Wednesday, December 1, 2010

WFMW: Holiday Gifting on a Budget!

Works For Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are That Family.  Click on the graphic at the bottom of this post to check it out.

I was hesitant to do this post because there is already just. so. much. good information out there.  But, in the end, I decided that maybe, just maybe one of you would have an "ah ha!" moment, or giggle, or run off and tell everyone what a goober I am... anyway, as long as you're happy, I'm happy.  Right?


In case you're new here, or you just don't pay attention, I have been a stay-at-home-mom since I was pregnant with Punkin'... what's that, now?  Almost six years.  (oh my! how the time does fly).  So money's been tight around here for awhile.  Living on one income requires some creative thinking, especially when it comes to holidays when over-spending can be very easy to do.  I am now also a full-time student which strains the finances even further.  So, being careful about what we spend at Christmas time is vital in our house.  Here's what works for us.

Set a Budget
make it attainable; don't set yourself up for failure.  On the other hand, if you're feeling kind of adventurous, you could be fun to set it a bit lower just to see if you can really cut back. Be realistic, but frugal at the same time.  Don't (please, please don't) spend money you don't have just to buy stuff for people.  If the lack of an expensive present is all it takes to get people upset with you, then you are better off without them.  No, seriously.  {end rant}

Make a list
of everyone that you would like to buy a gift for.  Next, brainstorm things each person likes to do: hobbies, priorities, tastes etc.  Example:  Mama - hobbies include typing incessantly on her keyboard,  a (not so) secret love affair with chocolate, and she's always babbling on about those girls and some dude named Papa. Those hobbies and such can really help you recognize the perfect gift should you stumble across it in the dollar bin (don't scoff, its happened to me before).

Get Crafty 
If you're crafty or you like to bake; if you have children that would enjoy making some of your presents, go ahead and think of things you could make for someone.   I'll include a list of homemade gifts we've given below.  But, here's where you get to be creative!

If you need a present for Grandma, get out the scrapbooking tools, and let the kids make her a calendar (you can have it bound inexpensively at an office supply store).  If your kids are a little older, have them write (or narrate) a story about something they did with Grandma (or fill in the name of special person(s) here) or about why they love Grandma or about what makes Grandma so special!  Type it out for them, or let them write it, and then hand over the pictures, stickers and whatnots so that the kiddos can illustrate it.

My first Christmas with Papa, I took photos of the places we had gone on dates.  I printed and framed them along with a letter to him declaring my undying love and devotion.  That series hangs in our livingroom and reminds us of our history.

Give the Gift of Time
If you're not crafty, or you don't have the time, or you don't think your gift-reciever would like something crafty (who are these people), then consider giving a gift of Time.

Take your best girlfriend out for a cup of coffee and a pedicure (I'm not talking about one of those $100 spa pedicures (unless that's in your budget)).   Print out a little coupon for your friends offering free babysitting for a date night (you could include a gift card here if its in your budget).

My neighbor when I was growing up used to gift the kids in her life a trip somewhere during the summer - like camping.  She'd set it all up and then give them the details at Christmas so they had something to look forward to later in the year.

 I'll tell you right now, my favorite gifts from Papa didn't cost him more than $20 (if that): 1) a coupon book that he printed up for me that included coupons for massages, rainy day cuddle sessions, and dates. 2) Last year he gave me a "date in a box." It included a log for the fire, some cheese and crackers, and a wonderful note.

The most important thing here is creativity and thought.  Anyone can go to a store and buy that CD (does anyone even use those anymore).  Only you can give a gift from your heart.

How We Do It
And here's that list I promised you.

For Acquaintances and Neighbors I do what my Dad did and bake.  A lot.  Cookies, fudge, cookies, divinity, cookies... did I mention cookies?  And then we wrap them up on a plate, in a basket, in jars, and we give them to folks who we want to give something to but aren't particularly close with.

For friends and family: In addition to some of the things I mentioned up there ^, here are some inexpensive gifts we've given in the past

    • Cookies in a jar 
    • Homemade soap - red and white striped with peppermint oil... it was fun, and easier than I thought it would be!
    • Picnic Blankets - yes I sew;  SewMamaSew has some awesome ideas over on their blog. 
    • Massage Oils - Papa is awesome at this!  All you need is some almond oil, some essential oils and a nice container to gift it in.  
    • Infused Olive Oil - Again, Chef Papa is awesome at this.  And, again, all you need is some olive oil, some herbs and a nice bottle to gift it in.  (Be aware, there is a right and a wrong way to do this.  Check out this link for more info and if you choose to use fresh herbs make sure that the recipient knows it needs to be used!)
    • Infused Vodka - Its popular, its yummy and its the perfect gift for your favorite alcoholic  entertainer!  (A search led me to this on the Real Simple website)
    • Homemade apple butter with a loaf of homemade bread
    • A gift basket of homemade jams, jellies and preserves
    • A basket of fresh produce from the garden (or farmers market)
    • Handmade clothes, blankets, and baby toys-n-stuff  (free tutorials can be found with a simple search)
    Wishing you all a budget-friendly and festive Holiday Season!

    That's what works for me!  What works for you?

    **If you have a post, or will have a post, about homemade gifts, gifting on a budget, or creative ideas for gifts, I'd love it if you would link up below!  (this linky list will stay open until the 23rd of December so keep 'em coming!)


    Amie said...

    There they are! Oh, so exciting. Love the links. Thanks for joining us! :)

    Amie said...

    Oh, there's those links! Awesome, I love it. Thanks for joining us! :)


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