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Fitting “Fancy” into your Holiday Budget – All the Glitz and Glamour on a Shoestring

Ideas for capturing holiday glitz on a tight budget

There is no time like the holidays for a bit of glitz and glamour. And even on a tight budget, it’s do-able! You just have to do your research (and resist the tempation to buy the first sparkling thing that catches your eye!) You can have fresh flowers in your home this holiday, along with hosting a holiday party and wearing the prettiest holiday cocktail dress…you just need to know how (and where to shop).


FRESH FLOWERS

Instead of a fancy designer bouquet from the flower shop that costs an arm and a leg, choose an inexpensive collection of blooms from the grocery. Split them up into multiple vases and spread them down the table runner for more impact. To really capture the sights of the season, choose bright red poinsettias. Ditch the crinkly foil pots and place them in inexpensive but sturdy pots tied up with a ribbon for the full holiday effect. From left to right, images from BHG.com and Mark Kintzel.com

        

 


HOLIDAY DECOR

“Fancy” doesn’t mean “Over-the-top”. Restraint is chic and elegant and when used correctly, a little goes a long way. Decorate with natural materials from your yard (like pine cones) or with cast-offs from the Christmas tree (use the branches to create a wreath or table decoration). Add DIY pillowcase covers in a holiday theme to your usual sofa cushions. Wrap gifts in one choice of paper with high impact, like this black and white striped version! From left to right, images from ThriftyStories, Tracy’s Trinkets Treasures and Pinterest.

    


HOLIDAY PARTY

No need to break the bank by stocking your party with expensive beverages when there are many reasonably priced options that will keep the party going! Consider serving one beautiful signature drink in a holiday theme for all guests to minimize purchasing several kinds of liquors. From left to right, images from The Style Celeb, The Top Inspired, A House in the Hills and Will Cook for FriendsPeruse this list from Food and Wine.com with the 150 best wines under $15.

         

If you are trying to stretch your dollar, opt for serving appetizers over a full meal (unless you suggest to guests to make the party pot-luck and each person can contribute a dish). Hummus is quick and easy to make. Toss together a colorful chunky salsa to serve with chip. Or skip food and go straight to dessert! Images from left to right, Cooking Classy, Inspiring Healthy Living and Printabella

                


HOLIDAY PORTRAITS

If you’re on a budget, you probably don’t have the money to hire a photographer to capture just the right image for your Christmas card. Take the photos yourself and create a collage of the best shots. Or ask your friend with the “artistic eye” to take a group shot of your family. If you don’t have a “nice” camera trying renting one from Borrow Lenses (affiliate). I rented a lens for a trip this past summer and loved the entire process; they were great (and my pictures looked so professional!)

Look online for fun photo ideas to pose your family and take a look at this article on how to take better photos of your kids. Shutterfly (affiliate link) has lovely photo gifts including holiday cards, ornaments, mugs and more. I have been making calendars and photo books from Shutterfly and gifting them to my family every year for the past 7 years; they are always a welcome gift, especially personalized with photos of your family!

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A natural photo of the kids is perfect for the annual Christmas card (and cheaper than hiring a photographer!)


HOLIDAY WEAR

Tired of dragging out that same ol’ little black dress year after year? No need to splurge and buy something you can’t afford. Ask a friend if you can borrow a showstopping accessory for the evening. ThredUp (affiliate link) has some incredible holiday items at a fraction of their original costs. Pick up a sequined jacket to fancy-up that ol’ dress, sparkly new shoes or an evening bag…or even a new gown altogether!

Everyone loves to dress up their little ones in special holiday clothes for parties and school or church functions but the cost of all those outfits can add up. For boys consider purchasing one nice pair of solid color slacks and a white shirt that can be dressed up with different ties or a colorful sweater vest. For girls, accessorize a plain dress with a fun scarf or patterned tights. Again, I recommend ThredUp for incredible, like-new clothing at resale shop prices.


 In what ways do you “fancy up” your holidays on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!

