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Frugal Holidays 2008 - Page 9

post #161 of 389
Oh how I wish I knew how to knit/sew/crochet/can .... Oh well I can bake... :
post #162 of 389
I love some of the ideas going so far. I am less crafty and more superpowered-thrift-store-shopper, so my list is a little different. Here is what we were thinking:

DD and DS - Toys found off craigslist.

FIL - organic/natural toileties found on clearance months ago (just getting into NFL)

SMIL - canvas totes with LO's handprints

Extended family (5 couples) - recipie book of matriarch's famous family recipies. Somehow when she moved to the nursing home, we ended up with her recipie box. Plan to bake one of her cake recipies for the holiday meal, too.

SIL/DB - ???? Maybe vintage apron for her? We have a "nothing new from the mall" tradition with them, I at least know it will be homemade or secondhand. I make a great freezer salsa, but that doesn't exactly gift well. Wish I could can.

Parents?

Other five siblings? Their 4 girls?

MIL?

Homemade hot cocco mix was a hit with friends last year, so we will probably mix up a batch of that or mulling spices for wine/juice for the 3-4 couples we exchange gifts with.
post #163 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeekingJoy View Post
Homemade hot cocco mix was a hit with friends last year, so we will probably mix up a batch of that or mulling spices for wine/juice for the 3-4 couples we exchange gifts with.
Do you mind sharing your recipe for hot cocoa mix? :
post #164 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by brightonwoman View Post
One year I bought 2 yards of canvas and sewed roads and buildings and made a city for my DS to drive his cars all over.
One year when I was a kid my mom made us several puppets plus a little curtain on a spring-rod that we could mount in a doorway and use as a theatre.
Cool! Do you have pictures or a pattern?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilcrunchie View Post
Stocking stuffer ideas:
-Felt/felted wool playfood
Is this hard to make? Any tips? Instructional websites?

Quote:
Originally Posted by papschmitty View Post
Last year, for close friends, I made a Happy Hippie Cleaning Kit. It was a nice basket (on clearance) filled with my homemade, nontoxic, and cheap household cleaners.
This sounds perfect for someone on our list. I usually clean with BS, vinegar, Dr. B's and rags. Doesn't really look that nice in a gift basket though. Do you have recipes for cleaners I can mix up ahead of time and are shelf stable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by papschmitty View Post
I read through this entire thread but don't remember seeing a recipe for mulling spice. I love the idea of mulling spice and cider. Does anyone have a recipe? TIA!
I use one similar to this: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,193,...248197,00.html But I add some ground cinnamon. And the measurements are a lot looser.
post #165 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeekingJoy View Post


Is this hard to make? Any tips? Instructional websites?
Well, I'm not much of a sewer so I don't do the sewn food, but I don't think it is that hard if you are sewing inclined. I know there's a woman w/ awesome tutorials/patterns but the name is escaping me (I think she charges for the patterns though).

here's what I do. I usually needle-felt because I can buy roving, etc. from a local waldorf school. I also use a lot of felted sweaters from thrift shops.

Last year I felted a tan sweater in the washing machine. With the sweater body, I cut out circles and then just needle felted some chocolate chips onto the circles. It was very, very easy (almost embarrassingly so LOL). I took the sleeves, and turned them into cupcake wrappers (folded back). I did do a little sewing on those (to form the bottom "circle" of the cupcake.). I filled them w/ wool, then needle felted a big pile of frosting overtop with some pink roving that had little specks of different colors (aqua blue, reds, etc.). It looked kind of like pink funfetti frosting if you remember what Funfetti used to look like LOL. I needle felted it so it looked like the icing was kind of in a swirl pattern. It sounds harder than it was. A bit time consuming but not difficult, and it is easier for me to work on at night vs. something that involves the sewing machine (I don't even remember how to thread my machine )

I've also done stuff like make a playscape out of a large piece of wool felt. I then stitched (by hand, but I'm definitely not a sew-er) patches of green wool (for grass), blue wool cut into the shape of a lake, etc. and needle felted some texture into the water and added some boulders, trees, etc. with needlefelting (and I'm*totally self taught on needle felting...I'm sure I don't do it right, but I like doing it anyway LOL). The playscape is used w/ little wooden animals, Calico Critters types of animals, etc.
post #166 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiannaK View Post
Yup .... SAND PAILS!!! I farted around last year, and didn't think of getting the pails until later, but this is what I did last Christmas for 4 nieces/nephews.

Bought crayons, coloring pencils, watercolor paints, markers, and construction paper during the dirt cheap BTS sales. I picked up some red and green plastic pails from Hobby Lobby. Bought some Christmas stickers, and let my daughter decorate the outside of the pail, and also put some stickers inside. Voila!
For those more creative/artsy/have more time and energy (I was PG with twins at the time), you could paint the kids' names on the pails, embellish the handles with ribbon, etc.
Oh I just found this thread, and am glad that I did! We do gift exchanges with both sides of the family, and last year it cost us over $500! Don't want to repeat that this year. The sand pails sound like a great idea for my nieces and nephews. I'll have to read through and see if I can find things for my in-laws and sisters.
post #167 of 389
I just posted a reply, but something derailed the ole online train... here goes again, but shorter!

DH's extended family still does an insane gift exchange with his 14 cousins, their spouses, a kajillion kids, and 10 aunts/ uncles! Everybody draws only one name, thank goodness, but the suggested gift amount is $50!! Meaning it costs me, DH and DD $150 just to go to Christmas Dinner. It's so pointless to spend that much money on a cousin 15 years our senior who has more money than God, whom we barely know, and with whom we have contact exactly once a year!

SO. Last year I made my statement by donating to Heifer International in both adult cousins' names. (We went ahead and participated in the kid gift.) I made simple cards with goat silhouettes explaining that we had purchased a share of a goat in their name. Nobody is allowed to bitch about charity, and I felt like I was doing a little more than bringing a couple more GAP sweaters into the world. I'll do it again this year and every year until the ridiculousness comes to an end.

For my own family, (mom, dad, brother, SIL), we draw names as well, which is nice. I'm praying I get my SIL's name-- I want to give her a book of my favorite recipes and a good chopping knife, as she's a recent vegetarian and is always asking me questions in the kitchen.

DD will get one present from Santa and one from us. My in-laws go so overboard at Christmas (think DEBT) that it honestly sucks the joy out of the time we spend together. We'll probably do a wooden dollhouse and maybe some new jammies-- things that won't end up in the bottom of the toy box. I'm two steps away from asking them to just donate toys to the Goodwill for C's Christmas since it's all going to end up there anyway.
post #168 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeekingJoy View Post
This sounds perfect for someone on our list. I usually clean with BS, vinegar, Dr. B's and rags. Doesn't really look that nice in a gift basket though. Do you have recipes for cleaners I can mix up ahead of time and are shelf stable?
I have all the recipes saved on a word document. It's a cute little handout that describes how to use each of the cleaners and how to make more. Everything I made was pretty shelf stable except the soft-scrub type cleaner which tends to dry out over time. I think I included an all purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, scouring powder, widnow/mirror cleaner, and a soft-scrub type bathroom cleaner. I also threw in some Charlie's soap since I didn't have a recipe to make my own. In another basket, I also included some microfiber towels that I bought for pretty cheap in the automotive section at Target. PM me your email address and I'll send you the doucment. I put a picture of one of my Happy Hippie Cleaning Kit presents on my blog last year. You can see it here if you'd like.
post #169 of 389
Time to make some decisions:

Im tossing around some pretty 'severe' decisions in my head.

Possibly NOT doing gifts for my(out of state) family this year. Things have been turbulant to say the least. If i were to do gifts they would be home-made. This would be for family out of state and need to be 'sent off'. I posted in TOA about the fiaso with my mother and DS birthday. I feel like I would much rather use my time to create things my kids and DH and friends here then expend energy on people who wont cherish them.
If my family chooses to send us things, $$ , whatnots thats fine, but i really dont feel close to them, we wont be traveling and my family isnt welcome here so they wont be traveling, i just dont feel like doing gifts for them this year.

It would elminate
1 anniversay
2 birthdays
and a whole slew of xmas presents.

Im beyond feeling guilty or upset. Im just tired of doing for others and being 'expected' to present a gift as dh says. the only person i feel sorry for is my brother in law, but im getting over that quickly.

