Frugality Continues On, Despite The Holidays

by Katy on December 20, 2011 · 17 comments

Okay, my tree house came with next to no accessories, but I still think I can sell it on Craigslist for $25.

Everywhere you look right now, it’s Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! Spend your money here, save your money there. Bake these cookies here, count those calories there. Buy the perfect gifts . . . no, make the perfect gifts! And don’t forget to be happy all the while.

This year, I’ve been super casual about putting together my holiday gifts. In fact, I’m nowhere even close to done. (Aside from a package which I had to send to my sister’s family in New York City in time for a December 16th birthday.) Pretty much, I’ve just been living my life. Cooking from scratch, shopping at thrift stores, hanging out with my kids, going to work and writing the blog.

Examples of my recent frugal activites:

  • Picked up from the library, and then watched: Morgan’s Spurlock’s Pom Wonderful Presents: The Great Movie Ever Sold (Very good, sadly not all that eye opening, as product placement in films and TV is hardly subtle.)
  • Took my son out for a treat at Grand Central Bakery after his Saturday soccer game. Because of their Tweets for Treats program, his treat (a chocolate croissant) was free. I did however splurge on a hot chocolate.
  • When I was stumped as for what to make for dinner last night, I was able to pull together a restaurant-worthy main dish of shrimp fettucini made with a sauce that included the last of some kale pesto and a big ol’ glug of white wine from the fridge. It seriously tasted like it came from a restaurant, and there was not even a tiny bit of leftovers. The pound of frozen shrimp was $5.99, and everything else was from the pantry. Plus I had walked to the store and found 11¢ on the ground.
  • Held quite the frugal neighborhood potluck at my house. To my husband’s horror, I served no booze. (Seriously, I though he was going to have a conniption fit.) I probably spent around $15 on food and the *gasp* lemonade.
  • Stopped in at my favorite Goodwill yesterday and brought home a Plan Toys Treehouse for $4.99. These sell online for $64.00, and I’ll list this one on Craigslist for $25. Free money!

Sometimes the best thing to keep yourself from succumbing to holiday insanity is to stick with your routine. You can keep your cookie swaps, your holiday sweaters and your lines at the mall. You can find me at home, keeping to my fabulously frugal routine.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelley December 20, 2011 at 12:44 am

Kale pesto sounds brilliant, particularly as we have a back garden full of the stuff. I’m not tired of it yet, but there will probably come a day….


Susan December 20, 2011 at 1:02 am

I haven’t been doing much at all, Katy. I hate the pressure that you can feel under at Christmas. Today we just plan to go out, catch a film, maybe go bowling…visit a museum, not sure yet.
I made a few Christmas presents this year and brought the rest. I don’t go mad as I’m fairly frugal…Christmas is no exception.


Jennifer December 20, 2011 at 4:06 am

Me too! I bought my supplies to make gifts back in September and have been happily (except when I have to give my machine a motivational cussing) sewing ever since! Haven’t had to be in the stores much at all and I LOVE it!


Jana December 20, 2011 at 5:06 am

I just watched the Morgan Spurlock movie as well and I have to agree with you. I was expecting to learn a lot more but it was still entertaining and his suit was awesome.

I haven’t been that consumed with Christmas or Hanukkah this year either. In fact, my nonJewish husband had to remind me that Hanukkah starts tonight! My daughter’s birthday is on the 13th and that usually takes up all of my energy.


Dogs or Dollars December 20, 2011 at 5:07 am

We made most of our gifts, and handed them out to friends this last weekend at our Christmas Party. Now I feel like I am in the home stretch. Nothing to do but sit snuggled in blankets next to my rental tree. Ok, so a few things to do…

Love the Tree House!


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary December 20, 2011 at 6:00 am

Me too, mostly staying home and doing my usual thing. I’ve purchased a few items for my kids and my nieces/nephews for the holidays. But we are still bringing our lunches to school/work, eating dinner at home, and enjoying evenings of homework and board games.

I maaaaay treat myself to a Starbucks Chai Latte later today, as I have been craving one for weeks. 🙂


Margaret December 20, 2011 at 6:11 am

I love the comment about the no-booze conniption fit. Over the past couple of years, we have phased out alcohol from our entertaining. It’s partly fueled by a tight budget and partly by the fact that I have been pregnant and breastfeeding and I just don’t think to keep it in the house!

It felt a little awkward at first, but now I don’t care. I just try to make yummy food and be a great hostess and make people feel comfortable. Sometimes people offer to bring it or just show up with it, and we have a little bit. It really does add a lot to the expense of entertaining and I have decided that I will no longer let it be an obstacle to having people over.


Penny December 20, 2011 at 6:43 am

I really enjoy your blog-it is so refreshing. The most frequent question I’ve heard this Christmas season is, “So, do you have all your shopping done?” That question really got to me this year. That is not what this holiday season is about! It’s about my personal faith in Christ and loving others as I should. I am making my activities and celebrations more simple. So glad I am thinking differently and find consumerism oppressive.


