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?