Introducing: Flat Broke Holidays!

10 Nov

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With kids jingle belling and everyone telling you, ‘Be of good cheer.’ It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

 That Christmas song recorded by practically every singer doing a Christmas album has also been overused on all those wonderful holiday commercials. You know? Those with a friendly Santa Claus smiling and children with sparkles in their eyes after they receive that special present, the gift they have always dreamed of having in their little heart of hearts — courtesy of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Heehawville Mall, whatever.

For those of us who are rolling pennies just to buy groceries, we want to shoot out the speakers or TV screen anytime we hear or see that stuff. I used to believe my dad was being a Scrooge for stocking his vehicles with CDs during the holiday season because he hated to listen to Christmas music. Now, I’m my father’s daughter. Bah humbug.

The holidays are probably the worst time ever to be flat broke, and I’m sure it’s 100 times worse for those of you who have children. Retailers don’t make this easy. They try to lure you in and give you visions of visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. They must be getting a VERY early start this year. I visited a Wal-Mart during my trip to Louisville, Ky. The Christmas decor was already out. This was Halloween weekend.

But if you’re creative enough, the Economy Grinch will not entirely steal your Christmas.

Through this Christmas, I’ll be presenting my own “holiday special” called Flat Broke Holidays. Sorry, my budget doesn’t allow me to book Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake and Kate Gosselin. I don’t even have enough money to book someone who came in seventh place on “American Idol” some year, Corey Haim or even some chick who was second-runner-up in the Miss South Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue pageant.

I’ll be presenting ways to combat poverty and still have a great Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa — whatever. I’ll show you ways to create cheap, but tasty food for family gatherings. The benefits of potluck dinners are endless. Decorations also don’t have to cost a fortune — you just need to be practical and realize you don’t have enough money to be Clark Griswold.

Christmas gifts are the touchiest subjects of all. This is often the time you feel obligated to buy someone the finest gift, and your guilt is the heaviest when you have to cut back — or even eliminate — on that gift. It’s either get someone a Wii or pay the electric bill. What do you do?

There is hope. Retailers will likely slash prices to the bone to keep customers coming. You also have to keep this in mind: Proper gift etiquette should be thrown to the incinerator at this point. I once read somewhere that cash is a tacky Christmas gift. To that I say: “Hell, yeah! Bring me the tacky!”

I’ll present gift ideas that are low-priced, but with a serious emphasis on practicality. Don’t buy something someone will eventually — even instantly — throw in the closet. You waste your time and money and the other person’s living space. You may later find that “special gift” at a local flea market with the others someday.

So the Economy Grinch has stolen your roast beast and your last can of Who Hash. Take a cue from Cindy Lou Who, and don’t let the mean one, Mr. Recession, ruin your holidays.


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