Almost-new party attire

You don't have to wear that same-old, same-old. To get a new-to-you holiday outfit without spending a dime, invite some gal pals over and stage a temporary clothes swap. Trade the sheared velvet blouse you wore to last New Year's Eve for the silk scarf your BFF wore to her company Christmas party. Don't worry, you can reclaim your togs after the parties have wound down.

Give a starter

It's a gift that keeps on giving: Bake a loaf of friendship bread (it takes about 10 days), then give away samples of the bread with the starter you used to make it. The recipients of your bread can then make their own bread and pass it onto their friends. For a recipe, go to

Cap it and wrap it

"We have all agreed to shop only at thrift stores, with a cap of $20 per person," said Kimberly Mohan of Bloomington. "We are seeing it as a kind of treasure hunt." Other tips from Mohan: Comb the dollar sections at Michaels and Target. "They have some really neat things." Shop drugstores and dollar stores for bargain-priced wrapping, decorations and tableware.

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.

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