Ask The Readers: How Do You Celebrate Frugally?

By Ashley Jacobs on 28 June 2011 (Updated 5 July 2011) 98 comments
Photo: Rain0975

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Kim, Lynda, and Rachel for winning this week's contest!

The 4th of July is right around the corner and many people are gearing up to celebrate our Independence Day. When it comes to throwing a party, most people like to have an awesome celebration on the cheap. However, there are plenty of people who are just concerned about throwing an amazing party without worrying about the cost.

How do you celebrate frugally?  Do you buy food and other party items in bulk? Do you only buy things that are on sale? Or do you not worry about money when it comes to throwing a memorable party?

Tell us how you celebrate frugally and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, July 4th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after July 4th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Christie

We celebrate by eating REALLY well, but at home, or going out for lunch at our favorite places. If we do go out for dinner to celebrate, it is about once a year, we save up, and really go to a nice place. But otherwise, for 1/3 of an entree at a nice place, we can have filet mignon and all the trimmings at home!

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Sara N

We do "potluck" style BBQ's so each person ends up only having to bring one item.

Guest's picture

I always buy cake and brownie mixes when they are deeply discounted. You know just a few pennies per box. Then make them for parties and picnics like the 4th of July. I also keep my eye on deals for paper cups, plates and utensils. While we usually use our own dishes if throwing a party indoors, it's nice to go the is disposable route when we're outside. That stuff can really add up so it helps to buy in advance when possible.

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Emily

Depends on the celebration. I prefer to save money on birthdays by having parties at home and doing my own "catering." However, if it's a big, elaborate thing, like a grandparents' wedding anniversary with all the family coming, I'll spend the money to plan something catered so that I can enjoy my time with my family instead of worrying about if we're out of canapes or ice cubes.

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Guest1

We ask friends to bring sides when we host a party. That way we just provide the main course and drinks and nobody minds!

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Aaron

Hello! We host a website devoted to all things frugal and the like!

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Rachel

Hello potlucks! Then, i usually only have to make a dish or two (usually made from ingredients I mostly already have on hand).

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NJJ

When celebrating for the 4th of July I hit up all the Dollar Stores for decor and red white and blue items, and pinata stuffers like candy, figurines and glow in the dark items. And snacks too like chips or dips

For me celebrating the 4th means being creative For example, having potluck BBQs, making homemade crafts like flag pinwheels, pinatas, and pipecleaner firecrackers sprinkled w/ glitter and homemade rockets made from toilet paper rolls. Homemade rockets also make great party favors as well since the inside of the paper roll can be filled w/ small candies like hershey kisses or mini reese's pb cups

I do buy food items on sale and use coupons which help and any giftcards if I have them.

Also, another frugal thing we do in our family is those with young kids 12 and under they get a homemade red, white and blue tote bag or backpack to take the parades or BBQs or parties or pinata parties. To help save on having to buy large treat bags each year

We don't buy fireworks, since its illegal to set them off in my state and too dangerous in my opinion, but we do other fun things like putting red and blue food coloring in the bubbles and using the bubble machine toys

Guest's picture
Angela Ilsley

I buy last years decorations, plates, and napkins and save them till the next year. It looks like I spent alot of money on decorations but actually I paid 50-75% off full price.

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Detta

My friends and I like to take our parties wherever the fun is. Communities almost always have different events that are holiday-themed and cost very little or nothing at all to attend. For instance, we have a huge street fair for the 4th of July that we like to go to. We listen to area musicians for free, see fireworks for free, get a tan for free... Christmas is another great time to find events to attend.

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Rachel

My house is right by a fabulous park. For $10, I can rent a campfire pit any time year round. As such, we've made potluck picnics our go-to party event. Frugal, fun, and memorable!

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Danielle

For celebrations, I buy what I can on sale but I will splurge on some things that I think are worth it. It is a celebration after all.

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Diane

Summer holidays are celebrated with the family at MawMaw's pool, at a bbq with everyone contributing meat, drinks & a side dish. Family birthdays are celebrated with homemade cakes & a joint cooking venture, such as meatballs & spaghetti, again, with everyone contributing something. Happy celebrations don't always have to be expensive.

Guest's picture
judyyy

We have a little trailer on the river and we all get together there. I stock up on hot dogs and hamburger meat when it is on sale and I can double coupons. I can always get chips and condiments and drinks mostly free with coupons. Everyone that comes also brings food. We play games and just enjoy each other. At midnight there is a free fireworks show that we can see from our sun room.

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Diane

*Liked* you on Facebook!

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judyyy

I liked you on FB!

