Many Americans are out shopping today as this weekend unofficially kicks off the holiday shopping season.

And while there are some good deals out there, not everyone has hundreds of dollars to spend on gifts for their loved ones.

ISU Extension and Outreach family life program specialist Sandra McKinnon says there are more frugal options available.  McKinnon recommends visiting thrift stores and resale shops to find crazy dresses, uniforms, hats and jewelry.  Then place the items in a decorated cardboard box for games of “dress up”.

Another option is drawing a picture of a special activity to do with the kids a few days after the holidays.  Whether this is roller skating, sledding or any other activities the children will look forward to spending time with you after the holiday rush.

Parents can also create a coupon to give children that says mom or dad will clean their room on demand.  So the next time you nag them to clean their room, they can hand you the coupon.

McKinnon says it is okay to simplify your life, especially around the holidays and the material things shouldn’t overshadow the spiritual and traditional aspects of Christmas.

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