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2011 Frugal Xmas (and other holidays)

post #1 of 98
Thread Starter 

It's been a long time since we had a good "frugal holidays" thread. And since it's less than 95 days to xmas I figure it's a good time to start this!

 

We used to have a TON years ago! Please feel free to share your cool and cheap ideas and post a link to any of the "old" threads you loved!

 

What are you doing this year to save?

 

 

 

 

And I always post this each year:

 

(On giving four gifts for the holiday's... supposedly an old Victorian tradition)

 

 

 

Something you want
Something you need
Something to play with
Something to read

 

post #2 of 98
Last year we made vanilla extract. We found a great deal on vanilla beans on Ebay. Cheap vodka that is filtered through a Brita filter a few times is equal to medium shelf vodka, like Stoli. We cut open several beans per quart jar, and filled with vodka to steep for a couple months. Then we found a local warehouse that sold nice amber glass bottles for a really good price. We filled the jars, added a bow and labels we printed, and gifted to extended family and friends. Close family got a larger bottle along with some other goodies. It ended up being pretty affordable for us.

This year, we still have beans left that need to be used up. I am thinking about making vanilla sugar. We can get a big bag sugar at Sam's, and maybe some natural sugar as well. Put in a container, and voila! It is great for baking or adding to drinks.

Prior to having DD, we made flavored vodka for friends. We filtered cheap vodka like above, and then added fruit or candy to flavor. My favorite was made with green apples and some cinnamon sticks. It tasted like apple pie.
post #3 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thystle View Post

 

 

Something you want
Something you need
Something to play with
Something to read

 



We do this too. I like it so much better than regular gift giving/shopping.

 

So far, I've been saving up my amazon cards from Swagbucks. I've actually bought a few things here and there on amazon, so I only have $10 saved. But hopefully by Nov I'll have more. I've got 2 kids 4 & 2 and DF to buy for.. and my baby is due sometime before Xmas, but newborns don't really open Xmas presents, lol.

post #4 of 98

I'm just going to list things off the top of my head right now and probably come back later to the thread.

 

We strive for simple holiday decor.  I find inspiration from Colonial/ rustic decor.  My front door will be decorated w/ a burlap cone filled w/ evergreen, holly, and pine boughs from my yard and neighborhood.  I also put the boughs around the house as decor.  My table centerpiece will probably be a bowl of fruit pomanders the kids and I make for the season w/ oranges and cloves, hand me down candleholders, and beeswax candles we roll ourselves.  We cut our tree from a farm and the decorations are mostly homemade; we add at least 1 new type of handmade ornament a year.  This year I think we're stringing popcorn and cranberries.  A  couple rolls of holiday ribbon from Target goes a long way for us and is reused every year (bought them in 2003).  A couple baskets filled w/ pinecones and a candle warmer w/ a mason jar of water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppermint, and citrus peels and I call it done.

 

For gifts, I try to stick w/ consumable or practical.  This yr my kids are getting 18oz klean kanteens w/ a felted water bottle carrier I knit for them.  I'm also making them each a rag quilt for added warmth on their beds, and knitting each a wool hat.  They'll each be getting 1 store bought present (DH's insistence), probably Playmobil or Lego sets.  I try to stick w/ mostly handmade for extended family, too.  Knit socks, fingerless mitts, knit hats w/ funky designs.  Last year for the grandparents, my kids made tea light jars.  We took baby food jars(collected from one of DH's coworkers who had a baby), watered down glue, and red and green tissue paper (I save tissue paper from gifts).  Tore up the tissue into pieces and decorated the jars.  Put homemade beeswax tealights in and done.  Grandparents loved them and they were so simple.

 

We strive for more experiences than "stuff".  I think we'll be "elf-ing" neighbors this year w/ homemade candles or goodies, we try to go look at Christmas lights around, we went caroling last year w/ our church's youth group, we helped pack Salvation Army food boxes, and this year we're going to do Operation Christmas Child through our church.  Some of these may not be "frugal" b/c they cost us some money, but they're teaching our kids service, giving, and compassion to others who are struggling or not as fortunate as we have been.

post #5 of 98

I'm not much help, but here are our plans. 

 

DD 5yo - I have been watching for gifts all year at thrift shops and online on sale. So we are mostly covered - I would like to get her a bike but I am not holding my breath. I also signed her up for Blue Santa {toys from police} this year, so she will get at least a few new things. I have a lot of new books for her, thanks to scholastic book clubs {we get to order as home educators}. FYI the november catalogs for scholastic are FULL of great books for christmas gifts and not too pricey. 

