-cards online. Plenty of Web sites, like, and, offer this as a free service. You can send them out right on Christmas day!


Broner | Dec. 22, 2009 at 2:33 p.m. (report)

Thanks for the tips. I have to be frugal after spending all of my money at those bars you listed yesterday.

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