The Frugal Catholic: “The Hidden Value of Making Magic in Your Home” by Martha Wild King

As each year of fugal living ticks away, it becomes more important to make your home magical.  Now I’m not talking about  tricks like pulling a live rabbit out of a hat, but about creating an illusion or in this case a reality.

Now when one of my sons, an inventor, first started dating,  he worked hard to make a table that would pop out of the sand combined with chilled champagne  attached to a floating log. That kind of over the top magic was usually too much. The magic I’m referring to is the same wonderful magic we experience at Mass—the use of our five senses to enhance our spiritual worship.

Magic in the home, likewise, employs our five faculties, and what I’ve discovered is that with a  bit of effort on my part, we can live a very frugal lifestyle without sacrificing because of the illusion of magic.


Magic are those rituals you perform for yourself and others often at the end of your day.  It’s the music you flick on, the healthy household plants which stare back at you, the size of the colored or white candles you light, the earthy smell of the incense you ignite, or the questions you  ask of your family and guests. It  is what we do in our domiciles that imparts warmth, light, and enchantment.  Magic draws folks in and makes them feel special, something all of us want. It’s that love nest  we tender for those we cherish.


When we make the time to conjure  an atmosphere in our home, we create  the same feelings we get when we go to a fine restaurant.  Memory-making brings the family back, time and time again, just like the Mass pulls us into the liturgy.  If we look to the scriptures, we can even see how Christ drew his fallen-away disciples back after his resurrection when he made the charcoal fire on the beach and roasted fish to give them. (John 21:8-10)

But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

Christ took the extra time to show His disciples His love.


If you want to live a frugal lifestyle and save, magic is your ticket.  That’s because it makes the home a far better place to be than going out.  And I don’t need to go into how much money you’ll save by staying in versus going out.  Making your home enchanting helps you stay put creatively.


SIGHT— For sight, candles are a good starting point.  Of course the use of candles for your evening meal holds people longer at the table which means more meaningful conversation as any fine dining establishment knows. I use inexpensive dollar candles on my table and freeze them beforehand to keep them from dripping. (The Frugal Catholic June 2016)   I’ve also begun to prefer soy candles scattered around the house even though they are more expensive. The soy wax doesn’t emit a harsh odor as paraffin does so that seems like money well used to me.

Now for sight, you don’t need to employ illusion, just simplicity, like simple lighting.  Great sources of magical lighting are a string or two of white Christmas lights or small night-light table lamps. I use the stringed lights  on the tops of cabinets (they stay plugged in all the time) because they especially give off a warm glow on cold nights. These white lights can also be wound into a plant, or you can get sticks of lights to stick into tall plants. A dimmer over your table works well if you aren’t into candles because lowering the lights creates intimacy and conversation. And finally, don’t overlook the use of small table lamps, the kind that use a small bulb, to keep the evening pleasing. I have found all of my small table lamps at Goodwill Stores or consignment shops.

My friend Dixie Moore even creates magic in our wet Pacific North West winters by turning off all overhead lights and using table and desk lamps instead. She finds that magic are those nice extra little things you do for your children and family, and she states, “We rarely use overhead lights but seem to hunker in with a good book and nice music.”

SOUND—Who doesn’t appreciate music well done within The Sacrifice of the Mass? Good music nourishes the soul; so too, music which you enjoy in the home helps us relax and focus. Even before I understood the value of classical music (see The Frugal Catholic August 2016 )  I regularly had it in the background during home-school, for I found it soothed me and helped our five children concentrate better. Just keep the radio tuned to your local classical station or use Pandora as an easy fix. And don’t overlook the value of a noise machine which has a variety of sounds such as rain, waves, or even spring frogs. These bring much peace of mind and easiness.

Also another thought on sound, is the sound of the questions your family asks during times together. One of the most fun question starters I have found are these great clear plastic boxes full of questions. You really learn about your family member or your guests. The two boxes which I have were purchased from our consignment store are called TABLETOPICS (from Amazon) which can be found for around $25. (I got my TABLETOPIC cards for about $5 each at the consignment store, so do check your local store before buying on line.) At Amazon, look under the subject of “question cards.” You will find a variety to use.

TOUCH—We find touch also in the  Mass with The Sign of Peace when we reach for each others hands. Other tactile items in Mass are the feel of the hymnal in our palms, kneeling, standing, and the Host on our tongues. Likewise in our home, much magic  can be created with soft comfortable pillows or throws over our legs, cloth napkins at dinner, or bamboo or flannel sheets. Touch magic isn’t the prickly, but the soft surroundings we foster.

TASTE—Of course, our taste in Mass is the precious body and blood of Our Lord—a taste that brings spiritual and physical  nourishment. So too must our food provide for our body and soul because you can’t minister to others if you are starving physically or spiritually.

Don’t have enough money for expensive foods? Then serve soups such as freezer bowl soup (The Frugal Catholic October 2010) , or try Courtney Cotton’s “Put an Egg on It” (The Frugal Catholic February 2017) Also check out this link which Courtney recently sent me regarding “Put an Egg on It” for additional ideas. (see Simple stir fries or even a potato frittata works wonders. For good inexpensive recipes see The USDA Cost of Food at Home Recipes  Plan those tasty inexpensive meals, and use up what you have in the refrigerator. We have saved thousands over our nearly 40 years of homemaking by practicing frugal eating at home. It is time and money well spent.

SMELL—Ever notice how some church Masses smell better than others? Then don’t overlook the power of smell to produce magic. Employ incense if you like it, or add some fresh flowers into the home,  a green plant to clean the air, or an herbal oil heater or an  essential oils diffuser. And as I stated before, soy candles smell much better when burning than paraffin ones, so do consider them.

Magic is all around us in God’s beautiful creation, and likewise it is in The Sacrifice of the Mass where heaven and earth meet, a foretaste of the beauty and glory to come as described in Revelations.  Let God weave His beautiful magical fabric of love  into your home.   You’ll be glad you did.

Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less