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A Disney Christmas – Holiday Decor and Ornaments Galore!

It’s so magical to include Disney themed ornaments and decor in your home during the holidays! Whether you make ’em or buy ’em, there are thousands of beautiful ornaments and decor ideas to make this season a little more merry! From left to right, Disney Store, Hallmark, Lenox & Disney Store


HANDCRAFTED BY YOU!

Pinterest has a plethora of fun ideas, of course!

     

Mike Wazowski Rudolph Nose Ornament DIY

Image from Family Disney.com

Tinkerbell’s Pixie Dust globe ornament DIY

Image from Crafting in the Rain.com

Jack Skellington sharpie marker DIY globes

Image from Theresa’s Mixed Nuts.com

Elsa’s Snowflake Ornament DIY

Image from Family Disney.com


STORE BOUGHT

If you haven’t the time or talent to make your own this year, many incredible Disney-themed ornaments can be had online! From left to right, Disney Store, Lenox, Disney Store and Hallmark.

LENOX

Lenox has some beautiful designs and high quality you’ve come to expect from them. I love the expressions on Disney’s Ariel’s Best Friend ornament from Lenox. And the pretty gold scales on her tail, so lovely!

Image from Lenox

 


HALLMARK

Hallmark has been a go-to for our holiday ornament shopping for years. My kids have a collection of fun designs with a Disney twist for the holidays. I like that there are some not-so-typical designs this year, including Baby Mine and True Love’s Kiss.

Image from Hallmark.com

Image from Hallmark.com


DISNEY STORE

Naturally the Disney Store (affiliate link) has amazing Disney-themed ornaments in dozens of designs. There is an ornament for everyone on your list!

Alice in Wonderland Ear Hat ornament

Image from Disney Store.com

Doc McStuffins and Lambie Sketchbook Ornament

Image from Disney Store.com

Mickey and Friends Holiday Ornament Set

Image from Diseny Store.com


HANDCRAFTED BY ARTISANS

Over on Etsy, a quick search under handmade for Disney Christmas Ornaments and you can find some beautifully crafted items that support small business.

Personalized Mickey or Minnie ornaments by KeepsakesbyNicolina

Image from Keepsakes by Nicolina on Etsy.com

Handpainted Buzz, Woody or Jessie ornaments by PaintnPly

Image from PaintnPly on Etsy.com

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman ornament by MelaniesCrafts

Image from Melanie’s Crafts on Etsy.com

Embroidered Felt ornaments in Mickey or Minnie design by StubbyTailCreations

Image from Stubby Tail Creations on Etsy.com


Do you have any Disney ornaments on your tree? Stop over at my Saving UP for Disney Facebook page and share with me!

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Holiday Shopping Guide – Gifts for Every Disney Fan in Your Life!

Disney lovers simply love receiving Disney-themed gifts! Here is a collection of items that are sure to be appreciated by the Disney fans in your life.

Holiday Gift Guide - Gifts for Every Disney Fan in Your Life!


Disney Treats for the Entire Family

Disney’s Family Storybook Collection: 75 Fables for Living, Loving & Learning

Cinderella Castle Fleece Throw

Disney Pictopia-Family Trivia Game

       


For those who love Classic Mickey

Appliqued Mickey tee with personalization

Disney Golden Years Mickey Mouse Rotator Black Watch

Classic Mickey Mouse Pillow

 


For the Princess in Your Family

The Fairest in all the Land Storybook Pendant

Elsa hooded bath towel

Disney Princess Doll Collection 

      


For Young Adventurers

Vinylmation Pirates of the Caribbean Set

Indiana Jones DIY “Grail Diary” 

The Force Duffle Bag

        


For the Men who Love Disney

Disney Villains Men’s Tee

Gaston’s Tavern Wall Sign

Giclee Printed Star Tours Attraction Poster

 


