My husband and I didn’t have time to buy a dining room table before hosting Thanksgiving this year. Fortunately, we found a creative solution for this conundrum: the patio table. Had we had the 11 people we originally expected, rather than the 6 we had, we would have used the patio table plus our kitchen table.

The Art of Doing with Less
Obviously, I didn’t want to eat outside in November, and I also didn’t want my guests to feel like we were at a patio table. To protect my floors, I put dollar store baby mittens on the feet of the table. I used kitchen chairs and two folding chairs rather than patio chairs. Then, I laid a nice tablecloth over the top. We dressed it up with my wedding candleholders and a few fresh flowers. I even brought out my nice white napkins I received for my wedding. It looked and felt fancy, even if we were eating at a patio table.

The key to getting by with less is to dress up what you do have so that it looks nice. If you only have a small tree, dress it up with the nicest of your ornaments. If you only have a few holiday candles, put out an assortment of candleholders in different sizes and shapes, but similar colors. A trio usually looks beautiful. If you have extra ornaments, fill a glass vase or bowl with colored balls. Hang large wooden ornaments from doorknobs.

Focus On Being Festive
Just because you don’t have a house full of ornaments or can’t afford a major gourmet feast, you can still entertain with less. Instead of buying expensive candles and favors, put your budget into the food. Plan your menu around sale items. Serve finger foods rather than a full meal. Make it a cocktail party rather than a dinner. Bake cookies, fix appetizers based on bacon, meatballs, and cheese, and serve eggnog, brandy, and wine. Then crank up the holiday tunes and get ready to have fun. Your guests won’t notice the lack of gourmet fare if you don’t point it out.

Raid Your Leftover Christmas Cards
This year I scored 75 cards for $6.99 via a timely Woot sale, but for the past several years I’ve simply raided my stash of leftover cards. If you regularly send out cards, you should have a few left from each season. You may also have received cards from various charities you’ve donated to in the past. Match all those up to envelopes and then all you need to buy are stamps. Trust me, no one will remember if they receive the same holiday card two years in a row.

Give Group Gifts
Your gift budget goes further when you give a group gift. For example, my husband and I are joining forces to give my sister and her husband something they really want, but that is more than the individual budgets we’ve set aside for them. My sister and I have merged our money to get a better gift for my mom or dad in the past. My sister, my mom, and I also go in together on group gifts for my cousins, who would otherwise receive three small gifts. Now they get one gift they really want. We all spend affordably, but no one feels like they got gypped.

Remember the Reason for the Season
Amidst the shopping frenzy of years’ past, the reason for the season seems to have gotten lost. The true meaning of the holiday season is slightly different for everyone, but in general it means gathering with family and friends in a joyful atmosphere. So next time you’re stressed for a gift, just remember what the Beatles said: All you need is love.

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