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Category: Family, Fun & Holidays

Celebrating a Frugal Valentine’s Day

top photo of graphic provided by Paper-Pixie

Valentine’s Day is Saturday and many of you have requested I share some ideas for celebrating this holiday without spending a lot of money. I briefly considered writing an article, but I have to tell you that we’re pretty plain Jane folks when it comes to Valentine’s Day. In fact, we don’t usually do much outside of a nice meal at home or maybe decorating some Valentine’s cookies.

However, even if I’m not bursting with creative inspiration when it comes to February 14th, the frugal blogosphere certainly is. In fact, there are more great ideas floating around out there then you could probably do in a lifetime of Valentine’s days.

Here are just a few great links I found:

Sarah at Fiddledeedee has some unique ideas and yummy recipes posted including one for chocolate fondue.

Centsable Momma walks you through making homemade chocolates.

Amy at The Finer Things in Life encourages you to celebrate big without spending big.

Thrifty Mommy gives you ten ideas of ways to save money this Valentine’s Day.

Claire from Choyster Cash suggests an inexpensive date idea and Mercedes shares tips for having a fancy dinner on a budget.

Probably my most favorite idea of all came from The Happy Housewife. She and her husband celebrate with a Valentine’s Day challenge:

First decide to
celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 19, 20, 21, or whenever, just as
long as it is after the 14th. Then decide on a set amount of
money, for example $10. Now for the challenge part, see how much candy,
or trinkets, cards, and other treats you can get for $10 or less. Most
stores have everything marked down at least 50% on February 15 and the
prices keep dropping as the days go on. Then on your Valentine’s Day,
you and your spouse can trade gifts and admire each other’s frugality.

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Do you have some great ideas, recipes, tips, or inspiration for those of us seeking to celebrate a frugal Valentine’s Day?
If so, post about them on your blog and leave your link below. (Please remember to keep it family-friendly and to leave a link to your direct blog post on this subject–not your blog’s home page.)

 

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: A few things we’ve enjoyed this season

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Inspired by Little House on the Prairie, we made bear pancakes for Christmas week. Kathrynne thought they were the neatest pancakes ever. Talk about an easy and simple way to bring a smile to a little girl's face!

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We made some of our favorite Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists to take to a Christmas gathering this week and will be making more for our Christmas morning brunch. These are just so delicious and relatively easy to whip up, too. I posted the recipe here.

HIBCover

December just wouldn't be the same without Christmas music! We love it and listen to it almost constantly as soon as Thanksgiving is over with (well, sometimes I can't wait and have to turn on some before then!). One of our favorites is the CD my sister recently produced in conjunction with The WILDs. (Listen to clips here.) Read more about some of the other CDs and music we've enjoyed this season here.

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Cozying up on the sofa with a stack of books and hot drinks has occupied many of our December afternoons. We always tackle quite an eclectic mix of books, but we've enjoyed a number of Christmas-y ones in the last few weeks. You can read about those here.

(By the way, I requested most of these off of PaperBackSwap–one of my favorite sources for building our family library! And since the girls love books so much, I've stashed some of the books away that we've gotten in the mail from PaperBackSwap recently and will be wrapping them up for Christmas presents. They will love this and it's about as frugal as it gets when it comes to Christmas presents!)

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And finally, one way we've sought to keep a Christ-centered Christmas this year is by doing a Jesse Tree. If you've never heard of this concept before, you can read more about what it is and how we're doing it here.

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Homemade gifts

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One thing we did for some simple homemade gifts this year was to make up a bunch of hot drink mixes. I love hot drink mixes in the Wintertime and they're a nice gift to give since they don't need to be used right away but can be enjoyed at the recipient's leisure.

We made: Vanilla Chai Tea Mix, Fireside Coffee Mix, and Hot Spiced Tea Mix.

I bought some gift bags and tags and ribbon at 50% off at Hobby Lobby last week for $0.99 per 20 of each and used these to package up the gifts. While I could have made my own and probably saved a few dimes, I figured that keeping it simple and saving time and effort was worth paying a little bit extra for.

We'll be putting these drink mixes in gift baskets with the mini-loaves of sweet breads I made up yesterday and a bag of this Corny Snack Mix (thanks to Shannon for the recipe link!). All of these items can be stored in the freezer, too, so if the recipient has lots of homemade goodies around, they can save ours to enjoy later.

It's a simple and inexpensive homemade gift, but I think it will be meaningful and appreciated by those who receive it. And we had a lot of fun putting them together, too!

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Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Cookie-Baking Day!

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We took the day off today from our usual routine and had a cookie-baking/bread-baking day. I always try to take at least a day or two the week before Christmas to do some fun baking. And it's especially enjoyable now that the girls are old enough to help some.

Today, we made 32 mini-loaves of different sweet breads (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip, Apple Walnut, and Lemon breads) to give as gifts and the girls made and decorated a variety of Christmas cookies to share with others.

There are more pictures of our day posted over here.

Celebrating a Simple Christmas: Introduction

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I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I don't start any Christmas preparations until after December 1. Seriously.

That might sound odd coming from a person who usually is a pretty meticulous planner, however, I've found that waiting until December to start Christmas preparations helps tremendously to keep things simple.

And keeping things simple is one of the most important things to me about Christmas. If I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off and feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed, it's not worth it to me. I'd rather keep it simple, do less, and have time to really enjoy the Christmas season and all that it entails.

With this in mind, our family chooses a few things each year to do and enjoy during the Christmas season. Each year, it's a little different–and that adds to the fun!

This year, we're choosing to enjoy lots of Christmas music, put up our first Christmas tree and lights on our home, have a cookie-baking day, make homemade gifts for a few friends and family, read Christmas stories and books, attend a few get-togethers with friends, go caroling to some elderly folks and shut-ins, celebrate Advent with a Jesse Tree, get a few special gifts for our immediate family members, and enjoy lots of memorable time with family. We spread out these activities over the whole month of December so that no week is packed to the gills and we're able to take time to savor each thing.

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing a little peek into our family's simple Christmas celebrations this year. My goal in sharing is not so that you'll feel like you need to do exactly what we do (please don't!) but to just inspire you (hopefully!) to consider choosing what really matters to your family this Christmas and to encourage your family to stop and savor the sights, smells, and sounds of this season!

May your Christmas season be a wonderfully blessed, unhurried, and joyful time of year, a time for making memories, sharing laughter with family and friends, and, most of all, remembering the One Who was born so long ago in a humble manger.

photo by yvestown