Maureen December 20, 2011 at 7:37 am

I’ve been having to work a mandatory 10 hours of OT at 1 job and then work 10-12 hours at my part time job in retail. I shipped all the presents last Friday, worked extra hours over the weekend and still had time to bake cookies which I shipped yesterday. I have my husband who will wrap the few remaining gifts for this weekend while I work my 10 hours of OT. I feel as if I’m in the home stretch as all the shopping is done and I don’t have to prepare any food for this weekend’s festivities. I will be at my sister’s helping out though. The pressure has finally lifted and I do feel relaxed. Well as relaxed as you can feel when you still have to work 50 hours in a week.


hippierunner December 20, 2011 at 9:02 am

I’ve been great at not succumbing to the holiday pressures to spend. With a looming student tuition bill to pay (not to mention student loans), it’s easy to say no thanks to spending and yes to all work that comes my way!

btw, I always love reading your ‘examples of recent frugal activites’ posts! My frugal activities for yesterday included cutting my own bangs (turned out decent!) and walking the 2miles to/from work. 🙂 thanks for always being an inspiration!


Barb December 20, 2011 at 9:36 am

I’ll admit we do the cookie swap (hey, it was my idea, and I love to bake). We also had a holiday dinner, but it’s a rotating dinner group-I just had to provide the home and the main dish. Most of my gifts were made, the rest were bought rhoughout the year and taken out ofthe gift closet. I dont go to the mall at all (year around not just at christmas), and since my business is quilting, most of my time has been finishing gifts for other people to give, lol.


Megg December 20, 2011 at 10:04 am

I keep forgetting that Christmas is this weekend! My schedule hasn’t changed and neither has my routine! (Although I did bake cookies for my neighbors!)
The only thing stressing me about the holidays is that I havent quite made it to the post office with my 2 last packages that I need to mail. I hate the post office in December!

PS Happy Hanukkah!


Robin December 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I love a cookie swap 🙂


Madeline December 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

Cheap entertaining: Most of my friends are really into green tea so I brew a pitcher of iced green tea with sliced fresh lemons from our yard even in “winter.” (It’s arizona) I keep a pretty pitched or water on the counter,also with fresh lemons sliced in.. Also– I ALWAYS ask guests to bring a bottle of wine to share, “if they like.” (They usually like..) I have a bottle of Walmart Oak Leaf white wine on the counter to start ($2.99) after the first glass it tastes just as good as the better brands.LOL. I get to keep the leftovers in the bottles they brought,too! Just splashed the dredges of a bottle of someone’s nice merlot into my crock pot of Lamb Stew I am having for company tonight–

We’re having a slower deeper happier holiday season this year– no rushing, lots of shared meals and fireplace time..happy holidays Katy!


Madeline December 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

I’m also the world’s laziest gift shopper. We often splurge on GROCERY items we don’t buy during the year, for christmas gifts. It’s easy to shop in the grocery store and I usually have coupons too! I bought my husband some gourmet popcorn kernels for our popper, and 3 small,single serving bottles of SAKE which he enjoys on occasion but rarely buys for himself. (Flower vases later) I also bought a bag of pistachio nuts in a net bag to tuck into a stocking (coupon) and my son loves POM bottles teas (he gives me the bottles to use as flower vases later also) so I put one in his stocking.


Tina (Tightwad Mom) December 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

This year has been a totally simplified Christmas. Most of my gifts have come from Goodwill or made with LOVE. Who wouldn’t love a vintage Pyrex dish filled with homemade rolls and jelly? My kid’s socks are going to be filled with toiletries that they are in need of (and the leftover chocolate I salvaged out of their Trick of Treat bags, while they were at school. Shhhh! Don’t tell them!). Tonight’s dinner is french toast made with the last of the eggnog, and the two loaves of homemade bread given to us by neighbors. I am thrilled to not have to stand in line at my local Walmart to score some last minute gifts .


Lilypad December 22, 2011 at 9:08 am

Have you seen this blog

I don’t know how I missed it because it’s written by a woman here in Seattle, but she shopped at Goodwill for all her needs in 2011 so Katy, you’re the first person I thought of when I read about it.

We celebrate Hanukkah (chag sameach by the way!) and so most of the Christmas rush just passes me by. It does always turn out, however, that someone in the family desperately needs something like socks right in the middle of the shopping crunch and I have to wade through Christmas shoppers just to get regular life stuff. (This year, it was my son who needed tighty whities. Sigh.)

I love that tree house, by the way, and I always wanted one for my son but could never afford it. Luckily, he survived without it 😉 and has mostly received checks this year from very generous relatives, which he is squirreling away in the bank…I, however, still have a scarred psyche from not receiving an Easy Bake oven back in 1975! Perhaps that is why I bake so much now. Yay! I just saved myself thousands of dollars in psychotherapy.


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