 

Activities - DD is in girl scouts, so we will likely do caroling with them on the riverwalk. We also plan to make cookies for a program they have - the cookies get donated to the wounded warrior center in town. We will also hopefully go to Light The Way, which is an annual christmas lighting ceremony with music and hot chocolate that doesn't cost anything. Our tree is a fake one, and we already have everything to go on it, so no cost there. 

 

Other than that - nothing. We really don't have any other family to give gifts to, which helps cut our costs way down. 

post #6 of 98
post #7 of 98
Another thing I wanted to add were the "Woodies" I made for DD. (That's what she calls them.) Art stores sell little wooden figures that sort of look like people or chess pieces. They're pretty inexpensive at 3 for $1-2. I made her 40 or so, painting after she went to bed. You can go as intricate you'd like. If you're into Waldorf or don't paint much, leave them very simple. If you paint some, personalize the pieces. I made a little firefighter that looks just like her uncle in his uniform, baseball players, families of different ethnicity and ages, etc. I sealed with a waterproof varnish, since I used acrylic art paint. I found a paper mache house box at Michael's for a couple dollars, and painted it to look like a little cottage. The box was able to store all of the dolls when I was done. The dolls were her main gift that year, and she LOVED them. Those dolls went everywhere with us for months.
post #8 of 98
post #9 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by frugalmama View Post

I'm not much help, but here are our plans. 

 

DD 5yo - I have been watching for gifts all year at thrift shops and online on sale. So we are mostly covered - I would like to get her a bike but I am not holding my breath. I also signed her up for Blue Santa {toys from police} this year, so she will get at least a few new things. I have a lot of new books for her, thanks to scholastic book clubs {we get to order as home educators}. FYI the november catalogs for scholastic are FULL of great books for christmas gifts and not too pricey. 

 

Activities - DD is in girl scouts, so we will likely do caroling with them on the riverwalk. We also plan to make cookies for a program they have - the cookies get donated to the wounded warrior center in town. We will also hopefully go to Light The Way, which is an annual christmas lighting ceremony with music and hot chocolate that doesn't cost anything. Our tree is a fake one, and we already have everything to go on it, so no cost there. 

 

Other than that - nothing. We really don't have any other family to give gifts to, which helps cut our costs way down. 


I hit up the Goodwill stores in more affluent areas. I found the exact gift my niece asked for - a large soccer ball ice cream maker. Normally over $30, and I got it for $9 in the original packaging. The Goodwill outlets can be a good source for vintage clothing gifts, too. They also sell a lot of old toolboxes that could be easily fixed up with some spray paint.
post #10 of 98

I'm getting the $1 and $2 books from the kids book clubs at school and then putting them aside for Christmas.  Also Hasbro has tons of coupons on their ww.familygamenight.com website  I printed out a bunch and I got several travel sized Connect 4 and Battleship games free from Walmart since they were on clearance for $4 and the coupon was $4.  They have other game coupons and found a few other really cheap games too.  A lot of the card games can be bought for $1.54 with the coupon.  I've been watching the drug store deals and picked up some toy cars for my son.

post #11 of 98

I don't know how frugal I am going to be this year.  I have considered getting them each a kindle (my parents send me money to get them things so this would actually be from my mom) and a tempurpedic pillow (from my dad...is a pillow worse than socks and underwear?  They really love mine)  and they were buy two get one free last year.  I am making them each mittens and maybe a hat.   I also usually get them each a new outfit and pajamas.  

 

For stocking stuffers I usually get them stuff church related and silly junk.  I have no ideas this year.  

post #12 of 98

We plan to do 1 larger combo gift for DS1 and DS2, then 1 smaller gift and a stocking for each one separately. We already got the combo gift. It was an amazing deal on a $80 video game that we got new for $14!!! So excited about that one.

 

We also don't buy for adults anymore. We only give gifts to the kids in our family. Though I would like to make something I can give to friends. I'll be on the look out for great ideas on this thread.

post #13 of 98

Plan ahead to reduce your gift list, especially for out of control family gift giving.

