The Gift of Thrift

About a month ago, my mom announced that she would like to try something different for Christmas this year. I hate to say it, but I was a little apprehensive. Last year, her idea of different included a lot of baking. Though I love her desserts, there are only so many that I can eat at one time. Imagine my relief (and surprise) when she said that she would like to skip buying individual gifts this year and play Dirty Santa instead.

Before we moved back to TN, Angie and I had all but stopped exchanging gifts. Instead, we would stuff a stocking for each other, full of edible goodies and fun items, like fuzzy socks and Groupons for date night. Since we’ve been here though, Christmas has been a production and at times, it has been overwhelming for us. Mom’s idea for Dirty Santa is the perfect compromise. Her rules are simple: we each have a $15 budget to buy 3 useful items. On Christmas Day, we will draw numbers to see who goes first and we each get one chance to steal.

Angie and I put on our thinking caps and came up with a list of items that might be deemed “useful” before we set out to shop. We went to one store – Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. We spent one hour in that store. We came out with six very useful gifts: bath towels, kitchen towels, cloth napkins, soup mugs, bamboo utensils, and wool socks. These are things that all of us use almost every single day so what could be more useful than that? We spent $29.89 (not including tax).

For our extended family – the ones who aren’t coming to the Dirty Santa party – I made gifts. Yes, even after being made fun of by some of these same folks last year, I made them a gift.

I made fun soup bowl cozies from a pattern I found at Happy Hour Stitches. The cloth came from a yard sale over the summer ($3 for 2 yards).

I made coffee mug sleeves (and even included a reusable Dollar Tree coffee cup and coaster). That pattern came from Skip to my Lou. The cloth was a remnant from a flannel blanket we picked up at Goodwill for $1.99 to recover our camping pillows.

I made hats…a whole lot of hats! This is just a small fraction of them. Not one single skein of yarn was purchased at a store. They all came from yard sales and none cost more than 50 cents. The hats that don’t go to family members will be donated to the Rescue Mission.

Angie made hemp jewelry. We did buy the hemp and charms at a craft store. Total cost = less than $10 for a dozen bracelets and necklaces.

My mom even got into the spirit and made muscadine jam from the grapes we picked on our vacation in October.

Our most expensive gift this year was a coat for our great-niece. It was on clearance at Sam’s Club and happened to be an exact color match for the purple hat I made her. It cost $6.81. For the other little kids in our family, we bought art supplies at Dollar Tree. No matter how many popular gadgets and toys they have, kids still love to cut, color, and glue things.

I don’t expect the big spenders in my family to change their opinion about gifting but we don’t intend to stray from ours either. Each gift was selected or made with thoughtfulness and love, which we believe is something far more valuable than money.

For more thrifty gifting ideas, check out Thinking Outside the Gift Box and Thrifty Gifting – Part 2.

What thrifty gift ideas do you have for this holiday season?

Spending Time with Ticky

We have the honor of babysitting our great-niece this week. It’s been nearly 7 months since she moved away and we’ve only seen her once in that time (except by video chat). Boy has she grown! At 3 years old, she’s quite independent, and quite the character. I don’t think we have laughed (or fought back laughter) this much in months. Since she’s been here, she’s been quite the helper. She fed the cat, loaded the dishwasher, gave Nanny her medicine, and made sure Angie had the right toys for the shower. In case you don’t know, adults need two ducks, not one, when we take baths. She has also made us an assortment of meals in her kitchen, from Lego pizzas to strawberry soup. They were all delicious.

Addison is here this week while her mom is “getting her a new baby brother”. Baby brother, Tristen, was delivered Monday afternoon at Vanderbilt, weighing in at 7 pounds 11 ounces. It will be a while before he comes home though. His heart is “broken”, Addison says. I suppose that’s accurate. He has a hole in his heart and some complications with his pulmonary artery. He will be having surgery next week. We have faith that this little fighter will be alright. His mom and sister love him very much.

We took big sister to see him yesterday and she was quite excited, telling everyone on the elevator that she had a new baby brother. He even opened his eyes for her, something he hadn’t done for anyone else. When I asked her what kind of eyes he had, she said, “Two.” You gotta love little kids!

With all that has been going on this week, I haven’t thought much about minimalism or food waste or frugal living. Instead I’ve been concentrating on family and enjoying this time with my “best friend” (Addison said that too). I will return to writing next week with our Thrifty Gifting post for 2018. Have a great week!

**In case you’re wondering about the title, my mom started calling Addison by the nickname Ticky when she was just learning to talk. She would come up to people and say “ticky, ticky, ticky” as she tried to tickle them. The name stuck and so did the tickling. She still tickles us at least 10 times a day and still says “ticky, ticky, ticky” while she’s doing it.