Friday, December 3, 2010

Have Yourself an (Inexpensive) Christmas

We're constantly cutting costs around here.  But around the holidays, it can be difficult to resist the screams of "BUY! BUY! BUY!" from ads in the newspaper, online, and even through e-mails.  I've gotten fairly good at ignoring the hype.  For instance, when I got an e-mail promising me free shipping instantly if I spend $100 or more, I instantly trashed the file.  $100 on what?  Kitchen gadgets and sheets I don't need?  No, thanks!

So in a very Scrooge-like spirit toward marketing gurus and the various wares they hawk, here are a few inexpensive gift ideas this Christmas:

1. I found a recipe for homemade Christmas ornaments here.  These would be fun to make with kids, and since grandparents like anything little hands make, why not make it part of a Christmas basket full of other artwork and goodies?  And that basket?  Go buy one for 25 cents at the thrift store and paint it, should the spirit move you.

2. Do any canning this year?  Jams, jellies, apple butter and the like are always popular gifts.  If you didn't make any, check out a local farm or country store for such items.  Dress up the jar with a pretty, scrap piece of fabric and some ribbon from your stash or in the remnant pile at the fabric store.

3. I've gotten Gifts in a Jar before and love them!  What a handy way to bake something when you need it for a last-minute party or (as in my family's case) craving.  Click here for ideas galore, or click here for Three-Way Hot Cocoa Mix, which will last the recipient for much of the season...especially if you double it.

4. For the kids, I try to go for quality over quantity.  A friend of mine once said she was going to try to stick with three gifts per child, representative of the three gifts the Wise Men brought Jesus.  I limit fad toys, such as the latest Disney Princess and whatnot, and try to buy gifts that will stimulate their creativity.  This includes classic building toys (e.g., Legos and Tinker Toys), costumes (post-Halloween sales are helpful here), craft supplies (good stocking stuffers, especially if you go through as many crayons as we do), books on CD, and classic books I can read to them now but that they'll be able to read in a few years.  The Little House on the Prairie series and Chronicles of Narnia are good examples. 

5.  Finally, Byron and I forgo buying each other gifts.  The past couple years, we've gotten each other something small with the kids, so that they have the opportunity to give and not just receive.  If there's something "big" that is teetering on our family's want/need line, we'll try to find a good deal around the holidays.  In years past, our MP3 player and portable DVD player (purchased primarily for survival purposes on a very long flight with the kids), have fallen into this category.


  1. I follow several blogs that do giveaways, and enter them when gifts seem appropriate. I've won several of the gifts we will be giving this year to relatives/friends. I'm also thinking of making a big sensory tub for Pierce. Tupperware full of horse grain (we have it on hand) with a bunch of trucks and maybe some plaster of paris mountains built inside. Course, this is dependent on me finding the time to do it - which is hit or miss.

  2. I've yet to enter a giveaway, but it's in the back of my mind to try out soon. I also need to figure out Swagbucks...that seems like a great way to save.

  3. Swagbucks is overrated. Let me know if you want to do it though, and don't have someone else referring you (I can give you my name and get points). I did cash mine in for a $25 Amazon certificate recently. But it took almost a year.
    On the giveaways, the biggest thing I won was a Nintendo DSi! But I've also won a cookbook, journal set, cloth diaper w/ wet bag, mastermind game, book, children's frog towel, onesie, bento supplies, pillow, and 'mom' cards. Plus a few other odds and ends. I've found the the blog giveaways do have good odds :-) Oh, and I'm doing a giveaway this weekend for my upcoming blogiversary (just a few things I got last year after Christmas clearance, but check it out!)

  4. Thanks for the heads up on Swagbucks. If I join, I'll let you know so I can sign up under you. Good timing on the giveaway - I'll have to check it out!

  5. I have to disagree about swagbucks. I use it as my search engine & in the past 9 months have acquired enough points to get $35 worth of amazon GC. Not bad for doing nothing. Now they have coupons that you can print & if you coupon, 10 pts per coupon redeemed.

    Another good & inexpensive gift is a family portrait or portraits of your children. You can get decent frames at yard sales, thrift stores or at stores like Marshalls or TJMaxx for a pretty good deal.

    I have made vanilla extract in the past as gifts too.

  6. Delia - I do portraits every year of the kids to use as gifts and have been meaning to blog about it. Good idea for frames, and I'd love the recipe for vanilla extract to share on the blog!