Happy (almost) New Year! I hope this Column finds you surrounded by family, friends, and fabulous food. Considering we have a solid few days left before 2012 departs for good, I wanted to throw some ideas your way on how we can make the next seven days pack a fabulously productive punch, Frugalista style!

First, let’s talk weather. Who ordered the insane cold, what’s with the wind and rain? If hair frizzing was an Olympic sport, I’d bring home the gold. But hey, it’s winter, best to deal with it, so we’re talking crummy forecasts for the foreseeable future. Have you got a couple of coats in the closet? Long ones, short ones, poofy ones, sleek ones? Ones that you absolutely adore and love and could never part with? Yeah, me too. Push those to the side, and grab at least two (three is better) that have been hanging in the back of your closet in hypersleep for a few years. You haven’t used them, you aren’t going to use them. Well guess what – there’s somebody out there that could definitely use them, and right now, they’re just using up space in your closet. Throw them in a pile, then take fifteen minutes going thru your sweater drawer the same way. Jeans too, if you have the time. Extra points for shoes and boots. Mega extra points if you can get spouse and kids to do the same. Collect everything together (take a moment to marvel at how little time it took) and take the clothes to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or homeless shelter. As fabulous as it feels to help those in need, it doesn’t hurt to discover you’ve just taken the long-unused stuff in your closets and transformed it into a monster tax writeoff. It’s all good.

Then, take a look at your kitchen cupboards. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got cupboards full of food, and yet still go out every week to get more. Sure, some of the stuff we go thru like clockwork each week, like produce, milk, eggs. Then – not so useful – there’s the five cans of creamed corn I bought by accident (thought it was regular), just sitting there, next to the canned salmon that I bought on a lark before I realized it had bones in it (ewwwwww). Sound anything like your cupboards? Grab a box and start throwing things in. Literally, I give you permission to throw. Try it, it’ll feel good – and it will keep other family members away for fear you’ll lob something in their direction. In my box, we had the creamed corn, salmon, 4 boxes of cake mix, canned spinach, 3 boxes of jello, bag of beans, two bags of rice and about 6 cans of evaporated milk. I always evaporated milk at the holidays, convinced it’ll make me look like a fabulous Food Network Chef, certain I’ll get a wild urge to make homemade fudge, only to receive some each year from a marvelous friend who is far better at making that glorious goodness than I ever could be. How fabulous is THAT?! Out the door it goes to the Chester County Food Bank!

There you go, folks. Two of the big necessities in life, food and clothing. Given the latest headlines, I’m feeling over-the-top blessed simply to have two healthy kids running around adoring the holiday. If you’re feeling like your cup is running over at the moment as well, don’t be afraid to show it. Somewhere out there, a person down on their luck who loves outdated poofy coats and creamed corn awaits. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, everybody!