How To Enjoy a Frugal Christmas

71% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Christmas will “tight”. Somebody’s brother just got laid off.

Do these statements sound familiar?

For various reasons, my husband and I have been living pretty much paycheck to paycheck for many years now. However, we have a nice home, a good car, and we spend what we can afford. Truth be told, living this way get can old, and the kids won't be getting a Wii, but a recent study concluded that 71% of other working Americans live paycheck to paycheck, too. So I would assume that even people reading this right now are either living the same way, did at one time, or know someone who does. For those reasons, sometimes I dread the holidays and it can become difficult to keep a smiling face. But since my family and I have so much to be thankful for, the feeling doesn’t last long. It really doesn’t matter in the long run that we don’t have a Wii. Of course my son would argue that one. But really, we have a good family unit, and that is one reason why it keeps some of the fear at bay.

When we landed here in Columbus after moving from Manhattan-to-Vermont-to-New Jersey-to-Los Angeles-to-New Jersey-to-Ohio in 2003 (not all in one year!), we quickly realized it was a really affordable place to be. While I may fret about it being landlocked and the scenery can be a little lackluster, after a little digging, there were hidden gems throughout the city that held loads of entertainment for kids with lots of energy. And the city and surrounding areas do a pretty good job at creating some good entertainment that is free.

Take our venture Friday night to the Worthington Community Center, where every year they hold a free holiday family night with cookie decorating, holiday crafts, and visits with Santa. The gyms are also open for open play with lots of play equipment for both toddlers and elementary school children. The Community Center hosts family fun nights lots of other times throughout the year, so I highly recommend it.

Kid-tested and approved for fun:

As I mentioned, we’ve been in Ohio for about 5 years now. While I think the kids and I have scoured a large part of the central Ohio area, there are little jewels that I still continue to find. The jewel this weekend was downtown Gahanna and Creekside park. It had been a while since I had been through Gahanna, as I have no real reason to ever visit. Until this weekend. Strapped with empty pockets until payday, we decided to take the ride to view the winter wonderland they have on display in Creekside park. Again, F-R-E-E was the name of the game. It was freezing cold, but we braved it long enough to enjoy the stroll through the winding trial lined with miniaturized houses under a canopy of holiday lights:

It was definitely worth the cold piggies. And the boys then got a kick out of the ducks who seemed to be following our every move:

We plan to go back again soon to enjoy some of the restaurant and shopping scene.

The free entertainment doesn’t end there. Carrying on the theme of being a tourist in my own city, we visited the Orange Johnson House in Worthington. If you love history, it’s such an interesting place. For their holiday tours, the volunteers dress in period clothing, serve treats and even play live music. My oldest son is a real old soul and loves everything “old” and “antique”, so he had a really good time exploring the old house and asking questions about its history. While my son is unique that way, I still would insist that any kid with a little eye for something new would enjoy this place. Check out the Worthington website for more information.

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