"Every year I create a small recipe book that I give to family, neighbors, teachers, party hosts, etc.," said Gina Sekelsky of Minneapolis. "I have fun creating a new theme each year, such as favorite breakfasts or desserts. This year's theme was potluck."Give a show
Instead of buying gifts, involve the guests at your holiday celebrations in an impromptu show. "This will be our family's fifth year of giving A Gift of Time or Talent. We have had piano duets, spoofs, skits and puppet shows," said Niomi Rohn Phillips of Park Rapids, Minn. "The anticipation and excitement about this gift is greater than for any of the packages."Celebrate salad
For a fun, inexpensive dinner, host a salad potluck. You provide the greens and ask your guests to bring one salad ingredient (tomatoes, mushrooms, shredded cheese, artichoke hearts, etc.) or something to accompany a salad (bread, wine). Toss all the salad ingredients together with a simple vinaigrette, and you have a delicious, light and interactive meal.After-holiday holidays
Stumped for a gift and short on cash? Treat your hard-to-buy-for teen or has-everything aunt to a shopping trip after the holidays -- when everything is on sale. Wrap a handmade gift certificate for a shopping trip together to pick out their gift. And you can throw in lunch if you're feeling generous.Share your tips
If you come from a thrifty family, you probably have all sorts of cost-conscious traditions. Please send us your tips for saving money at the holidays. We'll publish some of the best ideas every week from now until Dec. 24.
E-mail us at cnelson@ startribune.com.