Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Holidays Are Over. Now what?

Swag without Christmas elements can hang all winter.
If you're anything like me you are crashing hard from your holiday high. If you need to drag out the season until the end of winter here are a few tips to help that happen. 

Gingerbread withdrawal- Everyday in December I drank a non-fat Gingerbread Latte with whipped cream. I'm still wired from the caffeine. Now that Starbucks is no longer selling the 260 calorie treat I had to find a way to do it myself with less calories. Step one, brew your own espresso coffee at home, 6 calories per cup. Step two, sprinkle allspice in your coffee instead of the discounted gingerbread latte creamers at the grocery stores. You add zero calories to your coffee but get that gingerbread taste. Add the Cool Whip instead of creamer and stir. There are 25 calories in 2 tablespoons. Total calories, 56. Your sugar adds about 10 calories per teaspoon but if you use the regular Cool Whip, you won't need as much. 

Gift Card shuffle- So now you have a full deck of gift cards from your Secret Santas and that relative that can't stand you but doesn't want to be mean. What are you supposed to do with them, go the mall and be mauled by the post season shoppers? No, absolutely not. Although, that may be what that nemesis of a relative may have planned to have happen to you in the first place. Studies show that people spend as much as 150% more at a store from which they have a gift card. Here's how to beat that gimmick. Shop online. You know that $50 card to Best Buy isn't enough for much more than a DVD or CD nowadays. But shopping online gives you more control. Did you know that the shelves closest to the checkout lines are called "impulse buys"? Stores rearrange their shelves every season to force you to walk through the entire building before you buy what you need. This is done by monitoring what is most frequently purchased at the store and placing it in the middle or in the back of the store. If you're shopping online, you can use preferences to your advantage. Click the boxes that limit your shopping to the value of your card or less. If you still have too many items to choose from, limit your search to item that you need, then look for things that you want. You are guaranteed to spend less money online than if you redeem your card in person. Of course there is always the option to sell the gift card altogether. 

Donation central- Now its time to face the fact that you will not wear those jeans or those boots you bought this fall. Help someone less fortunate by donating the warm clothes you haven't worn. It's only the beginning of winter, so there will still be time for someone else to enjoy your clothes, even if you are re-gifting them.

Leave 'em hangin'- Did you know that the Christmas tree is a pagan ritual? So is the wreath and the mistletoe. If you believe it is bad luck to have these things up but you can't stand the thought of chucking such expensive pine in the dumpster just yet the solution is simple. Wreaths were originally an expression of wealth or your occupation. Redesign the wreath and leave it hanging as a symbol of winter or your occupation. Mine is called "swag". It's not circular but hang vertically like the leaves of a tree. I decorated mine with gold, flocking, acorns and pine cones. I tied it with a ribbon and now I have a winter decoration and not a Christmas one. The pine needles in my tree are sitting in jars of almond oil. Pine oil brings money and good fortune when you anoint a candle with it. It also smells nice in the house throughout winter. Add it to your ammonia when you mop the floor and you have Pine-Sol.

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