This isnt something i've come to lightly. Every year it just gets worse and worse, I've had it. DH's had it. I'm about 98% sure we are going to re-group and just focus on the kids and our close friends here with like-minds and similiar interests.

Please tell me I havent lost it.
post #170 of 389
ANYONE planning on doing a holiday e-mail instead of mailing cards?

Another change we are implementing this year is one email to everyone. Between the cost of postage, cards, the hassles and stress of getting the cards out, DH has finally agreed to just one email to send the 1st week of December. YEAH:::
post #171 of 389
How do these gift ideas sound?

DD (she'll be 3): I'm making her a wool diaper cover, wool soaker, and a sleepsack, and maybe a pair of PJs, all for her baby doll (to match the ones I'm making for her little brother or sister) We also have some new puzzles that are in our gift closet that I've picked up at garage sales--she LOVES puzzles.

DH: not sure

my mom, dad, sister, & brother--my family usually requests specific gifts, whatever we need or want. I have a couple of small gifts already for my parents, and I may make something like a mixer cover for my mom. I'll probably end up buying whatever my siblings want with a $25/person limit...I feel guilty about asking for what I want and then getting them something they didn't ask for!

DH's parents, brother & SIL, and sister & BIL: I was thinking about making some combination of homemade jam/apple butter/ice cream toppings, maybe 4 jars total per family. Does that sound like enough? I'd really like to keep their gifts under $15 apiece if possible and I am pregnant so I don't want to have to do any really involved projects. We already have a ton of canning jars so I'd only need to buy lids + ingredients.

DH's nephews & nieces (boys 7, 9, & 12 girls 15 & 19): I was thinking maybe a jar of cookie mix for the boys, and then, if I can get some cheap fabric, maybe wool scarves for the girls.
post #172 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by papschmitty View Post
Do you mind sharing your recipe for hot cocoa mix? :
I get a large bowl and put 5-6 cups of dry milk, a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, and then grate in about a pound of semisweet chocolate. I use the finest side of the box grater. Stir and then store in a glass jar.

Test the batch first. To make, just stir into hot/boiling water. I usually have to adjust the sugar-choc. ratio. Also, it always takes more mix than I think.
post #173 of 389
Thanks SeekingJoy!
post #174 of 389
Recently we've been making homemade kettle corn and I've thought about giving big batches of it out at Christmas time.

Anyone know where the best place is to find air-tight containers or decorative plastic bags to put stuff like that in that are reasonably priced?
post #175 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tara2008 View Post
Recently we've been making homemade kettle corn and I've thought about giving big batches of it out at Christmas time.

Anyone know where the best place is to find air-tight containers or decorative plastic bags to put stuff like that in that are reasonably priced?
I really like to use mason jars. You can make the festive by either painting the jar or putting holiday fabric over the lid with ribbon around it.
post #176 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
My biggest struggle is coming up with several under-the-tree presents for "whole family gifts" that will be appreciated by all my kids, ages 4-10.
...
extra challenging to come up with things to give them at Christmastime that are practical, interesting, sturdy, fun, won't clutter up our house, won't break and get discarded after brief use, are easy to come by, and are time- and budget-friendly.
I was one of 4 siblings within 5 yrs of each other (2 girls then 2 boys, so like your family only the other way around ) Anyway, I have been trying to think of what kinds of things we liked to do together...
We used to love forts--we'd drape blankets over tables, pull everything out of closets and hole up in there, use all the couch cushions to build castles, etc. These ones are kinda pricy, but it would be pretty easy to make ones like them.

In general, I love www.hearthsong.com I don't order from them very often, but I like to browse and feel inspired for stuff to create!

Another thing that would be fun is puppets and maybe a theatre to put on shows in...we used to do elaborate plays together.
Dress up stuff also falls into that category. If you have the right kinds of pieces, boys can be just as into dress up as girls are

We also enjoyed interactive games like ping pong (we had a nerf set that could just be put up anywhere, then when we were older we got a full table), badminton, croquet, etc.

A big wooden train set!! OK, that's not very frugal...but it is a great play-together toy

This might be a better thing for a couple of years out, but one year we got a whole bunch of legos-- mom ordered directly from the lego company (www.lego.com) and she got a couple of castle sets, plus a large grey baseplate and a black building block set and a grey building block set, and we used all the pieces to build our own elaborate castles... I know legos aren't exactly budget, but this is a budget way to do legos!