For the Ladies who Love Disney

Disneyland smashed quarter Tinkerbell bracelet

Sea Salt & Sea Marine Spa Collection

Walter & Rosie Disney-inspired scented candles

 


Disney Kitchen Delights

Chef Mickey Cookbook

Queen of Hearts Apron

Gourmet Mickey Mouse Dessert Plate Set


Minnie Lovers

Dotty about Dancing Slingback Wedge

Mickey & Minnie Downtown Crossbody Dooney & Burke

Minnie red, white and black chevron and dots infinity scarf

             


For the Small World set

Candyland – Disney theme Park Edition

Giclee printed it’s a small world attraction poster

Mickey Feeding Set

 


For Teens

Beauty & the Beast Stained Glass Art Shirt

Beautifully Disney nail appliques – Tangled Web 

Peter Pan Mermaids Pillow Cover


For those who think Christmas is a Nightmare

Nightmare Before Christmas pajama pants

Jack Skellington appliqued and personalized tee

Ballcap

      


For those Going on a Disney Vacation

Crocs McQueen 

Passporter for Walt Disney World

Mickey Mouse Luggage


Some of the clickable links contained in this post are affiliate links.

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Practical Gifts on a Budget (that are still FUN!)

Practical Gifts on a budget (that are still fun!)

No surprise to me, when I brought up Christmas this year, my husband said, “Let’s get the kids practical gifts”. We’re both practical people and for him especially, the clutter of tiny trinkets in our teeny-tiny house is well, terrible! We plan on minimizing the toy buying and keep with purchases that will go to good use.

“Oh, underwear for a gift! How wonderful!!”, said no kid, ever!

But practical gifts can still be fun to receive on Christmas morning, I’m here to prove it!


Practically Perfect Christmas Gifts! For added fun, I’ve included images and links from the Disney Store (affiliate). Click the picture to learn more about each item.

PILLOW – My kids all have the most sad looking bedroom pillows and each of them need a replacement. I’m going to buy them a new pillow and make a colorful pillowcase in a favorite fabric theme to put on it. No wrapping needed, just lay it under the tree! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own pillowcase soon.

SHOES OR SLIPPERS- I think it would be funny to hide the shoes somewhere in the house, as if the shoes “walked” away from the Christmas tree! Have the open shoe boxes under the tree and a treasure map with clues inside to find your missing new shoes…doesn’t that sound like something kids would get a kick out of?

WINTER ACCESSORIES – Replace last years missing scarf, hat and gloves. Place one of your child’s stuffed animals under the tree and “dress” it with the new accessories.

BLANKET – What kid doesn’t love a cozy warm blanket? Have you ever made one of the snuggly knotted fleece blankets? They are super-easy and there are so many sweet designs to choose from! I will post a tutorial on how to make your own knotted fleece blanket soon.

BOOKS – All year-long I keep a list of books that my kids would enjoy receiving and gift them with about five fun titles. This year I’m going to give my daughter a book about Finding Hidden Mickeys along with some short chapter books. My son mentioned wanting a field guide about minerals so I’ll give him that and a few other interesting field guides that I know he’ll enjoy. Stack the books into a tower and tie it up with a bow!

LUNCH BOX – Give their lunch a refresh with a bright and shiny new lunch box and thermos.

PAJAMAS – I don’t know about your kids but mine like to put their pajamas on right after school! If you know how to sew, making your own pj pants is quick and easy. Find a fun fabric theme and sew up a bunch! Make one pair in a holiday fabric and give it to your child on Christmas Eve. Roll them up tightly and slide several pairs into an empty wrapping paper roll for a whimsical decoration!

PIGGY BANK – Start them with a jingle-jangle of coins and a few bills inside and this practical gift becomes fantastic!

ART SUPPLIES – Maybe some households don’t consider this a necessity, but as a creative person I know that new drawing paper, pencils and crayons are a MUST! Put everything in an art box (plastic storage bin) along with some stickers for them to decorate the box with.

