Be Fabulous and Frugal as you Ring in the New Year

Happy New YearDo you want to throw a rockin’ New Years Eve Party but don’t have a lot to spend? No worries! You don’t have to sit on the couch in your PJs and fuzzy slippers and count down to New Year with Ryan Seacrest — unless of course you want to! If you want to have people over are ready to celebrate, then I have some good news for you. I have searched the web to find some fabulous and frugal ideas that can help you throw a memorable New Years Eve Party!

Frugal Invitations

You can get much more frugal than free, am I right? I have found a few free invitation options that you can use to let your guests know that they are invited to the party of the year — or at least in for a fun night with friends.

New Year Invitation

(photo via Evite)

One of my favorite invitation websites in Evite. There several attractive choices for New Years Eve invitations and the best part is they are free! No need to buy invitations, pay postage or hunt down your guests for RSVPs. It can all be done on the Evite website. Easy peasy!!!

New Years Eve Invitations

I also found several free printable cards at the Holiday Crafts and Creations website. These can be printed on fancy or festive paper for a fraction of the price it might cost to buy invites.

But here is my FAVORITE…

I wasn’t able to put the photo up – probably because of copyright restrictions – but you simply MUST trust me when I say these invitations are fabulous!!! Head on over to the Perpetual Party Planner Blog and check out the post on DIY New Year’s Eve Invites.

DIY New Year’s Eve Favors

You can put those empty wrapping paper tubes from Christmas to good use with this craft I found on Holiday Crafts and Creations.

Homemade Party Poppers

Just click on the photo above to visit their site and see the simple step-by-step instructions. Use your imagination and creativity to really have fun with these poppers.

Need Confetti? Have left over wrapping paper from Christmas? PERFECT! Just stick the paper into your shredder for instant streamers or confetti (depending on the type of shredder you have). Or, if you want to keep the kids busy during their Christmas break, have them cut it all by hand. It up to you :)

Frugal Food

You can always ask guest to bring their favorite finger food, dessert and/or their own drinks. If you have been couponing then you have probably built up quite a stockpile of goodies. If so, now is the time to tap into that treasure and put on a grand spread for your guests — all for a fraction of the price. Even if you don’t have a well stocked pantry you can still find a lot of great deals and use coupons to save money. Frugal and fabulous!!!

hot spinach dip

(via Allrecipes.com)

One of my very favorite recipe websites is Allrecipes.com. You are sure to find a lot of delicious recipes. They have all kinds of recipes for appetizers, dinners, desserts, and even drinks. Check it out and get creative!!!

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to have fun, be fabulous, stay safe and please do NOT drink and drive!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!

 

Do you have any frugal tips for celebrating New Year’s Eve?

Easy Halloween Recognition Where Halloween Isn’t a Big Deal

Halloween

(via Dimland Radio)

In the Philippines, Halloween is not such a big deal.  It is considered a more Western tradition and is thus not really given all that much attention.  Sure, it answers our inner need for dramatics and our seemingly inherent sweet tooth but, on the whole, the day and the event go by with not too much fanfare.

That doesn’t mean nothing happens at all.

In some villages in the suburbs, the association organizes a village trick or treat event which give the kids (and the parents!) the opportunity to dress up in their most creative costume.  This is one part of what a lot of those involved find fun.  Here, not every costume needs to be scary.  In fact, dressing up like your favorite super hero or your favorite childhood character is more than enough.  You will see the simplest Casper costume, to the elaborate Jesse of Toy Story, to any of the Disney Princess, to Ben 10, Justice League, even Thomas the Tank Engine!  It really is that time to let the imagination run free.

But it isn’t just about getting all dressed up.  This is just a part of the fun as was mentioned earlier.  Another big part of the fun is dressing up your home’s entrance for the visiting ghosts, witches, princes and princesses.  Since the kids and accompanying guardians don’t really go beyond your front door, all care is taken to dress up this block of wood, any front-facing window, or even the smallest patch of garden or front lawn.

For single moms like me, the cost of dressing the front portion of my home is just an expense that falls far below the list of essential expenses.  But I also would like for my kids to experience the trick or treat and dress up fun that really only comes once a year.  So it is a challenge for me to allot money towards this event.

Halloween decorating on a budget

Here was what I did this year.  I decided to decorate my front door and two front windows with spiders, rats, and clay pots.  Sounds interesting doesn’t it?  Well, I thought it was and really, really easy and inexpensive too!

First, I bought 4 packs of these realistic looking rubber spiders (6 to a pack), about ping pong ball size each, for php60 ( 1 USD= 43 PHP by the way), and used super glue to glue white yarn to parts of their body.  I then thumb tacked the other end of the yarn to the tops of my door and window frames to make them look like they were hanging down from the top of the door and windows, in the act of perhaps making a spider web.

I then bought 2 packs of again-realistic looking rubber rats, black with the red eyes, each about the size of a small empanada and 8 to a pack, for php70, and lined the rodents up on the edges of the windowsills.

Finally, I took 2 medium sized clay pots, filled them with some Christmas lights (handy to get these tested for the coming Holidays, too!) and them lightly covered them with orange reflective paper.  I didn’t enclose them nor did I place the paper anywhere need the bulbs to avoid creating a fire hazard and I made sure that the lights I used were the outdoor, all-surface ones.  This gave off an orange glow.  Then I placed the remaining rodents around each pot.

These were super cheap, super easy things to prepare and to fix up for Halloween. They are also really easy to put away after. The best part is that I can use these props again next year, for another Halloween design.  All in all I spent around less than $15 on everything.

Although Halloween is not a major activity in my country, it is still a day that brings joy to a lot of kids playing dress up, running from house to house, asking for sweets and treats. It feels great to join in on the fun without breaking my wallet.

How do you save money on decorating for Halloween?

A Homemade Gift to Light the Way

ParolFor last minute gifts, some people choose to go the DIY way.  I am one those people and I choose this route for two reasons.  One, I do not want to go out and brave the Christmas shopping chaos of last-minute panic buyers; Two, I want the gift to be special even if it is simple, which a lot of my homemade items are.  The personal touch makes the gift special.

I’ve mentioned before that one staple in my country is the Christmas star or the ‘Parol’.  This is a lantern made traditionally of bamboo sticks and colorful cellophane, white rice paper or Japanese paper.  There are strips of paper coming from the two bottom points that represent the stars rays. The religious symbolism in this lantern comes from the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men on their search for the baby Jesus.  No home is complete without some variation of the Christmas star.

How to make a Parol

One gift that is special, can be used again, symbolizes the season, and is just plain pretty is this Parol. And because of traditional simple roots, it is also easy to make at home.

You will Need:

  • Bamboo sticks
  • Very durable thin string
  • Strong glue
  • Colored cellophane- for a glossy look OR
  • White rice paper- for a classic look OR
  • Colored Japanese Paper- for a modern but muted look

Steps:

  1. Make some thin sticks from a medium sized bamboo pole (fresher is better) that you might be able to find at wholesale flower markets or craft shops.  If you can’t or don’t want to make these on your own, go and look for ready-made ones. They are just as good.
  2. Tie five sticks into the shape of a star and make two of these forms.
  3. Connect the ends of the stars and insert braces inside the star to make it three-dimensional.
  4. Once secure, cover this frame with your choice of paper using the strong glue. You can get fancy and add frills, cut-out paper doilies, fringes, tails, etc. and attach them to the two bottom ends.
  5. Optional: you can purchase a ready-made socket with wiring then it will be easy to put a light bulb inside your parol. Just make sure it doesn’t get too hot or the lantern could burst into flames.

And, viola!  You have your Parol.

You can make this any size and any color you want.  You can make this lit or not. You can make this to be attached directly to the wall or as a hanging piece or even as the décor at the end of the stick for your lawn.  The point is, you can be flexible.  If you are especially artistic, you can create a design on the body of the star as well.  Here are some sample pictures:

I think these are the perfect, whimsical, special Christmas gift to give to your friends.  Even here in the Philippines, where the Parol is a staple, these simple homemade stars are still much appreciated.  There is that added bonus that it is re-usable, cost-effective, and environment friendly.  With a little effort, some materials, and a little bit of imagination, you can give that special gift.

Do you make homemade gifts? What is your favorite to make?

Easy-Peasy Homemade Halloween Decorations

Halloween CraftsHalloween is that time of the year when kids can dress up in their spookiest outfits.  This is when I think about how to prepare my house for the visiting little goblins and witches.

Of course, budget is never far from anyone’s mind these days.  This year, I decided to go the route of homemade Halloween decorations.  I decided to make it fun by taking on little “projects” that my son could help me out with.

Outside Spookiness

1.  The classic jack-o’-lantern

Take some Terra-cotta pots (make sure they are clean and dry), and invert them.  Cut out the eyes, nose, and mouth from some yellow-orange craft paper.  Get some all-in-one glue and spread it over the surface of your pot, stick on your jack-o’-lantern’s face, and seal it with another coat of glue. Place an old tree branch in the center for the stem of the pumpkin.  Line the pots on the sides your porch steps or on a flower pot ledge. This is an easy, kid-friendly, and cheap way to decorate the entrance of your home for Halloween.

2. Wolf path

Take some sponges and download some templates of wolves paws that fit the size of your sponges.  Use the templates to cut and create your own paw-sponge.  Get some washable glow-in-the-dark paint, dip them in, and place on the ground- maybe in your garden, or leading to the entrance of your house.  Your kids will love doing this! You’ve got a neat, washable, cheap and enticing trick to get the kiddies excited over the treats you have inside.

Inside your Haunted House

1.  Window treatment

Choose two window panels facing the front of the house (or any part where the trick-or-treaters are likely to pass).  Get some black cardboard and cut them out to fit exactly the shape and space of your windows.  Take note- mom’s and dad’s should do this part.  Then measure out pumpkins eyes, nose, and mouth and again cut them out. Make sure these holes can be seen from the outside.  Take orange tissue paper or bright orange cellophane and paste them to the holes.  From the outside, it will look like you have spooky windows.  My son loves this neat trick!

2. Kids corner:

This is one the kids will love to help you out with.  Collect an old hanger, some glue, yarn, neon paint or markers, and fiberfill and you’re set to go!  Download templates of bats and half moons and have your kids color them using neon markers or non-toxic, glow-in-the-dark paint.  When they’re done, cut them out, align the front and the back and glue together making sure to insert yarn in the top center part of the bat.  Take your yarn and tie them to the flat end of the hanger in varying lengths (think of those pretty hanging lights you may have in one of your corners).  Hot-glue the fiberfill to cover the entire hanger and then glue the half moon cut-outs in them.  Hang in your child’s room- let them pick out the corner!

Some Tips to Decorate Your Treat Table

Use some orange and black cloth to cover your table.  You can purchase a bit from your local store, just enough to be a runner. Fill old jars (remove labels and wash) with orange cellophane and candy for treats.  You can use jars of varying sizes, although wider ones would be advisable if you have them. Or you can use old tin cans, cover them with black craft paper, stick cut-out pumpkins eyes, nose, and mouth onto one side, and then fill with treats.

There are so many homemade Halloween decorations you can use to make your home Halloween-ready without too much fuss, money, and time required.  What’s most important is making it fun for your kids and their friends!

So, Happy Halloween! Trick or treat everyone!

How do you decorate your home for Halloween?