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Olivia

For celebrations like birthdays and holidays we use a long lead time to find items on sale to make the meals. I have a general idea what the birthday people want and zero in on the final options with them a month or so in advance. Almost always those very things come up at a good price/with a coupon over that time. I stock up on baking basics as a matter of course so cakes are a cinch.

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Ernest S.

Our strategy is usually to ask everyone to contribute a dish (potluck style), and relying on outdoor grilling for the proteins. Costco has great prices on meat, and we can usually stock up on a variety of food.

Otherwise, I like the idea of buying 4th of July decorations a year ahead when they go on sale. I guess I'll be stocking up for next year!

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Guest

We usually don't go out to eat much on regular days, so when there is some occasion we go out to eat at a nice restaurant, usually using a Groupon or some other deal.

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Ernest S.

"Liked" on Facebook!

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Betty

I shop the sales in advance for meat, chips, etc. If it's an adult party, I'll serve one themed drink in a pitcher- e.g. mint juleps for Kentucky Derby. This way I don't have to buy a variety of liquors.

Guest's picture
Betty

I tweeted a response on Twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/85754024497905665

Guest's picture
sandy

cooking at home- better food...better fun...decorations and stuff can be found in the house to use- learn to repurpose

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Tommi Brandt

I try diligently to only buy items that are on sale and that I have a coupon for. I try to use every Rebate that I can qualify for with items that I usually purchase. I am able to trim quite a bit off of my grocery bill this way.

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Michelle S

We celebrate buy having everyone bring a dish to pass and something from their house they don't need anymore for gifts for our fun games. It's easy in everyone's pocketbook that way. @MCJunkie

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Michelle

We normally have a "pot luck" with everyone in attendance brings something relevant to the meal - that way no one person is out a big chunk of change. If we go out to celebrate - I have a stash of restaurant coupons and deals that help and we almost always order water instead of the overpriced soda/tea that is offered.

Guest's picture
Kim

We put the effort into making the food ourselves using inexpensive ingredients but with good presentation - - potatoes seasoned just right, quesadillas are a quick, easy, inexpensive appetizer, slow roasted BBQ chicken, etc.

Guest's picture

We get paper plates, table cloth, napkins, etc. from Dollar Tree for celebrations.

@bctripletmom

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Helen Stockwell

We try and have all the guests pitch in and bring a little of their own flavor to the party as well... whether it is food, drinks, decorations, ect. It makes it more fun and then not one person or couple takes the full expense of having the party. We also try and buy stuff that is on sale or on clearance to save just that much more whenever possible.

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Helen Stockwell

Facebook fan.

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Already like you on FB. :)

@bctripletmom

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Kathryn Church

I try to buy items on sale and also ask others to bring certain items exp. different people bring glasses, napkins and plates.

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Tweeted - http://twitter.com/#!/bctripletmom/status/85782031178543104

@bctripletmom

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Kathryn Church

I "Like" you on Facebook --> Kathryn Alkire Church

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Steve

I celebrate frugally by cooking a nice dinner at home.

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Steve

Liked on Facebook!

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Guest

@CarpeRVA: @wisebread I scour the grocery store discount rack, usually find delicious side items & dessert for less than $10 total #giveaway #wbask

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jaimee

we celebrate frugally by watching the sales in the weeks leading up to our event and shopping what's on sale. We also do family potlucks for many celebrations, so the cost isn't just on 1 person/family

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jaimee

already like Wise Bread on FB (jaimee wood)

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Kirsten

We have had so many great birthday parties for our daughter. First a theme. Example: carnival. Then we searched sites and magazines like Family Fun, dollar stores and sales. We used giant cardboard box for ticket booth, hula hoop for football toss, sheet of plywood with balloons on it that husband made, I made the cake..took a jar and put candy in it...you guess the number of candies you win. I could go on but it was hugely successful and cost us next to nothing. Our teenage daughter and her friends helped serve food and ran the games because it was fun for them. Innovation, coupons, Dollar Tree..they all made it successful. And actually FamilyFun was my mainstay for almost all our parties.

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Kirsten

Like you on FB

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Carmen

When we go camping, we always pre-plan our meals with the other families. One family is responsible for the meat portion of one of those meals to cover all of us. We usually bring at least one side dish, and one package each of bacon, eggs, bread, and a gallon of milk. It still ends up being a lot of food, but it's less than if we each had to bring for our family alone.

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Tonya R

I use coupons to buy the basic stuff that I need then I also visit Costco for items like paper plates or sodas because they have awesome deals on bulk necessities.

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Tonya R

I "like" you on FB @Tonyamrader

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Kristin

I celebrate with pot lucks.