 

A few years ago I asked my brothers and sisters if we could stop exchanging gifts. No one really cared so we all said yes. (Although, were a little sad about it at Christmas actually.) Or put a limit on the expense. Or trade names. Or reduce by one degree who you gift. Of if you gift, make it consumable. My mom is overloaded with junk, for at least five years now I've only purchased gift certificates to the spa she likes. Big or small, she loves them.

post #14 of 98
With my sisters, we put names in hat and choose a couple. I usually make a gift basket with some homemade goodies, and some little things that are nice for romantic dinners. For extended family, we still gift but go cheap. We done fudge, cookies, "gourmet" popcorn that we made, vanilla extract, etc. For example, with the extract, 4 oz. of high grade extract cost us about $0.30. Each couple/family got a bottle instead of gifting individually. The bottles were about the same cost. We just can't afford fancy gifts for our huge extended family, and they understand. I really believe that is the thought that counts.
post #15 of 98

Im not sending gifts to out of town family members... Just getting things for DS.

post #16 of 98
If you can and make preserves, they can be an inexpensive and much appreciated gift. So few people do it anymore, and yet everyone remembers how Gradma or their other family used to make things. Shop when produce is available in season and inexpensive. Plums, apples, pumpkin, etc. are all in season right now. Later on citrus fruits will be less expensive.

-mint or mint & jalapeno jam for spreading on meats
-apple, plum, or pumpkin butter
-apple sauce
-pear sauce or butter
-grape jelly or jam
-orange jam or marmalade
-plum or spiced plum jam

Another way to save is to ask family members to save canning jars and rings if they remember so that I can reuse them. Otherwise they just get tossed (eek!) or collect dust if they don't can.
post #17 of 98

We decided a few years back to have no gifts to adults in our extended family unless they were handmade, something small, or something meaningful/needed. And NO reciprocation needed. Truly gifting because you want to gift something.  It's made Christmas much more fun! We've done 'things' as a familiy for Christmas rather than buying, wrapping, and transporting/shipping gifts. Been wonderful!

 

I try to stick somewhat to the list Thystle posted. A few things they need (usually shoes/boots or socks/undies new as we thrift everything else), a 'toy' (which as the oldest is 15 this seems to be something electronic or downloads for something electronic!), and always a family gift of some kind of game that we open on Xmas eve and play together.

post #18 of 98

We don't do any gifts for adults at all. I brought down the amount I would spend on kids in the family like nieces and nephews by a significant amount.

We have decorations we use over and over again. Our fake tree has been going for thirteen years. It's starting to look a little worse for wear but once we put the decorations on it you really can't tell. 

I search hard for all the free activities going on around town.

I reuse gift bags instead of buying new wrapping paper. 

 

For dd we have been doing only three gifts at christmas to symbolize the three gifts that Jesus received. It was an idea I found on the boards years ago and it's worked out really well for us. It really makes me think about what I'm getting her which has helped in making the gifts much more memorable, useful and/or loved. As an added bonus it helps with keeping the clutter down. She gets gifts from extended family too and they always send toys. I'd be drowning in toys if I bought her a bunch too. 

 

This book was interesting read  ...  Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For A More Joyful Christmas by Bill McKibben

 

post #19 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by FillingMyQuiver View Post

 

We strive for simple holiday decor.  I find inspiration from Colonial/ rustic decor.  My front door will be decorated w/ a burlap cone filled w/ evergreen, holly, and pine boughs from my yard and neighborhood.  I also put the boughs around the house as decor.  My table centerpiece will probably be a bowl of fruit pomanders the kids and I make for the season w/ oranges and cloves, hand me down candleholders, and beeswax candles we roll ourselves.  We cut our tree from a farm and the decorations are mostly homemade; we add at least 1 new type of handmade ornament a year.  This year I think we're stringing popcorn and cranberries.  A  couple rolls of holiday ribbon from Target goes a long way for us and is reused every year (bought them in 2003).  A couple baskets filled w/ pinecones and a candle warmer w/ a mason jar of water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppermint, and citrus peels and I call it done.

 

This type of stuff appeals to me too.  I take stuff we already have and move it to a new location.  We have a mantle in our kitchen that I decorate with groupings of old candlesticks.  I scatter greens and pinecones between the candlesticks.  I use plain white tapers, which can be found for next to nothing at many stores.

 

I think we will try the popcorn and cranberries this year, now that DS is old enough to help me.

post #20 of 98

I noticed that when we started drawing names we ended up spending more on gifts than when we gave something to everyone.  It was easy to find something small and frugal (Especially since two out of three families had people who were good at making handmade gifts). when we were giving something to everyone.  The gifts were expected to be small.  But once we were only giving a gift to one other person (two per family) they were expected to be nicer.  the limit was $30 ($60 since dh and I each drew a name) and that was far more than we had spent on everyone in previous years.  

 

 

The moral of this story is be cautious about drawing names.  It seems frugal at first  but it can really bite you in the butt.

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