Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Gifts from the Frugally Minded

For the past three weeks or so, I've been getting the same question from my daughter... every day... sometimes three or four times a day... or maybe more, depending on her mood.

Is tomorrow Christmas?

As sweet as it was at first, I do have to admit, once I've answered this question for the 13th time in a day, it starts to be a bit annoying.  But it does serve to remind me that Christmas is sneaking up on me, kinda like an obnoxious little brother who likes to hide behind  the bushes and throw bottle caps at you (yes, Momma, that reference is for you).

My main challenge at Christmas time is coming up with unique, affordable gifts to give my friends and family.  Over the years I've compiled a few ideas on how to address this problem.

Utilize your friends who are more talented than you

I have my talents, but most of them aren't quantifiable.  I'll gladly sing you a song, but it probably won't gift wrap very well.  On the other hand, my sister is a knit-a-holic.  She creates adorable knitted and crocheted items all the time.  Recently, I paid her to make a specialized baby present for my fellow science fiction nerd friends (It was a Jane hat.  You'll only get that reference if you watched Firefly).  It turned out adorable and they loved it. 

It would totally be possible to utilized this same concept for Christmas presents.  Have a friend who's a super scrapbooker?  Pay him to make a small memory book for grandma.  Have a friend who can sew anything?  Pay her to make a couple of adorable throw pillows for your sister.  Know someone who loves to make pottery?  Have her make a vase to match your best friend's living room.  Paying for the supplies and another small amount for their time, it's a win-win!  You'll usually come out MUCH cheaper and definitely more unique than if you just gave them a gift card. 

Channel Your Inner Craft Goddess

I like to think I'm crafty, but in reality, I'm not.  Most of my craft attempts come out looking like they were made by a 4 year old.  Actually, some of my 4 year old daughter's crafts look better than mine do.  But thanks to Pinterest, there are TONS of ideas out there for inexpensive cool stuff.  Here are just a couple of ideas I've found this year, but I'm sure there are directions on how to make some amazing stuff for cheap all over the internet.  You just have to hunt a little.  (WARNING:  If you expect to receive a gift from me this year and want it to remain a surprise, DO NOT click on any of the links below.)

25 Handmade Gifts for Boys
Awesome ideas for the boys in your life!  It even tells you how to make your own real life Angry Birds game!  At the end of the page are links to handmade gifts for girls, women and men!!

Transferring Photos to Wood
This video makes it look incredibly easy!  There are all sorts of ways you could use this technique!

Homemade Soap in Your Crockpot
One batch of soap made in the crockpot would make great gifts for friends and neighbors!  Plus, she has several other adorable ideas on this post!

There are about a bajillion other ideas on Pinterest or Youtube or whatever.  Just get searching!

Give Them A Memory

Most of my best childhood memories are of experiences and not of actual physical gifts.  Get them a membership to a local museum or zoo, which is often pretty reasonably priced and includes multiple admissions.  There are usually multiple levels so you can give as big or as little as you like.  Here are some resources for my local NC friends:

NC Zoological Society
A family membership includes year-round admission for 2 parents and ALL children in their household for only $59.

Marbles Kids Museum
A family membership cost $100, but includes a year's worth of admission for your household and some other really cool benefits!

NC Symphony Orchestra
They offer a really wonderful children's program.  Tickets might seem a little pricey, but purchased in sets for more than one show can lower the cost.  It's a great way to introduce kids to live, classical music. 

The Dreaded Re-Gifting

I'm about to spill my guts about something I haven't admitted to very many people.  I am a re-gifter.  I know, it's not socially acceptable, but I am guilty of it.  Every year, it never fails, that someone in our family receives a gift that he or she isn't particularly fond of.  It's perfectly good stuff, just not something we can use.  I have a large box in my laundry room where I keep this stuff.   It usually consists of jewelry that's not my style or candles in a fragrance I'm not fond of.  Sometimes there are books that I've already own or toys that my kids aren't interested in.  I keep them around for passing along to someone who might like them.  I know it's not considered proper etiquette, but when you're on a limited budget, and want to give a nice gift, I see nothing wrong with passing along something they would appreciate more than you!   It works great for white elephant parties!  There are a couple of important rules, though:

1.  Don't pass along used stuff.  If you've burned the candle to see how it smells, don't regift it.  If you've tried the bodywash, don't regift it.  If you've worn the earrings, don't regift it.  If you're kids have drooled and snotted all over the stuffed animal, don't regift it! 

2.  ABSOLUTELY DO NOT GIVE IT BACK TO THE PERSON WHO GAVE IT TO YOU!!!!  This would be disastrous!  Before an item enters my regifting box, it gets a sticky note with the name of who gave it to me and the date I received it.  If you're not certain where it came from, DON"T REGIFT IT!!!!!

Anyway, those are just some suggestions I have for some unique and inexpensive gifts.  Hopefully, my family will forgive me if they receive something from this post and it's not a surprise.

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