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Holiday gifts on a budget


heidiiiii
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I know that many are really stressing over the fact that December is fast approaching. I thought we could help each other think of creative, thoughtful, and inexpensive ways to give gifts this year.

Both of my girls know that there will be no electronics or big ticket items under the tree this year. One way that I am going to save money is on books. Chelsea loves to read. She does like to read new books that have just come out but she also likes to read books that are already out there.

I buy the majority of her books at the used book store. Instead of paying $10-30 for a brand new book I can buy her the exact one used for $1-4. She has told me that a book is a book. As long as she has it, does not matter if it was owned by someone else.

Natalie loves music. Instead of spending money on individual CDs that she will just put on her i-Pod anyway, I can buy her a $15 iTunes card and she can pick and choose the music she wants to put on it.

Every time we go out to breakfast (once a month) Fred and I like to go next door to the pawn shop to look around. He is always looking at the watches. I KNOW exactly which one he wants. If it is still there when I go shopping, he will get that nice big watch..It will cost me a small fraction of what it retails.

My former neighbor loves to have big lobster dinners in the summer. On clearance I was able to find her a set of 4 lobster plates (with instructions on how to crack), 4 re-usable lobster bibs, and 4 glass cups for butter. The whole set cost me less then $5.

Let`s give each other ideas on what to make, alternatives that are cheaper, and tightwad ideas that will make this holiday season easier on our wallets and our minds.

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$20 Canadian-A kit to make homemade soap(kit includes the melt and pour soap,fragrance,colour and soap molds)-Michaels

If you know how to knit,how about homemade toques & scarves

A gift certificate for your favorite mini store

Homemade cookies

Home made cards kit

A coupon book for a new parent with certificates for a hour of babysitting,a homecooked meal,etc

Hope there are more suggestions out there,in this day and age we need ways to give gifts without breaking the bank or taking out a second mortgage on the house.

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Me and my wife likes to make homemade bath soaps. Its really cheap and you can make them any color or sent you want.

All you need is some epsom salt, perfume samples or soap sents and food coloring. mix in a storage bag and put into some decorative glass containers and there you go.

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One year I did "Dinner and a movie for two" packages. I bought large, inexpensive ceramic pasta bowls and filled them with a box of spaghetti noodles, a jar of homemade sauce, a can of parmesan cheese, small french rolls, inexpensive cloth napkins, a candle and a DVD movie suitable to the person/s taste in films. I wrapped them in the Christmas cellophane you buy in rolls (Dollar stores have them) and tied with pretty ribbons. Baskets work well too. I buy them 50% off when I can at Michael's and such and fill them with themed items like a bottle of wine, wine glasses and the dinner idea above or various bath and candle items picked up on sale for a "Spa themed" basket. I love doing baskets - and everyone I have given one to seems thrilled at getting a bunch of little goodies in one package. They don't cost a fortune, and are so easy to personalize.

For my (then) teenaged nieces - I bought inexpensive cork bulletin boards (about $10.00) and purchased those large bags of assorted plastic gold/silver buttons sold at Michael's - clipped the button backing off with sharp clippers and hot-glued them all around the edge of bulletin boards. I used some of those flat glass beads you buy in mesh bags every so often for shimmer here and there. My nieces were thrilled and teenage girls always seem to be looking for someplace to display their photos, memorabilia, etc.

This is a great thread to start Heidi!! Can't wait to see all the ideas that come up as I am sure looking for new ways to save for the holidays!! :giggle:

Chris

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There was a story in the paper about a the new *it* toy of the holiday season. They are marbles that turn into action figures and kids can trade them with others. They are called Bakugan and they only cost $5.

Get a couple for your kid and it does not cost alot. You can even throw in a bag of real marbles. I used to give the girls certain things when they were younger. A set of Jacks each (loved that game) and a Chinese Jump Rope. Cheap Cheap Cheap!

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To my elderly friends and relatives I give little things like a coffee cup with a pk for single serving of coffee and a spoon covered in chocolate. Makes great chocolate coffee. along with this for my relatives I include a ticket for me to give them a free pedicure. The pedicure gives them two gifts. I do their toe nails which are often hard for the elderly to do themselves plus I am spending time with them which often times is the bigger gift.

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Last year my grandma had a bunch of fabric so she made each of us girls personal blankets for when you watching TV and the coolest thing about them is they fold up into itself like a blanket pillow so you can keep it on the couch. I gotta say I love that thing.

This year rumor has it she is knitting us dish cloths. :giggle: go grandma go grandma

There are also scarves & hats which are pretty easy and look nice for those who live up north.

Ohh and if you are feeling mini you could make fridge magnets, pins for sweaters or make a mini scene out of that old chipped tea cup you have lying around. I did one once and turned it on its side and glued it to the saucer and with freebie printies I made a potting shed with vines and plants around it. hmm may have to make another one of those.... Yeah this is helping me with ideas !!!

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My mother LOVED when I would buy her postage stamps for Christmas. I would also buy her a year subscription to the local newspaper. Both of these gifts do not collect dust and they saved her money.

