Frugal Decorating For Fall

Autumn cornucopiaFall has been a traditional time of harvest celebration since the days when farming was commonplace, and this theme continues today even in urban communities. Decorating for the fall harvest means celebrating the plenty of the season and heralding the change from summer to winter. It can also be a festive time to usher in the holiday season. Here are some tips and ideas for your fall harvest decorating this year.

Charming Frames
Chances are, you have picture frames stored away in various places in your home. They make popular gifts, and many of us end up with more than we need. If not, you can often find them for very little money at second-hand stores and even some major retailers.

You can make fall harvest decorations from these ordinary frames. Lightly glue pressed leaves and/or flowers onto a blank white background, such as a piece of card stock, and insert it into the frame. If you are lucky enough to have frames with two pieces of glass, you can achieve a floating leaf look by sandwiching it between the glass. These look nice on a table, mantel, wall, or anywhere you want to bring the autumn in. Another note on frames – using a hot glue gun, you can attach acorns, seed pods, and other autumn odds and ends to the frame itself.

Natural Vases for Fall Bouquets
You may not have considered this before, but autumn brings all sorts of interesting fruits and vegetables that you can use as vases for fall arrangements. The best sorts of vegetables and fruits for this type of decoration are those with a long shelf life, such as squashes, gourds, and apples. But you can certainly think outside the box if you’re only going to have the decoration up for a few hours. In that case, you can include citrus peel cups and even hollowed out pears. Basically, you slice the top off of the vegetable or fruit of your choice, and then dig out the flesh to the depth you need. You can then fill it with water and flowers, or use floral foam.

More with Gourds and Pumpkins
All those inexpensive little gourds and pumpkins are readily available in the fall. Gather lots of them and make a wreath using hot glue and a circular base (such as grapevine or a foam craft ring). Another idea is to arrange gourds on a cake plate, or pile them in a tiered tray. You can even make a garland of small gourds, stringing them on fishing line or upholstery thread.

How are you decorating for Fall?

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7 Ways to Prepare for the Holidays Now

Christmas And New Year Holiday Table Setting. Celebration. PlaceWith the kids back at school and the weather changing come thoughts of the impending holiday season. With the shape of the economy today, many families will be cutting back on their holiday spending. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the festive time of years gone by, just that it will take planning and ingenuity. Here are some ideas on ways to get a jump-start on planning the holiday celebration.

Budget
Make a detailed holiday budget include everything that can be thought of that will be an expense. Start with what is already known. Looking at last year’s expenses will show where you splurged and overspent and give you clues as to how to shave dollars out of this year’s expense. Don’t forget to include things like cards and postage. Estimate the cost of the entire meal being planned from appetizers to desserts. If travel will be a big part of your the holiday, estimate your travel expenses including gas, airfare, accomodations, food, etc.

Decorations
Review those items to be reused from previous holidays. Check the lights and replace bulbs instead of buying new strings. If one need new items, try to shop for them before the actual in-store holiday season (stores have set times for different holiday promotions to begin) and take advantage of early sales.

Photographs
Taking holiday pictures at an earlier time will avoid the high prices of last minute photography sessions. If you normally use a family photo for greeting cards, you can sometimes get a better deal in the off season.

Include the family
Make saving this season a family affair. Talk with the kids on ways to save cash for the holiday spending.

Make lists
Lists are an excellent way to prepare for shopping. A detailed shopping list will keep you focused on the items that you’ve budgeted for, while helping you to avoid buying temptations.

Shop early
Avoid the stress and strain of overcrowded malls and stores. Shopping early gives you the time to comparison shop and purchase items on sale or at a discount.

Keep track of spending
It is always a good idea to keep holiday money separate from the rest of the household budget. This will keep you from dipping into cash that is earmarked for household expenses and will likewise help you to stay on budget.

5 Steps for Scoring Great Deals No Matter What You Are Buying

Shopping Bags

As a consumer, you want the best value for the price you pay. Unfortunately, there are many things out there that can entice you and keep you from making the best purchase. How do you score great deals when you buy? This article provides a 5-step guide on how you can improve your buying techniques.

Determine What You Want to Buy
Many consumers buy blindly. When you buy, you have to know what features you want to be in the product. For example, if you want a notebook computer, make sure you know what specifications you need. Maybe you want one that is lightweight, has a 250-GB hard drive and a 2.5 GHz processor because you are always travelling. Specify the features necessary in the product you want to buy and write them down. This will direct you when you encounter different suppliers. What you want to buy should be in accordance with what you need.

Research on the Item You Want to Buy
Researching on the item you want to buy ensures a cost-effective way of buying. By researching, you are able to compare products and prices. You are also able to learn about options that are not immediately apparent. The internet provides a great deal of information. Filter through the data using the specifications listed in step one. Take your budget into consideration and eliminate items that go beyond your budget.

Look Out for Great Extras
Companies or shops sometimes offer discounts or additional items when you buy their products. In the long run, this can even give you some income if you get an extra item for free and sell it online. However, always take into consideration the quality of that extra item. Is it functional, or is it given only because the company cannot sell it?

Buy in Bulk
The economics of scale used by large companies can also be used for personal buying. When large companies buy, they buy in bulk because the cost is much cheaper. If you really need large quantities of a particular item or you simply need the same item over a period of time, have an estimate and buy in bulk. Again, go back to your list. Buy in bulk, but only according to what you need and your budget. Use caution, however, and don’t buy more than you can store!

Learn to Negotiate
There are shops that do not allow for bargaining but many others have some wiggle room in their pricing. When negotiating, ask for the lowest reasonable price. This way, there is some room for gaining a deal at a price lower than the original. Be confident when negotiating a deal, but make sure to be polite. Sellers do not appreciate a rude customer. If you negotiate successfully, you might even get discounts for subsequent purchases.

Scoring a great deal needs preparation, fast thinking and courtesy. Remember these steps and you can save money every month!