The holiday season is usually characterized by excessive spending but this year, many of us have had to cut back. Here are some suggestions for recession-proofing your holiday festivities.
Extend your alcohol rations: try the "Carmen." The recipe simply includes white zinfandel and beer - a light beer, such as Coors Light or Bud Light is recommended.
Photo by April Diodato
Subprime gingerbread housing, also known as a gingerbread shanty, representative of the recession.
The legend of the Carmen comes from Keith Hooper of Buffalo, who has been spreading the Carmen at weddings and festive gatherings for some time. The drink originated from a wizened barber with a shop on Niagara Falls Boulevard, for whom the drink is named.
"We typically drink it in the morning or early afternoon like a Mimosa but it can be consumed at any time," writes Hooper. "Any white zin or blush will do; we usually just buy a box of wine for making them, nothing fancy."
The idea of mixing wine with beer may initially sound repulsive but give it a shot - it's pretty good and, most importantly, it's recession-friendly and perfect for parties.
Trim the fat
Forget about buying presents for your mother's friend's coworker's uncle. It's a recession! Buy only for family (preferably just immediate) and your closest friends, and trim your gift list further by buying for only the people you actually like. Set price limits on gifts and stick to them.
"Last Christmas" by Wham! is the worst holiday song ever. If you share in this sentiment, I recommend wonderful, free Internet radio on Pandora.com. The site provides personalized stations that play the specific kind of music you want to hear - suggest a song or an artist and a station centered around that suggestion is generated. For jazzy, classic Christmas tunes, try typing in "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt.
Best cookies ever (for few cash dollars)
Baking, while tedious, can be cheaper than buying an overpriced pastry to take to a holiday party.
The problem with sugar cookies made for holiday decorating is that the cookies themselves usually taste like cardboard (in my experience anyway). Here is a recipe for the most delicious sugar cookies I've ever had, from the Food Network's Alton Brown, host of the excellent show "Good Eats" - this recipe can also be found on the Food Network's Web site:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for two hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for seven to nine minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for two minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
Tonight, "It's a Wonderful Life" will be on NBC at 8 p.m. and the annual 24-hour marathon of "A Christmas Story" starts at 8 p.m. on TBS.
Enjoy beautiful music while having your annual Christmas Eve nervous breakdown at the mall. The Chautauqua Mall in Lakewood will have live music by local artists as part of "Holiday Rock and Shop," presented by the Infinity Performing Arts Program, with a performance by Stanley Barton today starting at noon.
41 West will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. today and Christmas night at 7 p.m. There will be live music Saturday by Big Heavy from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Have a wonderful holiday!
April Diodato is an OBSERVER Staff Writer. Give her the dish on what's happening at email@example.com