When writing this column, I often look to different resources for inspiration. So, when I saw the library was having an extension class on “How to Save Money for the Holidays”, I thought it would be perfect information to share. However, when I called to register for the class, I was told it had been changed to “Things to Bake for the Holidays”. Hmmm. Technically, I guess that is a way to save money, but not quite what I had in mind. So, I will share tips I have gleaned through the years on how I save money for the holidays, on a retiree’s budget.

The holidays are a fun time to get together, even though it is a busy time of year. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but there are a few tricks. Instead of an open bar, serve beer or wine, or one special cocktail or punch. Guests will have a choice, but you will not spend a fortune stocking the bar.

Keep decorations simple. Candles, candles, candles. One trick my mother always did at holiday time was to have different shapes and sizes of red votive candles on her mantle. It was simple, but elegant, and a decorating trick I still copy. I also peruse magazines and catalogues for decorating ideas. I don’t always buy things I see, but I often come up with a less expensive alternative.

If you are entertaining early in the holiday season, which always get things off to a great start, and you don’t have your tree decorated, or maybe you forego a tree, you can still get evergreens. Often places that sell trees will gladly give away branches that have been trimmed. These can be made into a wreath, or just put in a bowl to scent your rooms. The sense of smell is a very under utilized.

Food does not have to be elaborate. Just having a variety of snacks, ready made, if you are pressed for time, or not inclined to cook. If you do have time, make something special. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that people can put on a plate and eat without silverware.

A Holiday Open House, over 20 years ago, that still sticks in my mind, had many of the elements I have described. What made it particularly special, as we were leaving, the hostess stood by the door, with a basket of freshly baked pumpkin muffins. She gave each guest a muffin, wrapped with ribbon, as they departed. I had mine for breakfast the next morning and it brought back memories of a delightful party.

Another creative hostess gave flower bulbs, wrapped in mesh, for forcing in the cold winter months. Again, I had fond memories of that party as I had a pretty hyacinth blooming on my windowsill in late January.

As I think back to holiday get-togethers, money should not preclude one from having fun. As retirees, we now have time in our lives to enjoy things that we might not have been able to when we were working every day. Why not make it a memorable holiday for people who are, or aren’t still working. Just getting people together is appreciated.

Alane CunninghamFinances - Planning for and Being Retired in the 21st CenturyAll Things Christmas,finances,holidays,savingsWhen writing this column, I often look to different resources for inspiration. So, when I saw the library was having an extension class on 'How to Save Money for the Holidays', I thought it would be perfect information to share. However, when I called to register for...Parenting Advice and Family Fun Activities