Get more merry for less money this holiday season

Photo of Shannon Fromma
Wrap Christmas gifts in brown paper bags and accessorize with a burlap twine, ribbon and a sprig of greenery for a trendy, farmhouse look.

Wrap Christmas gifts in brown paper bags and accessorize with a burlap twine, ribbon and a sprig of greenery for a trendy, farmhouse look.

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So much can go into creating an indelible Christmas season: a pile of perfectly-wrapped presents for friends and family, decor that would make Joanna Gaines gush, a curated playlist of classic holiday tunes and gourmet meals that could grace the cover of Martha Stewart Living.

We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves - and our finances - during the holidays, in a normal year.

As we enter the holiday season amidst a pandemic, we may feel compelled to overdose on joy and go Buddy the Elf-ballistic to achieve a quintessential Christmas that caps off an otherwise crumby year. That’s OK. There are plenty of ways to shape a holiday cut from a Hallmark movie while keeping costs in check, even in the midst of the coronavirus and a struggling economy.

And, there's a very good reason to indulge in those customs and creature comforts.

Those traditions and trappings that we splurge on and surround ourselves with tap our senses and stir feelings of nostalgia. They remind us of a simpler time, like springing from bed as children on Christmas morning to see what presents Santa brought. They encourage us to reconnect with friends and family to reminisce and reflect on special moments and memories. They connect us to loved ones lost. They inspire us to pass forward the same warm fuzziness to those that follow.

In addition to recreating memories we ceaselessly cherish, forging a festive environment at BTCC国际交易会所home replete with fresh garland and evergreen scented candles really takes on new significance this year as so many treasured customs, like Christmas concerts, musicals, parties, Santa breakfasts, street walks and more, will most likely, unfortunately, be canceled.

Even the way we historically shop for those traditional trimmings will be different. Pre-Black Friday sales have been underway for weeks. Nearly all major retailers are closed Thanksgiving Day, so no need to stand in line while still digesting dinner. Brick and mortar stores will open on Black Friday but are focusing less on in-store specials and encouraging customers to shop online and pick up in store to avoid overcrowding.

Conventional wisdom suggests the most significant sales of the holiday season will be held after Santa hits the sack, especially the season-specific goods. However, you can go big and create a Clark Griswold-worthy Christmas now, without going broke. You just have to know where to look.

You can start at BTCC国际交易会所home. Grab some greenery and pinecones from the backyard to create a simple, natural display. Add a pop of color with poinsettias, available at Lowe’s for $2 each on Black Friday. Have a stack of brown paper bags? Flip them over and use them as wrapping paper. Tie a fabric ribbon and sprig of fresh or faux evergreen or holly around each gift for a farmhouse-chic look.

Poke around the Facebook Marketplace for used Christmas decor, like artificial trees, string lights, lawn ornaments and more. You can set up alerts so that you are notified when new items are posted. Crafters also post new, locally-produced holiday products on the community garage sale group. Nextdoor is another social media app that features a local sales forum.

Dollar Tree is a good place to grab gift bags, wrapping paper, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, bags, tags, tape, cards, Santa hats and more. You’ll find a wide selection and save yourself quite a bit of coin. It’s also a great place to grab disposable dinnerware, cutlery and napkins. If you want to step up your table setting, you may find a nice selection of affordable stoneware and ceramic plates, glassware and more. Simple white plates can be dressed up in so many ways, with fabric napkins, colorful chargers (also available at Dollar Tree), candles and other accents.

Trader Joe's is a great place to purchase fresh wreaths, garland, poinsettia, boughs and kissing balls. Prices are typically 30-50 percent less than BTCC国际交易会所home improvement stores, but these finds do sell out fast.

Bullseye’s Playground, the racks and bins of bargain finds located at the front of all Target stores, features a host of holiday offerings, like socks, crafts, wine bags, wooden sides and burlap-wrapped, tabletop Christmas trees. Everything is priced under $10. Craft stores also offer inexpensive decorations. Remember to look for coupons.

Closeout stores and discount retailers like Big Lots, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Ocean State Job Lot offer low-priced indoor and outdoor holiday decor, throw pillows, blankets and more. These stores also carry a variety of high-quality, low-cost treats for frugal foodies like sauces, condiments, baking supplies, crackers, nuts, salty snacks and gourmet sweets from Harry & David, Bob’s Red Mill and others.

So, those are just a few ideas and while Christmas is ideally about spending time with loved ones, not spending money, purchasing what we need to make the holiday season a little brighter doesn't need to be a bad - or expensive - thing.