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The $0 Holiday Challenge

post #1 of 625
Thread Starter 
Anyone want to join me in a "make do with what you have" holiday challenge?

This doesnt necessarily mean spending absolutely no money, but as little as possible, definition to be decided by the individual.

We are really poor this Christmas. Heck, we are really poor every Christmas. DH is in the restaurant biz as a waiter. Sept, Oct and Nov are really slow, december is better, but we have a lot of make up to do, and jan and feb are awful. So, we have very little to work with.

So, some people make gifts, but you have to go out and buy supplies, and even that part isnt feasible. And then, okay you have the gift made, and now you have to decorate the house, provide a wonderful meal, cookies, and wrap and ship presents. Oh, wait, now every chairty in america is tugging on your heartstrings, making you feel horribly guilty and terrible about yourself since you cant even quite provide a good Christmas(good by media standards, anyway) for your family, let alone stuff for anyone else. And then "everyone" (which is ussually comprised of writers from their comfy homes where their holdiay is secure) tells you to remember that the holidays arent about giving they are about family, blah blah blah, and yet, they dont tend to give up their fab holiday.
rant ends

Anyway, I do intend to sign up on the holiday fairy swap here on mdc, but from my end, I want to really do the holiday well without feeling guilty, burntout, overextended, or like I didnt do "enough"

Anyone want to join me? We can post our successes, how we made gifts from dryer lint and wrapped them in a pumpkin shell dried in such a way that it was beautfiful enough to make Martha Stewart cry red and green tears!! We can hold each other accountable when we want to break down adn blow the rent money ona last minute trip to Goodwill and Toysrus. We can support each other when we are feeling poor bc of what others are doing. We can post reactions of recipients of our gifts.

Anyone up for it?
post #2 of 625
one year when I was a teen we cut down a huge vine that had been growing up the side of the house (can't remember what kind, but not poisenous).

As it was drying I started playing around with it and found it weaved REALLY well. I made everyone in the family wreaths (heart or round) for Christmas using ONLY that old dead vine. :LOL

money-free gifts are sometimes the best.

(my mom still has hers up on the wall)
post #3 of 625
I have been using leftover odds and ends of yarn to make hats and scarves for the family. I don't know what the kids will be getting from us- but it will certainly be cheap. I am completely in the throes of trying to provide Thanksgiving dinner for 15 people, none of which has offered to help in any way (except my mom who sent me a check because she won't be able to bake the desserts that she would normally bring due to the fact that they are on an RV trip ). I think I will make a coupon book for dh. Or maybe not lol
I have missed you boysrus!
post #4 of 625
I did buy some wool/angora yarn (not cheap) to make some scarves for my SIL and BIL back east. It does feel much better than buying a gift though I purchased the yarn. We shop for sales all year round so we always have other things to give to various people. So we rarely buy Christmas presents.

I will also make chocolate truffles and sending them to ppl. It was a hit last year so why not do it again?

I wish I got around to making soap, but maybe next year. I would to hear more cheap/money free ideas for holidays. I am all for a chic, cheap, streamlined, holiday. We have enough activities going to worry about shopping for gifts.
post #5 of 625
How do you make truffles? That's a GREAT idea!

Our immiediate family doesn't exchange gifts, but we have to cover grandparents & teachers, so I'm absolutely in for the challenge
post #6 of 625
Hey, I just wanted to share this story quickly:
I met a woman a while ago who had a very successful business making fudge out of her home. Her fudge was to DIE for. She started out because one year and her her hubby had no money to buy Xmas gifts for the family.
I am sooooo drooling just thinking about her fudge.
post #7 of 625
I've made truffles for gifts...sooo much fun but I end up eating a lot of chocolate. I think there's a basic recipe on Martha Stewart's website. I was thinking of personalized ginger bread houses. Or planting paper white bulbs now to give at christmas...this would cost money at least for the bulbs...but I have a ton of little planters that could be painted.

I think this is a fun thread. We have money for gift but honestly I think the homemade ones are much better. I like to use the money to donate in our friends and family's names. Otherwise the consumerism of Christmas just depresses me...and I hate shopping malls...

Another cheaper idea I had was afternoon tea in a basket. Buy tea cups in a thrift store and tea and make homemade scones, cookies, etc. I love going to tea.

Oh and the Martha stewart kids for fall (probably not in stores, but I bet you could find it on line or in a library) had this really cute idea for making little dolls. They look pretty cute, kind of like waldorf dolls. you could use tshirt material and yarn you had lying around the house for the hair. It also had some really cute crocheting projects, but I'm not much of a knitter and I have never crocheted...

For granparents, customized picture frames (you can get old ones at thrift store REALLY cheap) with a family pic in side. I don't like the protrait studio pics so dh takes a picture of us...plus then the dog can be in the pic and the cat if he's in agood mood.

K I'll stop now but I probably could think of more...

