Thursday, December 10, 2015

Nutcracker Fun: Thrifty can still be beautiful!

Last week, we had the treat of going to see the Nutcracker ballet! David had found out about an educational performance that was only $5 and during the day so that was a good fit for us. It was out of town, so a couple of hours drive each way for us. Because of this, I wanted to plan some things to make the time smoother and enjoyable in the car.

We left early in the morning so breakfast was the first thing we needed! I was already making muffins for craft day so it was easy to use the same muffins for breakfast. The recipe makes about 24 muffins, so I made one regular muffin pan and one mini pan so these could work for both.

I had wanted some cute toothpick toppers and fun napkins to include but did not want to spend anything. The night before, a friend gave me a Christmas gift and it included these plaid napkins and chalkboard tags!!!!! Yay! Such a happy thing!

We were out of milk {needed to go to the grocery store!!} but had orange juice so we improvised and I poured the milk in these cute little milk jugs that I've had for a few years and just keep re-using. I also already had the cardboard baskets and have re-used them as well. A little square of waxed paper under the muffins protects the basket from getting spoiled.

Paper straws were left from our family hot cocoa bar last year!

Next, I wanted to provide some activities for the car ride! I checked out Nutcracker library books and added a couple that we already had at home. The Nutcracker bags and some lollipop shaped pens were from after-Christmas clearance last year. I had thought about doing a Nutcracker themed birthday for Emily but then we changed our mind so these were already on hand.

We did bring a couple of Christmas movies, but I wanted some hands on things as well.

Here were a few of the printables that we enjoyed:

Nutcracker Paper Bag Puppet
Snowflake Ballerinas
Nutcracker Word Search
Nutcracker Printable Puppets
Nutcracker Coloring Pages
Advent Calendar Printable Game {I opted not to print the pre-written cards but just the blanks and then made a game out of it such as go forward one space or sled back to start.}

The performing arts center had reserved rows 1-4 for homeschoolers, so we had great seats!

The performance ended right at lunch time so I knew everyone would be hungry as soon as we came out. I know I say this a lot lately, but I didn't want to buy anything extra or eat out but still wanted to come up with a fun lunch. In my mind, eating out would've been a special treat on this fun day but I'm betting they will remember this lunch more!!!

I bought these brown boxes for this picnic and have used them several times since. Mark down bread became magical by cutting out fun shapes with Christmas cookie cutters and spreading with simple pb&j!

We also had pretzels, applesauce cups and gingerbread cookies that I had on hand from Trader Joe's. I made pink lemonade for a fun drink and it was perfect! We had one applesauce cup on hand and I just made three more by using reusable containers and filling with homemade applesauce!

As I was fixing lunch in the early morning before we left, I was thinking about how it could be tempting to focus on the negative side of being thrifty: it is more work, it may seem less fun, sometimes it would be nice to just go out {and sometimes we do!} but then I thought of how we can instead choose to focus on what we do have and how to make that beautiful and lovely and fun regardless of how much it did or did not cost.

I've been working hard at trying to keep our grocery budget down and this is one of the ways that comes out is in not eating out or running to the store for a few extra things in between shopping trips.

It turned out to be just what we needed! We found a big parking lot and just pulled over and enjoyed our lunch in the car. Everyone was so delighted with their Christmas shaped sandwiches and fun store-bought cookies {a treat for us!}

By the time we bought our tickets and even bought a tank of gas, this turned out to be cheaper than going to a more local Nutcracker performance and we had an enjoyable day creating new memories together!

Hooray for making life beautiful even on a small budget!


Unknown said...

Great job monica! :) Christina

Shelby said...

Oh friend this is so sweet and talking to this mamas heart. You simply amaze me. Love, love, love this.

Lisa M. said...

Love this and all of your posts. As someone that lives in an area were thriftiness is frowned upon, I am happy to see these wonderful ideas. I find that groceries can eat a big part of your budget. However (like you said), planning is the key. We may not be able to control prices, but we can control how often we shop, where we shop and what we buy for our families. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas!

angie said...

I think that thrifty is even more beautiful than having lunch out. There is love packed inside every one of those brown take-out boxes, that have been re-used! I found it ironic that a Wendy's sign is in the background of one of your photos. Your littles will long remember the time and details that went into planning this themed day. And, as we have discussed, this makes a lunch out a true treat, because it is a rare ocurrence.
I would like to plan one activity such as this over the Christmas holidays. We are planning to go to see lights in the section of the city where our church is located. Maybe I'll branch out from there. I'm fairly good at planning parties, but I don't know where to start for something outside of my home. Like you, I desire to do so without buying much. I think it is more fun to dig through my various stashes and repurpose what I already have. This sounds like a trip to Pinterest is in order!

Mrs. Chrissy T said...

LOVE IT ALL! What a memory maker!!!!!

Monica Wilkinson said...

Thank you, friends for agreeing that thrifty can be fun and memorable when done with love and care!!! Now I can bask in the glow of the sweet memories and know that our budget did not even notice the difference in our little outing :)

@Lisa - thriftiness being frowned upon!? Oh dear, that is so sad!!! You can pioneer the way and model how sweet being thrifty can be :)

Kelli said...

Oh I just love this. Yes eating out is fun but making a fun and "pretty" homemade meal is just as good.

Tina Leigh said...

Monica I would rather have one of my Mama's peanut butter sandwiches than any fine dining in a restaurant! Thrifty..I would add that you know where, who, what, & how of the meal you fed your children. We had to eat out yesterday breakfast & made us feel physically bad! I love love love that you put these sweet things together for your family. You are a picture of what a 2015 Proverbs 31 woman should look like & I bet God is very pleased with you.

Mom said...

Love this - what a memorable Nutcracker outing! You have a real gift for taking a theme and carrying it out it a fun and beautiful way, then recording photos of it to share with the rest of us! :)

The comment above about living in an area where thriftiness is frowned upon resonated with me - back in the 1980s, that is exactly the situation we experienced. Thriftiness was a necessity for us, so I took the attitude you recommended, feeling like a pioneer going against the grain of what was considered normal at the time. Of course, few people could see what we were doing because there was no such thing as Facebook or blogs to share, so I'm not sure others benefited from what I "modeled" - but our family did by not spending money we didn't have!

Karate Mom said...

Monica, you have such a gift for making thrifty glamorous! Your time and love shines through all the details! I am intentional about being thrifty, such as shopping from my own pantry and freezers and totes full of fun paper products, etc. but I don't do it as much as I'd like.

I'm so happy that you got to see The Nutcracker -- it's a favorite of mine, because it brings good memories to mind -- my, then boyfriend, now husband, proposed to me during intermission!!! That was 32 years ago :-)

Merry Christmas!

Elise said...

You are so awesome, Monica!!! I love the presentation!

Monica Wilkinson said...

@Karate Mom: awww, what a neat story/memory!

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