2011 Frugal Xmas (and other holidays) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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

 


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#2 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 12:39 AM
 
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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.

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#3 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 08:19 AM
 
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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.


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#4 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 08:20 AM
 
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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.


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#5 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 08:50 AM
 
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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. 


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#6 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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http://www.mothering.com/community/t/695265/2007-frugal-holiday-challenge

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/216812/the-0-holiday-challenge

 

Here are 2 threads I found.


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#7 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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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.
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#9 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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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.

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#10 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 12:20 PM
 
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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.


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#11 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 02:16 PM
 
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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.  


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#12 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 02:21 PM
 
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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.


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#13 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 02:48 PM
 
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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.

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#14 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 04:29 PM
 
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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.

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#15 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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Im not sending gifts to out of town family members... Just getting things for DS.


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#16 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 06:29 PM
 
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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.

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#17 of 98 Old 09-22-2011, 11:20 PM
 
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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.


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#18 of 98 Old 09-23-2011, 04:57 AM
 
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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

 


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#19 of 98 Old 09-23-2011, 09:03 AM
 
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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.


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#20 of 98 Old 09-23-2011, 04:21 PM
 
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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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#21 of 98 Old 09-23-2011, 04:39 PM
 
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I think I will be taking inventory of my craft stash this weekend and putting on my creativity hat.

DS is going 'north' for a few days.

 

MOMMY IS HOME ALONE.... oh no!


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#22 of 98 Old 09-25-2011, 01:39 PM
 
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#23 of 98 Old 09-26-2011, 09:49 PM
 
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I've started thinking about Christmas. That's something. So far I've "bought" DD some fancy stickers from a mystery shopping assignment (so, free).

 

My other ideas....

 

-MIL: knit some dishcloths or face cloths with cabled owls on them. She collects owls. Need to findsome knittable, washable cotton or something to knit 'em out of, though.

 

-DD: I want to buy a cheapish second-hand doll house online and do it up (at Mum's house so she won't see). I figure I could put the dolls and furniture in her stocking, then give her the house as her big gift. I could also make a summer dress or top for her; and I'm making a shoulder bag for her right now, but I might end up giving it to her before Christmas. I can also do chapstick and a new toothbrush for stocking stuffers - she loves them.

 

-SIL: She's pretty crunchy, so maybe make her some cheesecloths bound with nice fabric, for straining yoghurt or whatever? Or some gluten-free baking?

 

-Mum: I was thinking of making her a felted hydrangea table runner, but I don't have a pattern for one or anything; it's just an idea. So I'll think about this.

 

-DH: I need to finish the manly apron I was making him for his birthday (in March.... yeah). It has tools and guns and car keys and stuff machine-embroidered all over it. Not sure what else to get him.

 

-DS: Ehh, dunno. He's a baby. Maybe a plushie airship? Need to make him a stocking, too.

 

-Dad: Hmm. A big ol' bucket of olives? Or some fancy cheese? Something foody. Or a plant for his garden.

 

-Everybody else (including several sisters, two nephews, FIL and a bunch of friends) - no idea.

 

I found free range turkeys, but the smallest size is $44 so unless DH insists, we'll probably have chicken again.


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#24 of 98 Old 09-27-2011, 03:39 AM
 
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Great thread! We just started thinking about the holidays a week ago which is probably an indication that we won't escape too frugally. blush.gif At the beginning of each year, I always make a list of things I'd like to make for everyone, and then all that free time I imagined in January just seems to vanish?

 

Anyway. We were able to pick up a large box of peaches at our state farmer's market for $15. I made what feels like a lifetime supply of peach jam, so together with canned pickles and blueberry jam, those will definitely be given as holiday gifts.

 

I also made vanilla extract earlier this year (someone else mentioned that as well) and earlier, I was able to swap crafts and craft supplies with someone who made hand towels. When my son was younger (and would sit still!), I wound up balls and felted them so I have a good stash of dryer balls now, too.

 

My original plans had included making a small basket for each household (ie mom/dad, MIL/FIL, SIL/BIL, brother/sister), it's starting to shape up a little.  In addition to the above, I'm also going to roast a pound of coffee beans (I can get a 5-lb bag of green coffee for about $20) for each basket. I may also knit dishcloths, but that's dependent on time. 

 

My son just turned one.  For the holidays, my father is going to build him a wooden play kitchen. I found several books on knitted food, so I'll make a stash of knitted fruits and veggies for him.  Earlier this year, I found someone on Hyena Cart that was selling her pots/pans/etc for a song, so I picked those up. I'd also like to knit him a hat and mittens for the winter, but since we plan on redoing his room soon, this will likely be it.  

