Of all my family members, I have the largest home. Quite naturally, my house is the destination spot for holidays. It is nice having a den, a couple of extra bedrooms and bathrooms when there are four times as many people in the house. Having the space doesn’t guarantee everyone will feel the love, so I’ve come up with some fun ways to make holiday guests feel welcomed without blowing my budget.
I turn guest bedrooms into mini-retreats making a basket of personalized gifts from my local Dollar Tree for adults and kids. I stuff baskets with paper-wrapped soaps, vibrantly scented lotions, funny books and extra toiletries. For the kids, I include age-appropriate toys, crafts, games and puzzles. A rolled wash cloth and towel completes the mini retreat basket and I leave it on my guests’ bed.
We never leave family pets out of the loop when they arrive for the holidays. A fun chew toy and doggie treats from the dollar store do the trick.
Sometimes the chilly holiday weather calls us outside. I find that no matter how large or small a backyard, there’s always room for a three-legged pillowcase race or egg-toss tournament.
Posing for a family photo family (pets included) has been an exercise in insanity. Still, everyone loves the results. Digital photos cost practically nothing to share and we make prints at our local Walmart for around $5/sheet. I like the pictures we’ve taken in a park setting best and everyone looks super casual and so relaxed in T-shirts and denim jeans.
Our annual wine and cheese tasting is a huge hit. We’ve even hosted a create-your-own-cocktail night, complete with sampling and judging. It’s much cheaper and safer than taking everyone out to a local bar for a drink. We invite friends, listen to great music and have a super time while the little ones are sleeping.
I take full advantage of my local Redbox to reserve fun family movies. At around $1.50/movie/day, my living room becomes a movie theater. I check the reviews and verify the movie ratings for parent approval. I present my little guests with a television viewing schedule that takes the pressure off everyone wanting to watch television at the same time. My nieces and nephews really enjoy making their snacks before the movie feature and it’s a good way to keep little hands and minds busy. Among their favorite snacks are caramel apple popcorn clusters and pizza nachos.
To break the monotony of watching movies and making snacks, the little ones love our annual Wii bowling tournament where the winners get first dibs on the evening’s ice cream bar.
There’s no law that says holidays have to be expensive when family comes to visit.