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Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we know what comes next: the big push to find (and pay for) all kinds of presents for neighbors, co-workers, the mailman, church members, and that aged aunt we haven’t seen in 30 years.

Just in time, we’ve got a great discussion going on at FWW’s social network. Money, post-divorce, can be tight and our members have gotten together to exchange gift and decorating ideas to make the holidays more affordable. I thought I would share a few of their suggestions here. For more check out “Inexpensive holiday ideas" on the network.


• Buy Chinese take out boxes from Smart and Final, decorate the outside with the recipient's name and some frou-frou, then put in tissue paper, half a dozen or so cookies, and the recipe.

• Decorate holiday wreaths. Take a walk and collect pinecones, spray-paint them gold or silver and put them on the wreaths. Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts and Michaels have great sales on ornaments to add on the wreath. Try to theme your wreaths to your friends’ or relatives’ favorite hobbies, personal style, etc.

• Do you have a great cookie, bar or brownie recipe? If so, give someone else the chance to make it. Layer the dry ingredients in a mason jar. Decorate the top with Christmas fabric, pompoms, beads and so on. Write the recipe on a cute card. All the recipient has to do is add eggs and water and voila, tasty holiday treats!

• Candy Cane Bath Salts: 2 cups Epsom salt, 1/2 cup sea salt, 3-6 drops peppermint oil, 2-3 drops red food coloring. Place one cup of Epsom salt and 1/4 cup sea salt in a bowl or ziplock plastic bag. Add peppermint oil and food coloring. Place the remaining ingredients in a second bowl. Layer the red and white salts in a clear bottle or jar. Tie a ribbon around the top and add small candy canes. This is a great, inexpensive gift, and great for soaking in a hot tub and relieving all that holiday stress.


• Use red-and-white candy canes — a dozen cost 88 cents — for decorating. Put them on presents with a simple bow, hang them on the tree, arrange them in a vase; surround a fat candle with them; put them with the silverware when setting the table, pop one in a mug of hot chocolate. Let your imagination run wild!

• Decorate with inexpensive ribbon. Buy inch or wider ribbon from clearance bins in all kinds of holiday colors (blue and white, green, red, silver, gold, plaid, polka dots, anything at all). Make bows and put them all over the house: on doorknobs, on the edge of a picture frame, on the spindles of the staircase. Then cover your tree in bows. It really pulls the house together and, if you have children, they can help.

These are just a few inexpensive gift and decorating ideas for the Holidays. For more or to share some of your own join the ladies on the network or leave a comment below. Above all, slow down, find ways to de-stress holiday gift giving and decorating and enjoy your holidays.

The meaning of the season, and the gathering of friends and family, is more important than the gifts you give or how much decorating you do.

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