BATHING SUIT & BEACH TOWEL – Bring the summer fun to the winter chill! Present these summer essentials in a beach bucket with a tube of sunscreen and new sunglasses and you’ll be ready for the pool when the warmth returns.

SOCKS & UNDERWEAR – Yes, I know…no kid want that for a gift, but every kid needs them! Give kids a giggle and stuff one pair inside each present you give them this year.


Practically FUN Stocking Stuffers –

TOOTHBRUSH – My kids get a snazzy new electric version with a favorite character on it.

T-SHIRT -Roll it up and stuff it into the toe of the stocking.

BAND-AIDS – Get a box with fun designs for each child. Great to have in the first aid box when you need them.

BUBBLE BATH – Most of the time my kids take a shower but when they are feeling under the weather there is nothing like a warm soak in the tub. That’s when bubbles are a special treat!

WATER BOTTLE – Encourage hydration with a fun new bottle (choose different designs/colors for each kid so they don’t get mixed up).

COMPACT UMBRELLA – Slide one into their stockings and this spring they’ll be covered (literally!) when rain comes!


Do you have ideas for practical and budget-friendly (but fun!) things for a child’s gift? Share them in the comments!

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Christmas at Disneyland Park – The Merriest Place on Earth!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Christmas at Disneyland is nothing else but…MAGICAL! Even before you step inside the gates, you will see that the Park is decorated to the hilt. You will be amazed at the detailed Christmas displays down Main Street, U.S.A. From the 60-foot tall fully-decorated Christmas tree in Town Square to the colorful floral decor, nothing has been left untouched by the holiday spirit in Disneyland Park!


Here are the holiday highlights for Christmas at Disneyland Park –

Greet the characters dressed up in their holiday finest. We always make a point to take pictures with our favorites on Main Street, U.S.A. first thing in the morning. Check out the enormous ornaments and packages at the Christmas tree. This is a popular location and for good reason…it’s the perfect spot to take the photo you use on your Christmas card!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Guests may book the seasonal favorite “Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort” guided tour which provides entry (subject to availability) into “it’s a small world” Holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday and Jingle Cruise along with reserved seating and a holiday treat while enjoying “A Christmas Fantasy” parade. The tour also includes viewing of the holiday décor in Disney California Adventure, a keepsake remembrance and entertaining information about Disneyland holiday traditions. For information and reservations guests may visit any Disneyland Resort Guest Relations location or call (714) 781-TOUR (781-8687).

We have yet to experience the “Jingle Cruise”, a holiday version of the popular Jungle Cruise attraction but it sounds like it’s going to be as adventurous (and silly) as ever!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Mosey on over to the Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch for fun and games including music, games and character meet-and-greets. There are also crafts, cookie decoratings and seasonal entertainment. Pluto joined us at craft time one year! You’ll also be able to catch Mr & Mrs Claus for photos there as well!

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

Haunted Mansion Holiday continues its wild mash-up, covering Halloween & Christmas, with Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at the helm!

Special holiday food items include Walt’s favorite gingerbread cookies at Jolly Holiday Bakery and Café and holiday tamale plates at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante. Elf Mickey premium popcorn buckets and drink steins are available in both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

 “it’s a small world” Holiday has taken on a completely new overlay for the winter season with the children of the world dressed up in the holiday attire of their nations. This is a can’t miss attraction after dark! More than 300,000 lights glitter and every 15-minutes, the façade of the attraction is transformed with advanced 3D-projection technology.

Find a great seat for “A Christmas Fantasy” parade, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. There are 100+ performers in the parade and you’ll be sure to see Mickey,  Minnie and a special guest from the North Pole…Santa Claus!  Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” are joining the parade this year and it’s a great way to see them without waiting in any lines!

Each area of the Park is decorated for the holidays with amazing themed decor for that Land. I particularly love the colorful garlands in Mickey’s Toontown.

Christmas at Disneyland - The Merriest Place on Earth!

