Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Decorating on the Cheap 2.0

Ah, the holidays have officially arrived! You may remember my Christmas home decor spread from last year that cost me less than $15 dollars. This year, my Martha Stewart/nesting mode is really kicking in - I've decided we're going to get a REAL tree, so that means that I should spend a lot more money on holiday decorations, right? Wrong. Here are some things I'm doing this year to keep my house looking magical but keeping some extra dough in my pocket:

1) Using fruit - I did this last year with cranberries, and I did it this year for my Thanksgiving table scape (yeah, I just threw out the words "table scape"). There are beautiful in-season fruits, like clementine oranges, apples, and pears that are perfect for having around the house. Bonus - you can eat your decorations! Plus, you can pair spices like cloves and cinnamon with your fruit to make wonderfully smelling decor! In elementary school, I used to stick cloves in oranges to make pomanders and give them as gifts. The cloves help to preserve the oranges, too!
My "horn-of-plenty deconstructed" table scape.

2) Repurposing what you have - have some empty frames? Put some pictures of holidays past around your home. You could also make a holiday sign - print out "holiday" words, like "joy"or "snow", put in a frame, place on your mantle and voila - something that costs at least $15 at a store you just made for pennies. You could even frame holiday wrapping paper for a fun holiday piece of art. What about spare vases lying around? Fill it with ornaments and place on your coffee table. How about metallic ribbon? Use it to tie around doorknobs, drape around shelves to make anything look more festive.

My hurricane and apothecary jar stuffed with ornaments

3) Decorate with candy - by going to a drug store or a discount retailer, you can pick up your decorations and stocking stuffers! Candy canes are classic - you can hang them on your tree, or put in a vase or a jar. Fill a hurricane or glass bowl with Hershey kisses - this also works as a snack! And who doesn't like a gingerbread house? Using milk cartons, graham crackers, frosting and candy, you can make a great and traditional holiday decoration!

4) The great outdoors - bringing the outdoors in keeps things really festive and seasonal. In lieu of getting holiday flowers that die within a week or so, try holly. Head to a nursery, get a few sprigs of holly, and put in a vase - it would be a beautiful centerpiece. I mentioned this in my post last year, but hit up Christmas tree farms for spare branches that make excellent table decor. Home Depot keeps a bin in their outdoor department of branches people wanted cut off, or branches that were broken off. You might get a little sap on your hands, but for free decorations, I feel like it's worth it. Hunt around your neighborhood for pinecones and red berries.

5) Using candles - in my opinion, candles make everything better. Simple white tealights or small pillars grouped up on a table look simple, elegant and cheerful. Wrap a ribbon around your candles and they look even more festive.

6) Decorate with cards - I hope you still get holiday cards and letters from family and friends (why people think a "happy holidays" text is acceptable is beyond me). Once you start getting these in the mail, punch holes in them and string them up around your house with ribbon or yarn. Keep them for years to bring back memories of the good people in your life.

7) Get crafty - okay, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not super crafty, but there are some really simple decorations you can make with things likely around your house. Paper snowflakes, paper chains, magazine trees - check out Martha Stewart's great ideas!

With all of these good ideas, I have to get decorating!

How do you all decorate for the holidays? Any ideas for not breaking the bank?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Apologies for not writing a real blog entry in almost a month (yikes!), but I wanted to make sure to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. I've got so much to be thankful for...

In 2010, we bought our first home....

We are pregnant with our first child....

We witnessed many happy occasions of family and friends...


Just goes to show you that although money is important (and I'm so thankful for mine and my husband's jobs), it definitely can't buy you happiness.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones and eat lots of delicious food! Definitely thankful for socially acceptable elastic waistbands during the holidays... :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Emergency Fund = COMPLETED!

Happy Monday everyone!

I just had to give myself a little pat on the back - my husband and I saved and saved and saved the past few months - having a little one on the way will definitely do that to you! And within 6 months, we've saved up 6 months of living expenses! Our emergency fund is done! This is literally 6 months of exactly how we live right now; I think if we scaled back more on expenses, our fund could probably last for 8 months if we needed it to. We have it in ING's Orange Savings Account, so it's liquid, plus we're still earning 1.1% interest - it's not much, but every little bit helps!

Our saving journey is not over - we're putting money aside for our estimated hospital costs of labor and delivery, starting a college fund for the bambina, and putting aside other money for general kid expenses. And I know I've been saying this for almost a year, but we're going to start a Roth IRA before the year is over! What a way to start November!

How about you guys? Any goals you've achieved recently? Do you have enough in your emergency fund?