Valdosta Daily Times

September 2, 2012

Not a lot of things rhyme with Labor Day ...

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Being in the media business, I tend to forget what the words “holiday” and “vacation” mean. However, this Labor Day weekend and Labor Day Monday, I will be sinking my toes into sweet Savannah sand and strolling River Street.

Now, I’m not paying for this vacation. Goodness, no! You should know me better than that by now, budgeteers. I’m actually leaching off my parents. They live in Savannah. I have no money. They still find my “poor college student charm” subtly amusing even though I graduated two years ago. It’s a win-win! Sadly, not all of you have family who live in vacation hot spots. Did I mention my brother lives in New York City and my best friend lives in Tampa, Fla.? I know, I don’t even know why I work!

I know all my budgeteers didn’t get to go out of town for a Labor Day vacation, especially because of the gas prices, yikes! So, since it’s Sunday (and I’m assuming you’re reading this Sunday because you are so terribly devoted to me) and you’re probably sitting around the house saving money and trolling your friend’s Facebook who did go on vacation, I’m going to give you some tips on how to throw together a budget-friendly, last-minute Labor Day hoopla for Monday!

1. Send out invites via text or Facebook. While some “e-vites” scream of last-minute desperation, poke fun at yourself with a creative bunching of words: “Are you sitting at home? I am too! It’s Labor Day and I have nothing to do. Get out your lawn chairs and your trucker hat too, it won’t be fancy because that’s just how we do. I’ll fire the grill if you BYOB, it’s about to get silly with hot dogs and beef. I’m too poor for chips, so bring those as well, but if you’re broke too, then just bring yourself.”

2. Potluck it, baby! This is South Georgia, not the Hamptons. Labor Day is the Bob Marley of holidays. It’s about good people and good times, not fancy non-paper plates and catering. Provide the main course of burgers and hot dogs, but have your guests bring a side dish, drinks and dessert. Sometimes it’s not just about saving money. You have to save time as well when you’re planning on the fly.

3. If you don’t want to potluck it, keep the menu simple. Hot dogs and hamburgers are always a crowd pleaser and you can get creative by making your own “topping bar” by setting out cheese on a tray and putting chopped onions, diced tomatoes, relish and pickles in separate bowls with serving spoons. For side dishes, don’t get fancy. Put out a variety of chips and maybe some salsa and your good to go. For dessert, nothing says goodbye summer like a cooler full of Otter Pops!

4. Keep decorating to a minimum. If you have the party outside, let the trees be your balloons and the bird poop be your confetti! Who needs fresh flowers when you have all the fresh air you can sniff. However, if you must have the party inside and feel compelled to decorate, you can grab a couple of cheap fresh flower bouquets from a grocery store and spread them out in small disbursements around your party space. You don’t need vases, just use different drinking glasses, old wine bottles, mason jars, or pretty much anything that holds water. Shabby chic is in this year anyway.

5. Make sure to have entertainment for the kiddos. You want the adults to have fun and that means making sure the little boogers aren’t running in the streets playing chicken with oncoming traffic. My advice, go to a dollar store and buy a couple of packs of water balloons. It’s cheap, fun and a great way for the kids to beat the heat while at the same time wearing themselves out.

6. Be sure to have music! Whether you play a burned mix CD, old records or a last-minute iPhone playlist, music is the cheapest way to add pizzazz to any party.

If a party isn’t your thing and you want to enjoy a fun day in the sun, Wild Adventures hosts the Fourth Annual Red, White and You! There will be tons going on inside the park through Monday including a juggler and a K-9 demonstration by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office. Adult admission is $45.99 and child admission is $40.99. Also through Labor Day, Wild Adventures hosts a canned food drive where if you donate one canned food item, you receive one free general admission with the purchase of a regular, full-priced general admission. It’s a great deal when you’re not filling up your gas guzzler or paying for a hotel!

I hope you all have a happy and safe Labor Day!

Be sure to like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanysBudgetDiary. I’m always posting budget tips and tricks on my wall. Also follow me on Twitter @VDT_Brittany.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition