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The $0 Holiday Challenge - Page 5

post #81 of 625
Originally Posted by boysrus
OK< carlasher, can you dumb it and cheapen it down for us common peasants!!??
I need to spend about $1 or less per present
I gave each person about 2 truffles in a box - so it came down to less than $1
per person. And you can leave out the liqueur as well.
post #82 of 625
Originally Posted by boysrus
I am poking around looking for cheaper truffles, but they dont seem to exist How much does it cost to buy those fancy ingredients? I really want this to be aimed at people who are really broke like me, and it doesnt sound like something I can afford to make.

You can leave out the liqueur. It is very optional. Besides chocolate (you can get large bars of dark chocolate cheap at Trader Joes under the brand) the rest is just cream, butter and cocoa powder. I buy my cocoa powder in bulk at most any bulk section at healthy type stores (Whole Foods has it). You dont need a lot of it either.
post #83 of 625
Thread Starter 
Thanks The ingredients sound scary, but maybe I am overreacting!! Thanks for clarifying carlasher.
Rainbow, will fabric paint be safe for the microwave?
post #84 of 625
Thread Starter 
Here is a recipe to make bath salts. They could be made "manly" I suppose
post #85 of 625
Some non-$, non-thing ideas:

* Car detailing. As long as you have a vacuum cleaner and some basic cleaning supplies, this is a GREAT gift! Give them a coupon for COMPLETE car detailing (minus shampooing, unless you have access to a shampooer) that includes vacuuming, wiping all surfaces with cleaner, etc. Sprinkle a few drops of a nice essential oil or tuck some cloves under the mats and return the car!

* Exercise partner. I asked for a yoga partner one year, and DH's aunt "gave" this to me. Once a week she came to my house, brought a yoga tape, and we did yoga together for 45 minutes! It was so nice--and we lasted through the end of March. It motivated me, gave us special time together, and helped get me in better shape.

* If you have a scanner and a CD burner (or access to one), get a bunch of old photos from the person, scan them, and make them a CD.
post #86 of 625
one thing I make every year (and only once a year) is chocolate covered pretzels! I usually do both white and regular chocolate and use red/green sprinkles.they are easy to make (a little time consuming though)and pretty cheap to make if you buy everything in bulk and you can get tins & colored tissue paper at the $1.00 store..

I think we make make up some jalapeno jelly for small gifts as we have all the canning supplies/pectin (just need peppers which we can get CHEAP)!

my DH has never had rum balls, so I think I may make some of those too just for him
post #87 of 625

Alcohol-Free Softening Aftershave

from care2.com:

Some men don’t like having alcohol in their aftershave. This recipe is for them!

2 cups witch hazel extract
2 ounces rose water
2 ounces aloe vera gel
1/2 ounce vegetable glycerin
A few drops of an essential oil of your choice (such as peppermint and eucalyptus), if desired

Combine the ingredients in a jar, and shake to blend. Pat on the face after shaving.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.
my dh skipped the vegetable glycerin and used tea tree oil.
It smells tea-treey for a few minutes and then fades, but still leaves a nice fresh/clean scent

He stores his in a large Frank's Hot Sauce bottle--the shaker top on those is perfect
I forget how much we spent on stuff for it, but the one batch lasts about a year with dh shaving every 3rd day
and we have enough stuff to make probably 2 or 3 more batches (just buying the normal sized containers at the store)
we could make even more if we bought more witch hazel, which is pretty cheap
post #88 of 625
Originally Posted by Christy1980
does anyone have a good gingerbread recipe? like the actual bread, not the cookies...

Here's a recipe....(it's great with or without the spiced Creme Anglaise and you could sub homemade whipped cream with a touch of spice too)

Gingerbread with Spiced Creme Anglaise Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup turbinado sugar (or "Sugar in the Raw")
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup molasses
1 cup Guinness, or other dark beer
Spiced Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and nutmeg. In a third bowl, combine the molasses and beer and stir to dissolve. Add the dry ingredients and beer mixture alternately to the egg mixture, beating after the addition of each.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Spoon the Creme Anglaise onto the middle of 12 dessert plates. Cut the gingerbread into 12 equal portions and place on plates. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve.

Spiced Creme Anglaise:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar

Combine the cream, the zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and frothy, about 2 minutes. Slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the hot cream, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to warm milk and stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm. (Or, to serve chilled, place in an ice bath to cool, then cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.)

Yield: 2 cups Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes Inactive Prep Time: if chilled, 2 hours

I was wondering if any of you mamas know how if that recipe would work in coffee cans?

My mom used to do that with banana or zucchini breads. She would bake them in there and then I think she would wrap the cans in nice paper and give them as gifts (I'm not one hundred percent sure if she did that or put them in nice bags).

I love this thread!
post #89 of 625
The truffle recipe really doesn't sound that daunting. I'm definatly going to try it! I thought semisweet choc. was like chocolate chips, no? Should definatly be dark chocolate?