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since I started drawing a few years ago, some friends and family have asked for artwork. I've never felt my work was good enough, but the butterflys and moths I've done lately have looked nice scanned/shrunk and printed on notecards. I've done about 6 of the critters and have liked them enough that I'm going to give them as gifts to my sister in laws/friends and coworkers. I enjoy making them! I can get the blank stationary and envelopes from A C Moore with a coupon discount, so they aren't very expensive.

One year my brother and sister in law copied a bunch of old family photos and put them on a disc for us. It was a great gift!

Several years ago I made a personal 'gift' to myself and thought about things I've regretted not doing. It seemed like a ridiculous thing to carry through life and so I decided to do something about a few. I wrote a holiday note to a cousin who had been estranged from our side of the family. No one could remember what had caused the rift, so I just wrote a letter asking how she was and that I hoped we could reconnect. I had no idea what would happen, but I got a chatty letter back. We aren't close and don't live near each other, but we now catch up in letters at Christmas. I'm glad I did it.

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oh, and I forgot to mention another idea I'm doing for my nieces. I'm making mini closets for them out of inexpensive shadowbox frames from the hobby store. The ones I'm using are unfinished pine that look roughly 5x7 (interior) and 2 inches deep. The one I made for Diana had shelves/ clothes rod and a chest of drawer (used tiny rectangular cardboard boxes from the decoupage area of ACM for the drawers) with a mirror above. I have lots of craft paints, scraps of 'too small to be useful/too large to toss out' wallpapers, and wood scraps. I can personalize them with things I know they enjoy like tiny books, small items from the scrapbooking area of ACM. I made a small dresser tray out of a mirror and 'perfune bottles' out of beads. There are so many nice freebie printies on the web for adding to this. My youngest son even made tiny clothes hangers out of wire. Since My niece Katherine is in college, I'm making her's to look like a dorm room desk and dresser. I have a paper pizza box, books, a tiny wooden microwave and some college pendants.

I used one of these shadow box frames to make the 1/2 scale brick front store that I have a picture of in my gallery under 'other houses'.

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Well i never spend much I start shopping on dec, 26, On the cruise I got some some really nice jewelry for free, good stuff to most of it so my sisters done, So take a cruise people!! My mom got a village thing she collects them reg 120.00 I got it for 15.00!! On clearance. Shop when there is sales!! I am going half and half with one of my sisters for my dads xmas gif a good ladder, I can't stand the one we have. :giggle: pun intended.

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Since I've been going out with Chris I've had to come up with Christmas/birthday ideas for his family. All my relatives live in America or Germany/Denmark, and since we were about 12 we haven't done christmas presents, so I haven't had to think of any really. It'd be reasonably easy to give dvds or books or computer games, but I want to make presents personal. I feel bad just giving them something I can easily buy, that millions of people will also be getting for christmas.

But then I also wonder, shouldn't I just get them something like that? Its something they want and much easier for me.

A couple christmases I've made them each some peppermint creams. Just powdered icing sugar, water and some flavouring. I've also done lemon flavour or orange flavour creams. After they have dried out a bit you can dip them in melted chocolate (dark, milk, white, totally or half dipped...). They're yummy, homemade and cheap. You can put them in a nice celophane bag, or a little box.

Also made nice biscuits to put in a bag, and another time made some fudge.

Then if I've given something personal like that which was relatively cheap to make, I can buy them something relatively cheap and easy to pick out (like a dvd), and have enough for a decent present.

I think now that Chris and I are living together it'll be easier to give them presents from both of us, rather than me trying to think of something by myself.

I like this thread idea! :giggle:

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I am still working on the ideas, but I had to share my FANTASTIC bargain. Ever year, hubby and I stress over what to get his dad. This year is gonna be different. Last week at work, I was clearing off a top shelf in our seasonal area of the store. I was getting everything ready for the Christmas things we were getting in. As I climbed the tall ladder to reach, I found a box that contained a 12 inch cast iron bell and the hardware to attach it to a very sturdy wall. This thing weighs a ton. I noticed the price as $50 but since it was a spring item, I knew it would be lower. When I checked, it was $5.00! Yep, you read that right. Five whole dollars. I snatched that box so fast I almost fell of the ladder. I actually had to get one of the guys there to get it down safely. Yep! I am a happy camper right now. It is sitting in the bedroom just waiting for Christmas. Anyways, back to the ideas. I have always enjoy giving inexpensive bird feeders and some bird seed to people I think would enjoy them. I have made some bead necklaces that I think my sisters-in-law would wear. I have the things to make matching earrings if I want to. Making things out of Fimo or Sculpey is also an inexpensive way to have some nice little gifts. I make mushroom shaped incense holders and came up with a design of my own for a little guy (I call him Mudge) who will also hold a stick incense. This is a great thread!!

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I've made gift "baskets" (usually in some other container, but one year for the heckuvit, in actual ornamental baskets!) and snuggly afghans and I don't know what-all. Now that the two older kids make more money each than DH & ever did, put together, I send them lots of love because that's something I always have more than enough to give!