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Brooke

Food isn't what makes it a celebration for us, it's the people. Having people over, but mostly for a normal meal, keeps the cost down. Also, we can see the fireworks reasonably well from the baseball field across the street, so we don't have to drive downtown and fight the crowds.

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Indymoney

Most of our celebrations are planned far before the date. I put down the menu, things to buy, where to buy, and what to buy.

We're not into things. So, we want to have an experience than buying gifts. At the same time, our gifts won't look cheap.

For example, if it's my husband's birthday I'd cook his favorite meal (like buffet in hotel) and give him pleasant surprises.

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Guest

Usually a frugal celebration at my place is best achieved with a potluck-byob. Everyone brings a cheap, previously prepared staple meal or a baked good item like pie, cake, cookies, etc; and a dirt cheap bottle of wine (and usually the cheaper the wine, the funner the time, in my experience). Even if only a handful of people show up, there's ALWAYS enough food and wine for everyone to enjoy. The rest is history!

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Lynda

go to the park and do a potluck

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Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

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Lynda

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/85857650998386688

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Therese

We go for a picnic, walk around the parks and then go out for ice cream. It soesn't cost much, but is usually a whole afternoon of fun.

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Kandace

We just had a birthday party-- made cupcakes, paid for BBQ for 25 but it was well worth it. Spent almost nothing on decorations (lots of balloons and cheap crepe paper) and used what we had to serve.

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Kandace

like on facebook

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mary

We rent a movie, and make a really nice dinner. That includes some small appetizers, main course, and a hand made dessert. I look forward to those days the most, its so satisfying to make it all!

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GM

I like you on FB.

Guest's picture

I SO buy in bulk...I found a new type of diapers that I like for one of my kids. I am purchasing 3 packages tomorrow because they are on sale. These will last me 2+ months.

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rbee

homemade ice cream and hot dogs instead of steaks!

Guest's picture
Justine

For summer celebrations, we make pulled pork BBQ out of boston butt. Our state has quite a few hog farms, so pork is often on sale for 99 cents a pound. I've found them for as low as 59 cents a pound. I slow roast them in the oven until they are falling off the bone, then put the meat on a smoky grill with wood chips to give it a nice smoky flavor. This easily feeds 10 people. We couple the BBQ with baked beans and slaw, both inexpensive to make. Some sweet tea and lemonade and we're good to go!

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kelly smith

My husband and i celebrate by having a great time at home with friends. We like to have people over for dinner instead of going out, it helps that the food we cook is always beter!

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Heather

Potluck celebrations with friends and family are the best way to go. In the past we have gone the really cheap and easy route: Tailgate special from fast food place that we take down to the public park where there is a free fireworks display.

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Kristin

When we were little, the birthday kid would get to choose what meal they wanted, and we ate at home. We'd be allowed to have one friend stay the night, and we would pop popcorn and watch a movie.

Now that I've got my own family, sticking to this home-based celebration would certainly simplify things! :)

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Janet

I celebrate frugally by buying items in bulk.

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Janet

I'm a fan of yours on Facebook (janet janet)

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Janet

Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/janettwokay/status/86168875653271553

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KelR1

We celebrate by taking turns paying for everyone when we go out to dinner. We also gather at someone's house and bring food in occasionally. We don't get hung up on super-expensive, fancy food, decorations, etc. Most of our family and friends are very like-minded and frugal, so we don't have to worry about going overboard to impress each other.

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Mary Ann

We sign up for all the birthday clubs at our favorite restaurants and they usually send a coupon for a free entree or dessert. It makes for a fun, but frugal, birthday celebration out.

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Guest

Potlucks for family gatherings..for birthday gatherings, we bake the cake and make all food homemade & buy all decorations at dollar stores. All our birthday games are homemade, too.

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Guest

Whenever I feel like "treating" myself..I go out to "First Friday"...There is usually free wine and cheeze and fruit..Its free to look at the artwork..!Doesnt cost me a dime..!

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Elizabeth

We celebrate by going out to eat (with a coupon)! Our big celebration is when my husband comes back from deploment and we get to pay cash to bring our kids to Disney!

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Jeanine Pisciotta

Cooked my birthday dinner on the barbarque of prime rib, saves money by not eating out and super family time!!!! With teens of 16 & 18, that was the best birthday gift!!!

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Alicia C.

Oh, so many ways!
Potlucks, make-your-own decorations, using regular dishes rather than buying paper ones, entertainment = stereo speakers hooked up to a CD player or computer, fun games like obstacle courses or board/card games... the list goes on and on! I don't think I've spent more than $50 for a big party for years (including food!)

