Christmas decor'Tis the season of over-spending. Light-up reindeer on the lawn and giant trees adorned in the latest Christmas ornaments aren't necessary to a happy holiday. The fact is, you don't need a sleigh-load of cash to decorate your home this Christmas. There's a lot to be said for understated holiday decorating but, even if you do like to go a little overboard in the spirit of good cheer, Christmas frills from the dollar store let you make merry for much less than if you were to buy all of your decorations from Walmart or Sears.





Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. Her new e-book will show you how to decorate, entertain and give beautiful gifts using only items from the dollar store.I like to fill my crackers with some chocolate, a Christmas riddle or quote and either a small toy for the kids or something useful like ear buds or a mini flashlight for the older kids and adults.There are jokes and hats provided but they are the same four jokes in each package of cracker kits and the so-called hats are only one-sided cutouts. Still, these four piece kits are worth the $1.25 price tag, considering that I paid over a buck for a package of 12 snappers alone. I was never big on the hat thing, anyway. Does anybody really like wearing those paper hats? Tree ornaments: Glass, plastic, mini - the dollar store has 'em all and, at a buck a piece for the larger ones, you can't go too far wrong. Dollar Tree has tubes of shatter-proof ornament balls in various sizes and colors for just a buck each tube, special ornaments like a plastic stocking you can fit a picture into, stuffed Santa heads, sparkly butterflies and poinsettia ornaments and many others. Also, look for the traditional glass balls in either a 12-pack of medium sized balls or a seven-pack of large ones.

Garlands: Get a 15-foot pine garland, perfect for banisters, for only a buck. Wire-edged ribbon is great for trimming the tree and it comes in 9- foot rolls in a variety of lovely designs or you can stick to the more traditional tinsel garland.

Table decorations: Snow globes are always fun table toppers and Dollar Tree has a couple of different designs to choose from. Christmas taper candles are $1 for a package of two and look for pillar candles and tea lights in seasonal colors, as well. I recently found some tea light holders shaped like Christmas ball ornaments and packed in a clear box. I think you could use one of these as a great addition to a Christmas gift basket, as well as for decorating your own home.

Mini lights and electrical cords: Dollar Tree has a set of 35 mini lights and 6-foot extension cords to help you light your tree for less. Look for the safety standards seal on the box. Most of the power cords and mini lights I've seen have it, but you can't be too careful. If electrical cords and lights haven't been tested, they could prove to be fire hazards.

Craft supplies: Apart from the usual things that will help to keep the kids happily cutting, gluing and painting on Christmas themes, Dollar Tree always has seasonal craft sheets and this year you can download instructions for decorating a wreath in one of five different ways.

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. Her new Christmas e-book will show you how to decorate, entertain and give beautiful gifts using only items from the dollar store.

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