My Frugal Life: A Frugal Christmas

Christmas time has always been a bad time for me. Being a single parent of two small children (they are grown now) money was always tight, sometimes even non-existence.

But I remember my very first Christmas in my townhouse with my two babies. I as able to afford a few toys, but not decorations or a tree (my favorite part of Christmas. But do to some maneuvering and creativity, I able to pull off a pretty good Christmas.


First, I was able to get a live tree for $10.00. Yes, this was some time ago, but still unheard of even at that time. The reason the tree was only $10.00 was it was missing some branches at the bottom. I ask the lot manager could I gather some branches off the ground and he said it was OK. He also said I could take what I wanted off the ground. So I gathered up the branches and carried home as many as I could. Since this tree was a little smaller, I was able to get some bricks to give the tree some height. I covered the bottom of the tree with a red table cloth from the thrift shop. I also sprinkled gold and silver confetti on the table cloth. Since the tree was missing some of branches, I leaned the tree in the corner and added the branches that I had gathered, to fill in some spots.


For my tree decorations, I again went to the thrift shop. I found bulbs, garland, and ornaments. Most of the garland had missing pieces; so again, I just use different ornaments and bows to cover up the missing spots. I used the leftover branches to make wreaths for my front and back door, also using some of the decorations that I had gotten from the thrift shop (I tied red ribbon the wreaths and hung pine cones and bulbs. I even found a bag of letters (wooden, paper, ceramic) and I spelled out different sayings throughout the house. My lights were from the thrift shop and they worked. I used coffee cans punched holes in them, painted them gold, red and green, and put used candles in them as a table decoration. I found a green sheet to use as a table cloth and found 4 red placemats. I decorated the table with gold, red, and green plastic dishes. Except for the tree, everything was found or came from the thrift shop. I had compliments from family and friends. With just a little imagination, time, you make a Christmas worth remembering.

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

I loved this story! It reminded me of my daughters first Christmas (I was 20 at the time.) My uncle had cut down a small evergreen bush in my grandma's front yard. It looked just like the Charlie Brown Tree! I wanted a real tree so bad because my family did that every year, so I used it as my tree that year! It tipped to one side a little bit, but it worked! And I used decor from the Dollar Store, but you could never tell. It must be a Midwestern thing, I'm not too far from Waterloo (Quad Cities)!

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

My very first married Christmas 36 years ago we had even less money than that! We had absolutly NONE to spend on decorations. I found in the closet of our apartment a box of decorations that must have been forgotten by the previous renters. I pulled our coffee table to the front picture window, draped it with a white sheet, and put our lamp on it. I replaced our regular bulb with the red one I found in the box and draped the whole thing with the angel hair I found in the box. With the lights out in the apartment and the drapes opened I thought it gave the lamp a sort of look of a tree with red lights...sort of. It looked especially pretty in the dark. My new husband came home from work and was absolutly shocked - but not at my creativity! He asked me WHY IN THE WORLD I would put a red light in the window!!! My education into the ways of the world started then. Didn't do that again!!

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

It always seems to me the type of Christmas you describe are the ones we remember most and most fondly. Money can't buy the happiness that sharing time with your family gives you.

This is our last "Santa Christmas" because my little one will go to middle school next year. I want to make it memorable. Not with lots of gifts - but of memories of time spent together.

Thank you for sharing!

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

I love reading Christmas stories and yours was great. I always admire people that don't let the lack of cash get in their way of truly enjoying the holiday season. In today's world, a lot of us seem to forget what Christmas is really about. Thank you everyone for the reminder.

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October 1, 20080 found this helpful

Wow! I love your story and your great recycling ideas. What a wonderful way of spreading the message of love through your actions and creative ideas. What an inspiration for mom with tight budget.

Well done! I'm sure your kids will appreciate that special Christmas.

Thanks for sharing.

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October 2, 20080 found this helpful

I have 3 daughters and was also a single mother. I traced my girls hands on green paper and glued them side by side (forming a full circle). It was a wonderful Christmas wreath that I still put up every holiday reminding my girls there is more to Christmas than just gifts...that even in the toughest times, you can always bring Christmas to your home.

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

The first Christmas after I was married we also had no money to spend on "non-essentials". During November and the early part of December, instead of cracking eggs as I used them, I would poke holes in the ends and blow out the egg, then rinse and dry the shells. I glued bits of wrapping paper, ribbon and glitter on the eggs to transform them into custom ornaments.

When my daughters were small I found a pretty "hat box" and filled it with hats, purses, gloves, etc. from the local Goodwill store to make a "Dress Up" box. This box was used for years...

Things just don't have to be expensive to be appreciated.....

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

Lovely story, Jetruth! We celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas and money has ALWAYS been tight! I'm a single mom with one daughter. We decorate with all the things she has made thru the years. On our front door will be the Christmas wreath made from a coat hanger and sandwich bags sprayed with paint and glitter that she made in after-school when she was a wee one. Our walls are decorated with drawings she did and we use ornaments she made in nursery school! Too cute. I like this because it brings back memories! Chanukah gifts are simple. Xmas is stocking stuffers and always a donation to my daughter's choice of charity. You don't have to spend lots of money to have a great holiday. It is the time spent with each other that makes it special.

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October 7, 20080 found this helpful

First honey I thought the red light was cool until I got to the end (had to think Ha-Ha). Loves we had trees that were small. Trees that had two tops and everything else in between one year we didn't have anything (to tell you twice we did) one year had our baby on December the 10th of that year and did not work because of preclampsia (not really sick just felt like a beached whale the whole time). Second no money because of me not working and afraid dear daughter would kill the tree (she is autistic) However a dear friend sent us over some gifts for her and dear hubby was able to put together gifts on that day. We had a good meal and love and that is all we needed.

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October 19, 20080 found this helpful

Ah.childhood memories. I was born in the late 40's. My memories still linger. Cookies made for a month from handed down recipes, some from Sweden. I still make today as does my daughter and grand daughter. Every CHRISTmas my parents bought the tree from our church group tree lot. It was brought home. Out came the hand saw, the drill and the magic began. Dad drilled the holes, extra branches were inserted til "perfection" was achieved! In the stand it went, Mom giving directions on which way it was leaning to much, not enough ,a little to the left, no, a little to the right. This went on for what seemed to my brother and I, hours. Then it sat til the next night. Lights were placed just right! Then the wonderful decorations. Some our school made ones the rest all meaningful. And finally the "tinsel" which was placed individually, not thrown on (drives my kids nuts). Heaven knows where the decorations all went. My Dad passed in 1963 and my Mom rests well in a wonderful nursing home. Though she's in the final stages of Alzheimers I hope she can hear me when I talk of all the wonderful "memories" they both gave me. Thanks for letting me share my most cherished memory. I didn't know we didn't have much back then but wonderful family memories can't be bought. They're made.

May this Holiday season bring peace on Earth.Keeper in NC

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