A few weeks back, I mentioned that we were sticking to a very, very small gift budget this holiday season. At a time when US consumers are expected to spend around $983 on holiday gifts, a budget of $57 seems like pocket change. Well, okay, yes…it actually is our pocket change. We emptied out our change container and rolled up all of our coins one morning to find that we had approximately $10 to spend on each person on our list. Angie, being even more of a non-supporter of Christmas consumerism than I am, suggested we forgo gifts altogether. Knowing the reaction this would cause among my family members, I vetoed the idea in favor of thoughtful, handmade gifts and experiences instead.
Our first crafts were soap/washcloth reindeer and snowman jars of foot scrub. Inspired by my niece, who said in an exasperated phone call, “All I want for Christmas is to take a bath by myself and enjoy my Sleepytime tea time in peace!”, we decided to add a few more “spa” items to her gift set – snuggly socks and a variety box of tea bags. The socks cost $1 at Dollar Tree, as did the gift tin. The tea bags worked out to 5 cents each ($1 total for 20 bags). Total cost for one spa experience gift set – $5.26. Adding in a coupon for a free night of babysitting – priceless!
I was particularly excited by the gift we found for my sister. She has been gluten-free for almost 3 years now and has grown tired of the myriad of gluten-free convenience foods marketed at the grocery stores. As she said, she wants to reconnect with her kitchen next year; so she has been on the hunt for new cookbooks (for gluten-free moms on a budget). As luck would have it, I found 2 great cookbooks – one at Dollar Tree ($1) and the other at Ollie’s Bargain Barn ($3.99). While that’s exciting enough, in the midst of my search, I stumbled across an out-of-print book we both loved as children and have been looking for for nearly 20 years now. Cost for this treasure – FREE! Gotta love e-books…and the look on her face when she opens this one!
For the little one, we opted for imagination and learning toys. Based on our observations of what she actually plays with, we bought a set of building blocks ($7.50) and a bag of alphabet magnets ($1.87). Her mom suggested a body pillow (to encourage napping), which was fortuitous since my mom had just given me an entire garbage bag full of “flat” pillows. These were throw pillows that she had been using to pad her favorite chair (which has since moved on to a new home, sans the pillows). On Sunday afternoon, I unstuffed the throw pillows and restuffed them into a toddler-sized body pillow that I made from a hooded blanket we found earlier in the year. (Actually we found 2 of these blankets, brand new, still in the package, in the dumpster back in April.) I almost wish we’d found more. The pillow was super easy to make (and super soft) and everyone who has seen it now wants one of their own.
We also made Christmas cards. They cost nothing except our time, since we already had the supplies at home.
Creative gifting does take time and effort. I will be the first to admit, it’s much, much easier to pass out gift cards or fill up a cart at Walmart but I truly believe gifts should mean more than that. Thankfully, we still have a few weeks to go and a few dollars left in the budget to finish up. We’re tossing around a few other ideas, like:
- A movie night package – popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, and a RedBox code.
- A homemade meal box – ingredients or a gift card to cover the ingredients, a recipe, and a reservation card to “save the date” for a fun day of cooking together.
- A picnic box – same idea as the meal box but instead of a recipe, you include a menu and a location.
- A coupon book of favors like babysitting, watering the plants, giving a ride to an appointment, making dinner, helping with a dreaded chore, etc.
What suggestions do you have?