BTW, I LOVE your idea of having community toys. Our kids are 6yrs apart so their interests are totally different and communal toys wouldn't work so well right now, but I'm definitely going to take a few steps in that direction...I like the idea of one box for each kid to 'own' and then everything else beign shared...we do have shared train set, beanbags, lincoln logs, etc...
post #177 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by maciascl View Post
Oh how I wish I knew how to knit/sew/crochet/can .... Oh well I can bake... :
four years ago for christmas DH got me a "teach myself to knit" kit...it was something i wanted, not a *hinthint* from him. Anyway, it was definitely slow starting, but I am going gangbusters now. SO, if you want to learn it, you totally can! Just jump in!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1growingsprout View Post
Im tossing around some pretty 'severe' decisions in my head.

Possibly NOT doing gifts for my(out of state) family this year. ...
This isnt something i've come to lightly. Every year it just gets worse and worse, I've had it. DH's had it. I'm about 98% sure we are going to re-group and just focus on the kids and our close friends here with like-minds and similiar interests.

Please tell me I havent lost it.
you have NOT lost it and and : to you mama!! Honestly, I think it's rediculous for people to expect gifts from anyone...I hate feeling obligated to give. So sometimes we give things to folks, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we help orchestrate group gifts (for example, this year we're getting together with DH's siblings to get his parents a digital picture frame with pics of all the grandkids) but we don't feel like we HAVE to give anything. One year I gave everybody a jar of homemade salsa...and several times we have done nothing. And, of course, we don't expect anything either.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1growingsprout View Post
ANYONE planning on doing a holiday e-mail instead of mailing cards?
My parents write up a nice christmas letter every year, but for about the last 4 years they have done it with clip art (or attaching digital family photos) and then they email it as an attachment. They do print up a few paper copies to send to my grandma who is scared of the internet and a couple other folks like that, but I'd say they now mail about 15 letters instead of 150. It DEFINITELY helps their budget!! We have not done that yet, but our list is only about 40 people...we don't have any particularly huge news this year though (didn't buy a house, move, have a baby, etc) so we might go digital this year too.
post #178 of 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tara2008 View Post
Recently we've been making homemade kettle corn and I've thought about giving big batches of it out at Christmas time.

Anyone know where the best place is to find air-tight containers or decorative plastic bags to put stuff like that in that are reasonably priced?

Recipe please?



For dd I'll be making dairy free hot dutch cocoa to mix in her rice milk for her morning cocoa. It makes the best hot cocoa ever no matter what milk you mix it in
post #179 of 389
the kettle corn recipe I've been using

http://seattlest.com/2007/02/23/oh_j...ettle_corn.php

Kettle Corn
As the name suggests, kettle corn must be made in something approximating a kettle (we used a 4-quart saucepan with a lid); an air popper (which for conventional popcorn is great) simply won’t do. This makes a largish portion for one, but feel free to double it.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons white sugar
kosher salt to taste
melted butter (optional)

In your saucepan, heat the oil and popcorn kernels over medium-high heat, shaking the pan to keep the kernels from burning. When the kernels are about to start popping, they will become slightly lighter in color, and most importantly, they will start to smell like popcorn. At this point, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels and cover. With the lid on, continue to cook the popcorn by gently shaking the pan over the heat. When the popping has slowed (don’t keep cooking until the very last kernel has popped, you will end up burning the sugar), remove the pan from heat and empty the popcorn into a large bowl. Toss with salt immediately (when the sugar on the popcorn is still hot and sticky, the salt will adhere to the kernels better) and sprinkle with melted butter if you like. Enjoy while still warm.
post #180 of 389
The kettle corn idea gave me another idea... I read the Vegan Lunch Box blog (and have her cookbook). A few Thanksgivings ago, she posted a recipe for her Native Blend Popcorn Balls, these caramelly popcorn balls with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries. I imagine it could be made into a caramel corn type of thing instead of popcorn balls & be packaged into containers or decorative bags, or the popcorn balls could be used as stocking stuffers!

Considering that The Popcorn Factory catalog sells a small tin of Cranberry Popcorn for $13, this could make a cool and inexpensive gift that rivals it!
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