At nightfall, choose a prime spot on Main Street U.S.A for the spectacular special-effects show and holiday lighting. Magic will happen from Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle all the way down to the Disneyland Christmas Tree in Town Square.

Your Disneyland Christmas is not complete without a viewing of  “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show. Snow will fall upon Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” Mall and New Orleans Square! It’s a magical holiday feeling, for sure!!


Have you ever visited Disneyland Park during the Christmas season? What is your favorite part of the holidays at Disneyland? Share in the comments below!

I recommend purchasing your tickets early through Park Savers. Save a few dollars as well as time at the gate (affiliate link).

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8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Make it Through the Holidays

8 Budget Friendly Ways to make it through the Holidays -Helpful Tips!

With autumn here and winter fast approaching, we move into the festive “holiday season”! For some though, this time of year is also wallet-draining, stress-inducing and all-around nerve-wracking!

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips to make it though the holidays with your budget (and nerves) still intact.


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

HAVE A PLAN

Before the holidays even begin, sit down and outline your thoughts and expectations for each upcoming event. Let your thoughts run free and jot them down; having a calender with you may help. It’s not set in stone but it’s at least a rough outline of what the next few months may hold.

Questions you might ask yourself:

  • What parties will you be attending?
  • What parties will you be hosting?
  • Are you making or buying costumes and/or gifts for the family this year?
  • Are you going to be traveling?
  • What school events are coming up that will require money?
  • Are there special outfits that you’ll need to buy for upcoming events/pictures?
  • What are your New Year’s Eve plans?

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

DEVELOP A HOLIDAY BUDGET

Break down the holidays and roughly plan out how much you’ll be spending on each event. After all, the extra holiday expenses have to come from somewhere…and you should not be running up your credit cards or spending money you don’t have!

  • How much will you be spending on Halloween costumes and candy?
  • Is your biggest Thanksgiving expense in preparing the big meal or in travel costs?
  • In regards to Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, come up with an amount that you plan to spend on each person. Keep track and stick with it!

Spend where it most makes sense to you and your family and shift around your budget as needed. It’s easy to get carried away with the holiday spirit and overspend. This is one time of the year where you may need to put a hold on your credit card use to resist overspending and use cash only instead.


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

MAKE YOUR LISTS

About six months before Christmas, I start taking notes for gift ideas. I keep a spreadsheet of past gifts and take note of what was a “success” and what was a “flop”. I use that history to make my gift list for the year. I write down what I have for ideas (private Pinterest boards are good for this too) and then mark what I’ve actually purchased. This is also where I note the price so I’m keeping within my budget.

  • If you are hosting a party or a big dinner, make a list of the foods you’ll be preparing including all the ingredients. Work those costs into your holiday budget.
  • Make a gift list for each family and friend you plan on purchasing for. Keep that list updated as you buy so you avoid overspending.

Keep track of what you are buying. It’s very easy to overbuy if you are shopping early and stashing the gifts away. My mom was notorious for finding a gift she’d misplaced and giving it to us in March!


Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

TRIM YOUR LISTS

Now’s the time to review your list and pare it down. Even if you feel like you’re already being frugal, see where you can cut back.  Do you feel that you overbuy when it comes to your kids or are the things you buy even getting used or played with? Gifts should be thoughtful and not just “filler” under the tree.

  • Can’t afford to hand out candy this year? Do like we do and take the kids out trick-or-treating throughout the neighborhoods so you aren’t home to answer your door.
  • For the big Thanksgiving meal don’t take it upon yourself to provide the entire spread. Contact your guests at least a few weeks in advance to request they bring a dish large enough to share.
  • Think before you purchase Christmas gifts. Is that stocking stuffer going to end up at the bottom of the toy box by December 26th? Are the things on your list meaningful and purposeful for the recipient? If not, take them off the list.
  • Instead of buying a gift for every single person in the office bring in a special treat on December 1st to kick off the Christmas season instead.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

STOCK UP & USE COUPONS

In November you’ll start to see the fronts of the grocery stores stocked with “holiday essentials” like pumpkin pie filling, canned cranberries, stuffing mix, etc. And the mailers will come pouring in with coupons for those exact same items as well. Now’s your chance to stock up and save! If you know you’ll be using these items before the end of the year then by all means, buy them at the best price you can.