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I do not know about most kids but mine loved getting a nice new box of Crayola Crayons every year. Add some coloring books, craft paper, stickers from the $1 store, and some Elmer`s glue sticks. The kids will have something to enjoy on those days when they are bored.

Mmmm! Love the smell of a freshly opened box of crayons.

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Well the retailers would hate me if they knew, but I think that buying christmas gifts for everyone you know and every family member is a bunch of glop. I stopped years ago. I buy a gift for my parents and that's it. DH and I don't exchange gifts - we buy what we want all year. I don't buy for the kids - I give them stuff as they need it (like I'm going to say, sorry your hot water heater went out. I will buy you a new one for christmas in 4 months. Cold showers build character). For friends we get together for a pot luck breakfast. If I feel the need to give a gift, I make cookies. Talk about a stress free holiday!! Tell someone you love them. Think what a great gift that would be. Shovel someones snow when they don't expect it. Babysit for someone who still partakes in retail havoc so at least the kid will have fun that day.

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I started a trend in our family last year. A friend of mine was having a rough Xmas - she'd lost her job and her dad within a week of each other right before December, and she's pretty much a hermit but with an 18 hour drive, a visit wasn't possible! So instead I went to the area dollar stores and bought 25 dollar store items - individually wrapped them with goofy comments about why I'd bought each one. Packed them all in a box and shipped them down as a one-a-day advent calendar. She was over the top thrilled, because it was essentially her Xmas that year.

My dad followed suit and gave the same white elephant type gifts in a big box to everyone. People got a kick out of it because he is SO not a gift giver for the sake of a commercial holiday. Highly entertaining to watch the grimaces when they unwrapped confetti poppers and other cheesy gifts!!

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I am making fleece blankets this year. Nothing real exciting, but boy are they cozy! I'm making a Steelers one for my son, and my older daughter wants one, too. Not sure what hers is going to be yet. If anyone on your wish list likes candles, they have gel candle kits at Michaels. They are easy to make and you can use an old glass or other such container and make any scent you want. I've also knitting skinny scarves, quick and easy even for a beginner like me! I also like the gift baskets, they are fun to personalize!

This is a great topic! Thanks for bringing it up Heidi!

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We are doing a "Thanksmas" with my sister, brothers and their families this year. (little background, Dad had fifteen kids with four different wives) Since Dad has been gone for so long, I thought that pictures would be a great gift for my sister and brothers. I'm going to make little books, with stories about the kids he had with my Mom, my memories of him, etc. We're making marshmallow guns for the boys, out of pvc, which isn't too expensive. Haven't decided what to do for the girls yet, but I'm thinking I'll go with pictures since both of them love pictures. I've been going to yard sales looking for baby things for Sonny. just have to decide what to do for my hubby and kids. Last year, we all chipped in towards "big gifts" for each other - dvd players for two of them, cd player for the youngest, drill set for Jer and they got me a beautiful jewelry box with pictures frames inside the doors. I loved it!

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Chris' birthday is Dec 12th, and being at uni I couldn't really afford much (Dec 12th birthday, 25th christmas, Jan26th anniversary, then Feb 14th.) So I made him an advent calender too, with a little present for each day. One time i got a little stationary set for a couple dollars and that did me for about 7 days. a pack of candy canes does a few days... On his birthday and Christmas day he'd get something a little bit more expensive, but not much, as the whole thing was his present. This way I can also save bits all year long. Which reminds me I better start gathering! Once I've done this tradition for 5 years I can't really stop it now I can potentially afford more :idiot:

He had an Indiana Jones leather hat which he loved, but unfortunately lost it a couple years ago. So last year for his birthday present I gave him a miniature pewter hat, and then for christmas gave him a real sized leather one.

Some more ideas of things to put in the calender: pack of choc bars or ferrero roche (eg do one for 1st advent sunday, 2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, etc.) lollipops, pack of cards, gift vouchers (eg for a nice homecooked meal, or washing up when it is his turn, or cinema trip etc). A set of books (a book a day), a kit to build a wooden dinosaur, a pair of socks, a picture of us/pets/family/filmstar, a pot of paint, a paintbrush....

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This is great..I am glad I thought of it.

If you are tight on the budget you can give your close family filled stockings (or some alternative for other december holidays).

We dont even have a fireplace but these girls want me to fill their stockings! They love the novelty of what I pick for them.

New toothbrushes

New hair elastics

chocolates (kisses, hersheys minis, etc)

socks

makeup

Things that they need. Then I would add silly things that I would find on the cheap. Like those plastic cows that poop chocolate pellets, mini set of tarot cards, things with their names on them...dollar store stuff.

Last year I realized the neither one of them still had a key to the house (geez)..so they each received a new house key with a nice key chain in their stockings.

One of the things I found for this year I bought on school supply clearance. Those insulated water bottles that you fill up with your Brita water pitcher. Originally $9 each..I got them for $1.50 each.

There has been many a year when under the tree was not that plentiful but they always had their stockings.

With younger kids you can fill with the jacks, chinese jump rope, silly putty, and dollar store stuff.

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