ETA: Links
Truffles:http://www.marthastewart.com/page.jh...rue&resultNo=4
I also melted chocolate chips and rolled the ganache in the melted chocolate and let it harden

I couldn't find the doll pattern online, but there is a different on out there. Otherwise check the library for a back issue. There's also some really cute ideas in the winter issue.
post #8 of 625
I will post when I have some time later, but just wanted to chime in and say that I love making things and especially for free. This Christmas is all about free gifts...with the exception of a tricycle for ds.
post #9 of 625
This is such a cool idea
post #10 of 625
I am so in on this boat- and Val, I know how you feel, we moved back to Michigan mostly because it was so spendy there.... But anyway, I had a wonderful day of post dating a check to my mortgage company for a grand!!! To save the house..... So I am floating in the poor boat with the rest of you- sending buckets and buckets of water over the side. Life is sweet!

So here is what I am thinking, if we talk food it must be accompanied by a recipe- girls you are making my mouth water with no way to bake something up to crave the urge- REMEMBER SOME OF US ARE PREGNANT! Heemmm... Back to what I was saying, o' yes recipes, and a bit more how you did what you did.

I am thinking for DD and my niece I am going to make them a doll out of fabric I have laying all over and then get some yarn and do the hair- I figure it will be pretty cheap, besides my time (now where did my time go.?.?.?. on the search for more time...)

My mom has a few gooood food recipes so when I talk to her I will have her get them out for me and then I will share them- I don't need your drool leaking over onto my desk right now! Thank you very much!!!

I hope this thread takes off, we need all the help we can get, we have my whole family and DP's whole family to buy for and ZERO can I please repeat ZERO money
post #11 of 625
I have several pieces of clothes in a stack to donate to Goodwill, but I keep thinking if I could figure out a way to use the fabric from them, I might be able to turn out some pretty cool beanbags, or little cloth bags. Maybe even bags to carry/store the beanbags in? I have an herb garden that I could snip from to add scents to the bean bags. I have a couple odd beads and leather scraps I could use to decorate the bags.

But here's my reservation. What would my friends and their kids do with the beanbags and little sack-purse thing after they were done oohing and ahhing over them? What shape and size beanbags and sack would be best? Would they just end up at Goodwill anyway? (Maybe I'm just procrastinating and calling it deciding and thinking)
post #12 of 625
If you have fabric and need to make stuff for kids, make those I SPY bags that are all the rage right now. I read somewhere you can make 3 for $10. I am supposed to make some tomorrow at a craft day for $2.50 apiece. Just google I Spy bags for directions. They are great for kids who have a long car ride or a boring line wait.
post #13 of 625
Here's what I gave FIL one year:

I made a little card enrolling him in the "bread of the week" club. Every week, (for 6 weeks) I'd bake a loaf of bread and deliver it to his house while it was still warm. He loved it,--as soon as I walked in the door, he'd snatch it away and start buttering himself a slice-- and it cost almost nothing.
post #14 of 625

I'm so glad I found this thread....funds are REALLY low this year,so I am looking to make as much as I can instead of buying things. Looking forward to sharing ideas. will write more.NAK
post #15 of 625
Loving this thread! we have some obligated gifts to give and I'm trying to make as much as I can..but I'm far from spending $0!!!

I tried googling for I spy bag directions and this was the only site I found (for sale, not a pattern, but at least you can see what they look like)
http://www.austinmama.com/myspybag.htm

I think these are a great idea btw! do you think an almost 5yo would like something like this or is it more for a younger preschooler?

daylily- that's a great idea!

rubysmomjess-I think I will try that truffle recipe. I never know what to give DH grandparents and they would probably love a big box of those (both have sweet tooths) I have a ton of xmas tins/boxes collected throughout the years (and I buy them insanley cheap after the holidays )
post #16 of 625
Oh this is great! We are so tight financially lately, and I'm *so* tired of all this holiday hoopla crapola. Our plan this year is to get the kids something very small each, and then just bake cookies and other goodies for everyone else.

I like the idea of making beanbags out of old clothes. I have a pile of neices who would love that! I also thought of making personalized pillowcases for my nieces. They take very little fabric, and my machine can embroider so I can put their names on them.
post #17 of 625
Try eBay and type in I spy bag. So what do you do? Shake things around in the little window to try and find all the little pieces? OK, I just went to the austinmama link and that is the case. Sounds like a cute idea.

BTW, I love the fresh bread club idea.
post #18 of 625
The bean bags are a great idea- you can sew a "X" or an "O" on them and make them so you can play tick-tack-toe.....

and the I Spy bags- I like that idea, I think my nephews and my neice and my DD would love that. I think this thread is helping a ton!

ETA: what size would you sew a bean bag?
post #19 of 625
i love those spy bags ... they are too cute ... i think i will make some of those ...
post #20 of 625
This year everyone local is getting chutney I canned in Sept.- I got free fruit from the neighbor's tree. Out of town relatives are getting handmade Christmas ornaments the kids made out of homemade dough we baked/painted. I'm going to try to knit for my nephews, but am running behind schedule (it's Nov already ).

Dd is knitting potholders for the grandparents but these may not get done since she is five and gets sidetracked. I'll finish the if she doesn't.

Growing up, we gave each other a lot of re-used gifts- we'd find something in our room that a sibling had been coveting all year and wrap it up for them.
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