Rainbowmoon~ we do the choc. pretzels for stockings and for filler for easter baskets, as well. Takes the focus off the name brand candies!
post #90 of 625
I'm making dressy scarves for some of the women in my fam by sewing two strips of this nice green crushed velvet we have together, and doing some fringe beadwork on the ends.

I'm totally loving all these ideas---I want to send gingerbread & make truffles this year!
post #91 of 625
Originally Posted by dready*mama
The truffle recipe really doesn't sound that daunting. I'm definatly going to try it! I thought semisweet choc. was like chocolate chips, no? Should definatly be dark chocolate?

Rainbowmoon~ we do the choc. pretzels for stockings and for filler for easter baskets, as well. Takes the focus off the name brand candies!

Semi sweet and dark chocolate can be the same thing. But whatever you buy, make sure it does not have an added junk to it - its harder to melt and it is not as good in general. I try to get 60-70% cocoa, but I am sure semi sweet chocolate chips would be great too.
post #92 of 625
Thread Starter 
Wow!! Ang, you are soo good!! Whipping up beanbags overnight!
Okay, I need ideas for my boys.
Rek is 6 and is into legos, science experiments, building gadgets, cool stories, inventing things and robots.
Alex will be 8 and is into reading, animals, space, baseball, detective work, social justice.
I havent come up with anything for these two guys. I would like to make Rek an experiment kit maybe? But, we have a lot of basic kits around so it would have to be something super cool. No clue for Alex except books.
post #93 of 625
so many wonderful ideas! i'm one of ten children and everyone STILL gives a present for everyone, but we get more creative every year. some siblings can buy presents for everyone, but many of us go the home-made or regift route. this thread is a god-send, boysrus!

Another cool idea, which I don't think was mentioned yet, is fridge magnets. You can buy magnets with adhesive for a few bucks and then cut it into different shapes and attach pictures to it. family pictures, kid pictures, any kind of pictures you like.

I also get foto magnets, the kind you can slip a foto into (I have found a pack of three for $1.99), and then make a frame around it using different kinds of materials, usually this soft foamy kind of material (about $0.30 a sheet of 8x11") that i'm not sure what it is called but you can glue things on to it or paint on it, you can even get it with adhesive backing so you can cut it into shapes as well and stick it on. I recently made a frame for a foto magnet by cutting a blue open square and pasting it onto the magnet and then cut out white clouds and a yellow sun and glued them on the blue, then i painted birds onto the "sky" I was creating, and added detail to the sun, and painted "Grandma's little angel." Now grandma has a frame she can update every time I send along a new foto.

for those of you who can sew and have scraps left behind, you can make napkins. A friend once gave me a set of four from some cool material she had leftover and I thought it was the coolest gift ever.

Last year one brother made personalized calendars for each family member using 12 bad fotos for each month. It seems he got all my awkward moments growing up. It's a fun gift and hilarious, though i have taped up many pictures over the ones he used because I couldn't stand to look at it for a whole month.

This year I'm making a personalized family calendar, adding everyone's birthdays and anniversaries, holidays we celebrate as a family, traditions we do, some health-education notes (like info. on diabetes which my mother has, heart health, etc.), quotes on family, funny quotes from actual emails or letters we have sent to each other, and whatever else I can think of. For pictures for each month I have different themes: funny hats (I found a bunch of pictures of family members in funny hats so i'll cut their heads out and have them all floating on another foto background like a sunset or forest), holidays (typical) and some months won't have pictures at all, but family recipes (and then my vegetarian adaptations of them) and stories. The biggest cost will be color copying whatever foto collages I come up with, the rest I can do on my own computer and print out on card stock and then of course, sending the calendars back east to the family express mail because I'm sure I'll be working on it up until the last possible minute.

In order to get some money to do this I've started selling random things when I can, used books, CDs, clothes and pooling the money for the x-mas project.

I look forward to more creative, fun ideas from y'all!
post #94 of 625
Okay, I need ideas for my boys.
Rek is 6 and is into legos, science experiments, building gadgets, cool stories, inventing things and robots.
Alex will be 8 and is into reading, animals, space, baseball, detective work, social justice.
I havent come up with anything for these two guys. I would like to make Rek an experiment kit maybe? But, we have a lot of basic kits around so it would have to be something super cool. No clue for Alex except books.[/QUOTE]

There are so many kid-friendly experiments on the web, you could create an experiment book for Rek, cut and paste experiments onto construction paper, have chapters on different topics, like health related experiments, eg. showing how acid attacks the teeth, nature (volcano eruption), etc.

You could create a book club calendar for Alex with a reading list on all those favorite subjects of his. Assign a topic for each month and set a goal for each month, having him find 4 books on baseball for the month of September at the local library, or social justice books for black history month, etc. When he reaches the goals, give him a gently used book as a prize. So, you just have to buy a book every month or so, however often you set goals for him.
post #95 of 625
So glad to find this thread! We are usually broke for the holidays. I've done a lot of baking in the past (brownies); and last year I found a great deal on photo mugs so I did those for the family. This year, I'm planning on making fudge for the people we want to give to locally......it's really cheap and easy! However, I'm not sure if it ships well, does anyone know? I'd love to send it to our families in CA and IL, but don't want it to be a gross mess when it gets there!

