Jingle bells without the jingle bills

FRANK AND MURIEL NEWMAN
Last updated 09:20 09/12/2013

Oily raggers are really good at making Christmas an occasion without the cost. Here are some tips for those looking for creative ways to celebrate Christmas.

  • A classic oily rag tip is to re-gift things that have been given to you but never used. One oily rag couple don't drink wine, but they gladly receive wine because it's so easy to re-give to those who do appreciate the occasional drop. (Hint: make sure you know who gave you the gift so you don't give it back to them!)
  • Another oily ragger makes the most of duty free purchases when they are travelling overseas. Being dedicated oily raggers they don't drink booze, but that doesn't stop them from buying it duty free and storing it for gifts.
  • Why not agree with your family and friends to have a "Buy nothing Christmas" and take out all the stress and cost!
  • One interesting suggestion is to set up a "free" store in your neighbourhood and have your neighbours bring stuff they don't need to trade with others. This idea of bringing stuff to swap could be used for a cost-free Christmas Day as well!
  • Don't forget about the online deals which will be aplenty this year. We too are getting in on the bargain buying spirit and offering our fun kids' books at a ridiculously low oily rag bargain price. Check it out at oilyrag.co.nz.
  • If you are looking for deal, have a look at the daily deal websites. There are lots of them offering coupons or heavily discounted deals, like grabone.co.nz.
  • Here's a good idea for a different sort of Christmas Day meal - have the men make the feast! Give them free range of the kitchen to produce whatever they wish.
  • Here are some tips if dining out over the holidays:
  • Keep an eye out for kids-eat-free deals.
  • Have an entrée instead of a main and share a desert - just ask for two spoons - or skip the desert and make it at home.
  • Some restaurants offer an early-bird menu for early diners, or have a late lunch as the lunch menu is usually cheaper.
  • Share a plate. Most restaurants will allow two people to share a plate for no additional cost.
  • Look for 2-for-1 deals. Take along a buddy, and split the cost so you both save.
  • The add-ons are usually the biggest cost of dining out. Avoid ordering the drinks by saying "water please" when you are asked for your drinks order.
  • Take a doggie bag, but instead of giving the leftovers to the doggie have them for a second meal. That way a $30 meal becomes two meals at $15.
  • Seniors should ask if the establishment offers a senior citizens' discount.
  • Sporting clubs and RSAs usually have big good-value meals.
  • If you are going out for a group dinner, ask for a fixed price at the time of making the booking. Think of it like a bulk discount.

And finally, here's a bit of classic Christmas Day fun for the kids - especially if it's raining! Make gingerbread men (or ginger-persons if you prefer!) with this simple recipe from Chelsea sugar: Sift 2 cups of flour with ½ teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of ground ginger. Add ½ cup of sugar then mix in 150g of soft butter and 1 egg. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Place in the fridge for half an hour then roll on a lightly floured surface until about 5mm thick. Use a cookie cutter or knife to shape the gingerbread men then bake in a pre-heated 180deg oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Make icing by adding a few drops of food colouring and water to icing sugar, then use to make fancy wiggles and squiggles - like clothing - and as a glue for lollies. Don't forget to make a hole in them before baking if you want to hang them on the Xmas tree.

Let us know if you have some special Christmas Day tips you would like to share with others. You can contact us (and join our newsletter list) through our website www.oilyrag.co.nz or by writing to us at Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

*Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.

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