Wrap up the holidays in style
Avoid Holiday Letdown
by Shaunna Privratsky
The last of the cookies are eaten, the decorations are sagging, and it is time to face the New Year. Whether your holidays were joyous, mediocre, or less than merry, most of us experience holiday letdown once the carols stop. Instead of singing the winter blues, try these easy steps to wrap up the holidays in style.
- Take out less trash. Instead of tossing the pretty wrapping paper, have the kids shred it as each present is opened. Save the colorful strips in a plastic bag for festive packing all through the year.
- Reuse bows, gift bags, sturdy boxes and ribbon. Every year, everyone at our house waits to see who gets the green fabric box with the purple satin ribbon. It's been in use for ten holiday seasons.
- Be a savvy Santa. Shop the after-Christmas sales for terrific bargains on next year's gifts.
- Pick up discounted holiday themed paper goods. Napkins, paper towels, plates, table linens and tissue can be had for less than half price.
- Un-trim the tree when the guests are still around to help. Group items that go together and clearly label the boxes. For example, group tree trimmings, kitchen decor, downstairs manger, sled collection, etc. It's a present to yourself next year when you dig out the decorations once again.
- Replace your old lights with the new, safer LED lights. They burn brighter on 80% less energy and are cool to the touch. Grab them on sale and you'll be light years ahead of the game next year.
- Sweep in the New Year with a clean home. Enlist the help of your kids, who are probably home on Christmas break. After a few days with nothing to do, they will be happy to help.
- Recycle your tree. Most cities pick up your discarded tree and chip it into mulch for city parks. They also offer free mulch to city residents in the spring and fall. So even after you pick up the last needle from the carpet, your tree will get a second shot at beautifying the landscape.
- Take a look at your bottom line. If the holiday bills are pouring in, sit down and form a plan of action to pay them off as quickly as possible. To avoid the same debt cycle next year, start saving now. A little money put aside each month in a Christmas account will add up to easy holiday budgeting next year.
- Whittle your waistline. Whether you indulged a little too much in Grandma's fudge or overdid it on the rich holiday fare, it is the perfect time to eat healthier and lose any extra pounds. Maintaining a healthy weight will save you money by keeping you out of the hospital or doctor's office.
- Plan your summer vacation. It is not too early to start thinking ahead to sultry summer heat and tempting travel packages. By researching early, you could lock in ultra cheap deals on airfare, lodging and your dream destination. It will also give you something to look forward to in the dreary winter months.
- Refresh your home's decor. Do a mini makeover in the guest bathroom by cashing in some of your gift cards. Add a splash of warm color to your neutral living room with pillows and cozy throws. Change out the outdated fluorescent fixture in the kitchen for a bright new look.
- Shovel someone else's sidewalk. Maybe your next-door neighbor fell on the ice and broke her ankle. Or you notice that the Erickson's down the block didn't winter in Arizona this year and are having trouble keeping up with the snow. Helping out fosters good feelings. When you need a hand someday, your neighbors will be there.
- Donate your holiday magazines. Christmas magazines typically have tons of craft and decorating projects, which are perfect for your child's teacher. Or give them to a nearby nursing home. Arrange to regularly drop off your magazines in the New Year to keep clutter at bay and let others enjoy them.
- Make a list of this year's favorite holiday memories. Was it baking cookies with the kids? Shopping the after-Christmas sales with your son? Wrestling the real tree into the van in -13 degrees below zero weather? This will give you a head start on next year's holiday season.
Keeping these hints in mind will make wrapping up the holidays a celebration instead of holiday letdown. Stay merry in the New Year by looking ahead and cherishing your priceless memories of a happy holiday season, from start to finish.
Shaunna Privratsky is an expert in personal finance. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
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