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The holiday season can be stressful, not just because you run the risk of getting the tip of your nose clipped off by a rogue mistletoe drone down at the TGI Fridays, but because your wallet can take a serious beating as a result of holiday cheer (read: capitalism). By the time party season is in full swing, it’s likely you’ll have gotten REAL SCROOGED OVER financially. HOWEVER, that shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice the joys of entertaining and/or being entertained. What to do, then?

Fortunately for you, I am well-versed in the ways of how to be poor, which is why I have taken the liberty of preparing this very easy (very CHEAP) DIY guide to preparing a holiday punch (and “artisanal” ice!) that will fool people into thinking you are (slightly) less destitute than you actually may be.

What kind of punch will we be making, you ask? As a mega-fan of cranberries (the band and the food), we are gonna CRAN IT UP with this punch // CRANBERRY EVERYTHING, FOREVER.

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  • At least one bottle of cranberry juice (I used Ocean Spray, $2.99 on sale at CVS)
  • Whole fresh cranberries ($1.99 from Trader Joe’s)
  • Two or more Budweiser CRAN-BRRR-ITAS (yes, we are going there // $2.49 a can at CVS)
  • A takeout soup container and/or ice cube tray (hopefully free if you already have it)
  • Water (tap is free and fine, but I am like that little girl from Signs when it comes to water quality, so $1.09 from Food Bazaar)

(This is putting us at about the ten dollar mark per batch, which will likely hold out much longer than your standard six-pack of beer and/or bottle of wine…)

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Let’s also just take an opportunity to examine the bizarre majesty that is the CRAN-BRRR-ITAS can…just listen to the NAME, CRAN-BRRR-ITAS! That name made me think about CRAN-BRR-ITOS, which made me think it would be delicious to combine cranberries with pork carnitas, which made me Google that to see if it’s a real thing, and do you know what? IT IS. CRAN-BRRR-ITAS, teaching things // shortening lifespans via 8% ABV + artificial flavoring! I also purchased the CRAN-BRRR-ITAS (no, I won’t stop all-caps’ing that) at CVS at 1pm today, because when you booze in a way that is fun and festively flavored, no one can judge you:

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Before we get started with the “instructions”, let me just say that I am a firm believer that the only mistakes in alcohol come AFTER you have consumed the beverage, not before or during, so while I would personally recommend the ratio of two cans of CRANBRRRITAS to one bottle of juice, it is entirely up to you to decide how boozy you want it. (You should also take into account the number of people who’ll be sipping this, and the capacity of your punch bowl // pitcher // etc.)

Similarly, if you know from the get-go that you don’t like cranberries, that’s totally cool! Choose another kind of juice that you DO like, and another cheap tallboy variety, like, say, I don’t know, $1.49 cans of PBR (that USED to be $0.99, thanks a LOT, Food Bazaar) instead, and then pick another kind of fruit or fresh herb to add to the ice (like thyme, lemon slices, etc.) and you’re all set! But because I am running the show for now, we will continue down the path of cranberry glory RIGHT NOW.

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The actual process of making the ice is super easy to do; just take a handful or two of your fresh whole cranberries (washed, I hope!) and place them into a (washed, I hope!) takeout soup container. Cover the cranberries with two to three inches of water, cover tightly with the lid, and place in the freezer for a few hours, checking back after about one and a half to two hours to turn the container over so that the lidded side is now resting face-down; the cranberries float, so after the top layer of ice has solidified but is still liquid underneath, rotating the container is an easy way of dispersing the cranberries throughout the entire block of ice. Let the rotated ice set for another few hours.

The finished ice will go directly into the punch bowl after you’ve mixed the remaining ingredients (read: the booze and the juice, easy peasy) and will look super beautiful. Alternatively, you can place one to three cranberries into each chamber of an ice cube tray(s) and then cover with water to freeze; you can put the resulting cubes in an ice bucket for guests to put in their drinks, which (again) will look super pretty, AND will likely set you up with a longer-lasting punch batch due to physics or whatever.

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Right around party time, you’ll want to 1. mix your punch, and 2. add the ice to the prepared batch. Depending on the size of your punch bowl (or pitcher, whatever it may be), you’re going to want to fill it with a two-to-one (CRAN-BRRR-ITAS cans to juice bottle) ratio, though you might want to taste as you go to see if it’s to your liking. Leave some room for your ice (which you should have removed from its container at this point to add to the mix) and then SERVE!

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Put the punch in a prominent place where all of the party guests will be able to see and be seen; this will prevent any #SNEAKYSALLIES from overindulging (read: stealing all of the cranberry goodness and consequently ruining lives, either via intoxication and/or booze diminishment), because there will be a mild sense of people-might-judge-me-if-I-go-back-for-too-many-glasses. You should also be sure to use dainty (which is me saying “small” in a more appealing way) cups (no Solo situations) to keep the boozin’ at a slow ‘n steady pace. (If you are going, “Jeez, Megan, you sure are a stingy asshole!” then I am going, “Ummm hi, WE ARE POOR, REMEMBER?!” So be as sneakily stingy as you WANT.)

And there you have it! Your friends will be hugely impressed by your festive alcoholism, and you will have managed to serve them a seemingly fancy drink on a mega-budget. If anyone asks about the ingredients, you can either own the fact that you just beat the system by forcing everyone to unwittingly drink malt liquor, or you can make up whatever the fuck you want; the beauty of Christmas Crack Juice is that no one will question your methods, slash will accept whatever answer you choose to give them re: origins. (Just don’t invite Billy Cosby to the party…probably not a good look.)

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