- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The holiday season is fast approaching, and the online community www.frugalvillage.com has several tips on how to keep the season both fun and cheap.

The No. 1 piece of advice? Get a head start.

“If you’re organized, you’ll avoid overspending,” the site suggests.

Last-minute shopping, cooking, mailing - on the other hand - often means paying a premium.

A few tips on getting organized and saving money:

Cooking and baking: The site recommends that you start making - and freezing - holiday items now to avoid gigantic grocery bills just before the holidays.

Gifts: Make a list that matches people with potential gifts. Then take an inventory of your gift closet to see if there are any matches. Also, keep an eye out for possible matches at fall sales, which often feature camping gear, garden supplies and tools. Don’t forget to consider handmade and homemade options.

Money: Set aside money each week leading up to the holiday to avoid deficits.

“Even small amounts, such as keeping a change jar for a few weeks, will help,” the site advises.

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