I really like the tea idea! I think I'll be doing that for all the relatives out of state! For the couples, like the inlaws, I can make a cute label that says "Tea for two from us to you" or something equally cheesy

post #96 of 625
Thread Starter 
My mom sends fudge all the time. She just packs it in a tin. I think she freezes it before she sends it, to give it an extra boost, but I dont think she uses cold packs or anything
post #97 of 625
A few years back, I actually made courduroy patchwork totes for all the women in our families... of course, it was also last minute and I had a little assembly line, with Mike serging and me doing the finish work...

Last year, with Ezra being so small, I did not get as much baking done as I'd hoped. I did make some small loaves of pumpkin bread and some sugar cookies, and I made brownie-in-a-jar kits as well, with the ingredients layered. I printed out nice lables with directions on this adhesive paper I already had and jars that I had been saving over the previous months. I cut circles of fabric from my scrap box, and tied around it with ribbon. Looked great, and was enjoyed by all.

Hey, FWIW, the only time I have ever gotten bugs in my flour, it was with GOLD MEDAL brand, so buy something else! Seperate incidents, seperate homes even so it was no coincidence. I know its cheap this time of year, but just buy the store brand instead!

Anyway, I also did some melt & pour soaps with herbs in them (fairly cheap bulk at the co-op, you don't need much). Frozen juice cannisters are great molds because you can pour them, and just peel them open when they're cool and cut into slices. I wrapped them in plastic wrap and sealed the open side with a sticky label saying what soap it was. I used oatmeal and cinnamon with the milk based soap and lavendar buds with lavendar EO in the hemp oil base, and made salts to coordinate with a blend of epsom and sea salts (@$.50lb) and essential oils. This year the co-op has dead sea salt in bulk, so I'm stoked. The salts I packaged in the really cheap bread bags (like 75 for $2) and put those in brown lunch bags. I then punched holes in the top of the lunchbags, threaded ribbon through to make a bow, and added a printed label.

What a great idea, to make a science kit for a boy! There are some awesome ideas on this thread. Also check out this thread for more great ideas...

This year I am doing~
* Playsilks dyed in Kool-Aid
* beanbags from different textured fabrics
* fairy wings (like these)
* I want to make my friend's dd a midwife dressup set, but can't find an affordable pinard for it
* felt boards
* felt puppets
* busy books
* going to try to make fairies with flowers and pipecleaners, we'll see
* paint frame ornaments and put ds's picture in them
* salt dough ornaments painted by DS for family
* salt dough imprints of ds's hand for family
* laquer color pics of ds on cut wood shapes, glue magnet to back
* drawstring mesh bags for tub toys
* bath salts or possibly a scrub? with M&P soaps and sew hemp fleece drawstring bags for the soaps in the shower, to make little bath sets... maybe sew some nice velvet drawstring bags to put the sets in?
* lavendar sachets out of silk scraps, rice, and bulk lavendar from the co-op
* colored homemade playdough sets (um, maybe...)
* rice (maybe feedcorn?) bags with fancy scrap fabrics
* personalized fridge poetry- print out words, use spray adhesive to glue to 'sheet'-type magnet, then cut out... I have business magnets from where we used to live, peel these to use and it makes it nearly free!

This list looks great... we'll see what I actually accomplish, lol!

I'll be back later, I have more ideas but ds needs me... great thread! Thanks, mamas!
post #98 of 625
XM ~ Any flour is suseptible to those mealy bugs. To prevent them, when you buy your bags of flour, just freeze them for 48 hours and then they will be ready for long term storage.

lOving the ideas here, mamas! Keep 'em coming!
post #99 of 625
Originally Posted by boysrus
Alex will be 8 and is into reading, animals, space, baseball, detective work, social justice.
The other day I downloaded a bunch of animal tracks clip art from the Microsoft web site and printed off two of each print on card stock (16 per page - so fairly small). I cut them out and laminated each card with packing tape. I'm going to write up a little booklet with a page for each track and some information about the animal, and instructions for different games you can play with the cards - matching games, go fish, etc. Perhaps you could do something similar for Alex, and include space in the book for him to write his own observations on the animals, pictures he discovers in magazines, etc. Add a "mission" on a couple of pages for something sure to appeal to a little detective.
post #100 of 625
None of my ideas are free but some can be done fairly cheaply.

We're doing handprint wreaths from ds.

Beeswax candles for the women (sheets of beeswax and wick from Michael's cost about $2-3 for 2 candles).

Spiced nuts for the men (I've done peanuts and other cheap nuts in poor years, cashews in years we have a bit extra. Big bag of nuts from Costco, Sams aren't too expensive).

For my sis and dn I'm picking up some beads and making them matching mother/daughter bracelets. A friend of mine made name bracelets for around $8 (alphabet blocks).

Another friend bought the wooden pic frames for IKEA and then painted them, put her kids art work in them for the gmas.

Dh has gotten coupon books from me before, typically part baking (redeem for a pan of brownies) and part sex.
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