Just because the purse strings may be a little tighter this year doesn't mean you can't celebrate the holidays like it's 1999.
In fact, you may have a little more fun if you have to put more thought into creating the atmosphere for holiday spirit, and anytime we can find a bargain, it's just another version of a shopping high.
The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, but for some, it is the most depressing time of the year. Let's do what we can with what we have and spread the holiday joy.
Let's take in a big whiff of holiday scents, listen to classic tunes, break out some old VHS tapes, find a new way to wrap gifts and create goodies just like Mom used to make ...
No. 5: Scented holidays
A great way to bring that holiday feeling to the forefront is to light some candles that take you back to the best holiday feeling.
Maybe your grandma baked apple pie the week before Christmas or you found candy canes in your stocking on Christmas morning. No matter what your special memory is, capture it and embrace it. Find it in a candle scent, light it at home, sit back and enjoy.
If you really want to get ambitious, buy a candle-making kit at your local craft or hobby store and make the perfect scented candles either for your home or someone else's. Your holiday memory can double as a great homemade gift.
That's one of the five senses down, let's tackle another one ...
No. 4: Classic holiday sounds
As your favorite scented candle flickers near the window, break out the old vinyl or crack open the iTunes. Sway to the music that only makes an appearance once a year, the music that snaps you right into that holiday spirit.
Some radio stations even go to an all-holiday-music format right around this time of year. While the incessant holiday music so long before Christmas can drive some people nuts, embrace it. Sing along and remember the holiday season comes around only once a year.
Need some motivation? Download these classics:
- "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" - Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - Brenda Lee
- "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" - Perry Como
- "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" - Dean Martin
- "Frosty the Snowman" - Jimmy Durante
- "Silver Bells" - Johnny Mathis
- "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer" - Gene Autry
- "O Holy Night" - MercyMe
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan
Now that you've got the music covered, let's move onto something more visual ...
No. 3: Turn back the clock
Holiday time is family time, so what better occasion to dust off the old home movies?
Remember when Mom flipped the video camera over and made all the footage sideways? Show that video. Show the video of making snow angels in the front yard, or the first time the kids went down the sledding hill that looked huge and dangerous through their young eyes.
If your family wasn't into home movies, don't fret, your old VCR still can get in on the holiday fun. Chances are you have some of the movie classics of the season lying around. Bust those out and have your own holiday movie festival.
Need some suggestions? Consider movies such as "Miracle on 34th Street," "Babes in Toyland," "A Christmas Carol," either of the first two "Home Alone" movies, "Elf," "It's a Wonderful Life," "The Muppet Christmas Carol," "The Santa Clause" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
And don't forget the 1983 cult favorite "A Christmas Story," a choice made especially easy and affordable given TBS' annual 24-hour marathon starting on Christmas Eve.
Next up, let's get make wrapping presents a little more fun and festive ...
No. 2: Get creative with your wrapping
A great way to drop extra money around the holidays is on shiny wrapping paper, spendy tissue paper and cute bags and boxes. Let's reclaim wrapping gifts and come up with other creative ways to do so.
Of course, there's the classic wrapping with newspaper. This is both economical and eco-friendly, which we're all about these days.
You can also create your own gift boxes with leftover wrapping paper, or any paper item. Wrap the box and the lid of the box separately, so it's beautiful but reusable.
Find objects at thrift stores that would make great containers in which to deliver your gifts. Have fun with it -- match the wrapping to the personalities of the recipients.
Have extra photos of family members? Downsize your collection by using the photos as gift tags. Cut around the gift recipient's head and paste it on the gift. It's a great way to identify whose gift it is and it's guaranteed to get a laugh.
Last up, who's ready to do some baking?
No. 1: Holiday goodies create a happy mood
Whether you're home for the holidays or not, there's something about homemade holiday goodies.
If you're far away from family, dig out some old family recipes and have family members talk you through baking them while on speakerphone. Tackle Grandma's secret sugar cookie recipe and share with your neighbors.
If you're attending a family gathering or blending families for the first holiday season, create something that has been important to your family's tradition and share the story through food. It will be a yummy and non-threatening way to bond with your new family or in-laws.
Make something you're craving and establish it as your own holiday goodie tradition. If food is involved, everyone will be supportive of your new ideas. Create frosted sugar cookies, corn flake wreaths, gingerbread men, Russian tea cakes, pie, homemade turnovers and your own creations.