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.