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Susan

We do many of the things others do: potluck, dollar store, stock up in the off season, etc. The most important part of any holiday is spending time with family and friends. Pick a couple of traditions and stick with them year after year and that is what the kids will remember.

Guest's picture

We're going to celebrate by going to a comedy club that regularly gives out free tickets and gives the birthday girl/boy a free ticket as well as a $25 voucher for subscribing to their loyalty mailing list.

We also have a restaurant.com gift cards that we had bought for $3 a pop during their 70% off sale a couple of weekends ago.

That's not too shabby for a night out with friends who want to celebrate the unconventional way with free drinks or food for the night.

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kristine

We have a fire in the firepit, and make smores. Time of year does not matter!

For birthdays, we make a treasure hunt for the gift- I leave limerick clues on tea dyed and crumpled paper that lead to the next spot to be searched for a clue, and eventually the gift is found! It can take 45 min of guessing, laughing, and running around!

The birthday person gets to pick their favorite meal we make for dinner, and I make a cake (from on-sale mix and frosting) that is special and new each time. I am an artist, so last years cake was a life sized strato-caster cake for my son, but I've made everything from Spongebob, to Mickey, to portraits, to basket weave shower cakes.

And for my teens b-day, nothing beats the reverse side of a large roll of wrapping paper as a table cloth, and dollar store crayons. The kids draw hilarious things, and my daughter won't throw hers away!

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Rebekah

I plan my summer holiday meals around the produce we get from our Community Supported Agriculture share. This weekend we'll be having a peach and blackberry crisp.

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Katie R

I celebrate frugally by doing things myself. I send e-vites (free!), I clean, I make the cake / desserts, cut the fruit and veggies, I create the decorations...and for informal celebrations, I do it pot-luck style, so everyone brings the food.

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Katie R

I like you on facebook!

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Katie R

I tweeted! http://twitter.com/#!/carrotrunr/status/86272186905673728

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Tamara

If we want to have a get-together with friends/family for a holiday weekend or a birthday, we buy cheaper cuts of meat for grilling (my boyfriend grills chicken wings, for example; they taste great and are healthier than the ones from the local wing joints) and focus on side dishes/desserts made with produce that's currently on sale or marked down for a quick sale.

As long as we focus on preparing most of the food ourselves, we're able to feed a good amount of people without spending a lot. It also helps that friends usually bring a dish or beverage to share.

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I like WB on Facebook!

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Jennie

When it's time for an at-home party, the best way is to have everyone bring something. No one minds and you get a wonderful array of food. All you're out is hamburgers, buns and dishes. Though it's important to make sure everyone doesn't bring dessert. :)

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Alex

I celebrate by going for a run or a hike. The best celebrations seem to come in communion with nature.

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Idabelle

I use Swagbucks as a search engine. Everytime I get $450 in swagbucks (every 6 weeks or so) I convert them into a $5 Gift card for Amazon. As a student, I enrolled in their prime membership for free. This means I can get free 2-day shipping on loads of stuff! At Christmas and birthdays, I buy gifts from Amazon, using my free gift cards, no sales tax, and free shipping!

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Sonia McQueen

We go to things like fun in the park, Popcorn and movies for free at the mall during the summer and I have fun at home with things we already have instead of spending money and we usually have more fun.

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kristina wittchen

I make everything myself. All homemade.

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Francesca

I celebrate frugally by buying ingredients and preparing special meals at home or by buying alcohol and consuming it at home with friends instead of going out.

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Jeremy

Our family parties are usually all covered dish affairs where everyone contributes to save money.

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Jeremy

I like you on FB as Jay Cee.

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Jeremy

I follow you on on twitter and have tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/bikeohio/status/87608087187423232

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Dee Dee

Try to eat at home 95% of the time, plant a vegtable garden and eat venison. Purchase items on sale with a coupon when possible, never pay non-sale price for non-perishables such as toilet tissue and cleaning supplies. Cook from scratch and use up leftovers. To me this is a reason for celebration it is good for you and helps you save so you can enjoys life more.

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Alissa A

I buy things on sale and have others chip in by bringing items!

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Hannah

We like to have potlucks. I usually make a main dish and ask people to bring sides. We like to do outside things like play frisbee. If it's cold outside, we might host a movie night.

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Rebecca R.

We use our "reusable" plates, silverware and napkins for celebration parties. We also ask our guests to bring whatever they want to contribute to the meal or celebration. We also plan ahead and shop the sales on food.

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kelly

I always search for end of season sales (Halloween, Christmas, etc) in preparation for the next year. Same with birthday supplies. Love potlucks.