This is also the perfect time to pick up a few extra items to donate to your local food pantry or soup kitchen.


PICK AND CHOOSE

The invitations are rolling in and it’s not uncommon to have every single weekend from Thanksgiving to Christmas booked with holiday events.  Choose your favorite events and respectfully decline the others. You certainly don’t have to feel obligated to attend them all, especially if there is an expense tied to each event.

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

TAKE THE FOCUS OFF “STUFF”

If your holidays are more stress-inducing than joyous and you can’t for the life of you even remember what you bought your kids for Christmas last year, it might be time to get back to the basics of the holidays and take the focus off the stuff.

Meditate on what each holiday means to you and your family and make that “thing” your seasonal motto. Creating traditions and memories are the heart of a holiday!

  • I know a family that doesn’t celebrate Halloween but instead uses that day to take their family on a local hike through their mountains. It’s their family tradition and something they all look forward to each October 31st.
  • If it’s most important to you that your family be together on Thanksgiving Day then it really won’t matter if your table settings coordinate.
  • Capture the meaning of the season and ask your family what their favorite part of the Christmas season is. I asked my kids what their favorite part of the holidays is and the answers were surprising. My daughter said, “Going to church” and my son said “All the good food”. Neither of them said “presents”. For me, I love lighting a fire and curling up in a blanket to talk with my family. Only the Christmas tree is lit and there is a magical feeling in the air. To me, that is the epitome of the holidays. Find your holiday “sweet spot” and make sure to hit it each year!

Budget friendly ideas to make it through the holidays

DIY (OR BUY HANDCRAFTED)

Is there something on the list that you could make yourself? Or at the very least that you could purchase from someone else who made it by hand? Consider supporting small businesses (like those on Etsy), rather than padding pockets of big box stores.

Ideas for handcrafted items –

  • Make or buy handcrafted Halloween costumes or accessories.
  • Consider sewing up your own table runner and coordinating cloth napkins for a special Thanksgiving table setting.
  • Make or buy handmade coordinating pajama pants for the kids to wear on Christmas morning. Hair bows are perfect to stuff in a stocking. Unique handcrafted jewelry is plentiful on Etsy. Appliqued tees are so cute for the kids to wear for holiday parties. Bake your favorite brownies or give a jar of your favorite salad dressing…I promise you, everyone loves a handmade gift!

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GET CREATIVE

Budget extremely tight? Reverting to going the creative route instead of store-bought can be more meaningful all around.

  • No money for Halloween costumes? Simply put an outfit together with items you already own. One of my favorite Halloween costumes was as a gypsy with a long patchwork skirt and layers of my grandmother’s costume jewelry.
  • Bring the outside in for Thanksgiving by decorating with leaves and pine cones instead of store-bought decor.
  • Consider a thoughtful Christmas card with a “coupon” for your services. Perhaps you have a friend who loves your homemade tamales; You could offer an afternoon of cooking classes where you teach her how to make them! Kids in particular love the coupon book idea so this would be a great stocking stuffer for them! Give coupons for a family movie night in the living room, one night of their choosing to stay up 30 minutes later than bedtime, a “spa” day complete with at-home pedicures or even just an extra storybook on a night of their choosing.
  • Skip the grand ballroom on New Year’s Eve and get comfy in your pajamas at home. We love to have an appetizer-only dinner and snack on all the homemade treats that our friends gave us at Christmas. We stay up late and play Scrabble. For little ones you could ring in the New Year of a different time zone and send them off to bed.

With a little preparation, all wallet-hardship and stress-inducing thoughts should be minimized. Here’s to having Happy Holidays!

What ideas do you have for preparing for the holidays? Share them in the comments.

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