 

I have no idea about my husband, though. Most of the time, we end up spending too much money on one another which we really should stop doing. :/ Any ideas that don't cost a lot?

 

This year, I started dabbling in herbalism and I have a small cabinet in our kitchen full of tinctures. For some of our friends who appreciate the benefits of herbal remedies, I'm going to make a small basket of the most commonly used tinctures (echinacea, etc.) and some salves. 

 

Also - how do you other crafty mamas find time to craft? Since my son's arrival, between working from home full time and caring for him full-time (as in: he's had a babysitter ONCE in his life for four hours), I just feel like he's constantly needing attention. It's fine, of course, but I feel bad for my unloved stash of yarn sitting upstairs and my brain needs a creative outlet.  How do you find time to juggle being a good mama AND working, taking care of the house and managing to get enough sleep? :) 


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#25 of 98 Old 09-27-2011, 03:40 AM
 
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I'm excited about Christmas this year.  Don't know why, we're not planning anything special.  But it will be nice to have dh home this year.

 

Not too much planned right now.  We won't have a tree, but some tenants left behind a brand new box of 200 mini white lights, which I am going to find a way to use.  I loooove white lights.  And my Ikea star lamp will go up as soon as I find a bulb for it.

 

I have one commissioned quilt in the works, and that will probably be what we use to pay for gifts for the rest of the family.  For my boys I am planning to make some cozy flannel pj's, but I have to wait on that until JoAnne's has their sale so I can get enough fabric at a reasonable price.

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#26 of 98 Old 10-20-2011, 03:22 PM
 
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just discovered an large but necessary home repair... frugal Christmas could definitely be in order...

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#27 of 98 Old 10-22-2011, 02:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cameragirl View Post

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.



Hey for those of you doing canned goods... start checking out the stores now as some of them have started marking down their canning supplies. Target had a bunch marked down today. Lowes had a bunch of canning items marked down too. Sometimes you can find them in odd places!

 

 

Also Big Lots had cases of "off brand" jelly jars for $6-$7. And Walmart has an off brand also that is cheaper than Ball jars.

 

 

A big ball of twine will wrap around a jar nicely and make a "green" bow.  thumb.gif

 

 

 


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#28 of 98 Old 10-22-2011, 02:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zebra15 View Post

I think I will be taking inventory of my craft stash this weekend and putting on my creativity hat.

DS is going 'north' for a few days.

 

MOMMY IS HOME ALONE.... oh no!



Did you end up making anything fun?  orngbiggrin.gif


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#29 of 98 Old 10-22-2011, 08:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by EarthyMamaofDaisy View Post
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.


This is fantastic, since we play a lot of board games at our house and will certainly introduce them to our son when he gets older (he's only five weeks now, so a little young for games yet). But here's the link to the Hasbro coupons that EarthyMammaofDaisy mentioned. 

 

I love this thread - everyone has some great ideas. 

 

In recent years, the adults in our family have stopped doing gift giving - we all have everything we need and want, and it ended up being this meaningless exercise of exchanging gift cards. I still do a little food gift basket for my sister and her husband, as well as my in laws each year since I love to foodcraft and share the wealth. This year I'm doing an apple themed basket - apple spice schnapps, apple peel jelly and a home made apple-scented soy candle in a mason jar. I pretty much have all the supplies for those items in my crafting gear already, so it will cost me next to nothing. 

 

I have two nieces, and my sister says they're really into bath toys and items right now, so I'm making them a bathtime gift set - they're each getting a tote bag sewn from a towel, filled with bath fizzies, soap crayons, and a washcloth puppet. They will also each get some books from us, from the thrift store. We always give books to help build their library. 

 

My in laws are also getting a hand print ornament with my son's handprint on it. I had a $20 gift card from BuyBuyBaby from someone so I got two kits (one for us, one for them) with no out of pocket cost to us. I'm also doing a photo book on Shutterfly for them, which I'm getting done for FREE with a $20 Shutterfly credit that I got when I signed up for the Similac StrongMoms club. Registration on that is free (they will also send you formula coupons and samples, which is great if you have to supplement occasionally like I do) and even though it says it's good on Shutterfly birth announcements, you can use it on any Shutterfly product that qualifies (no other discounts applied at the same time). 

 

My husband and I always set a dollar amount limit for each other - some years it's $50 and some years it's $100, depending on the budget. This year it will be $50 or less since things are tight. And I'm encouraging hand made - my husband kind of feels like there's nothing good he could make me himself, but I'm dropping hints on things he could put together for me or pick up at the thrift store - I even made a Pinterest board for him with ideas! For him, there are two things I'm going to try to make that I think he'd really like. One is this pocketwatch photo album since he loves to show off photos of our son. The other is a jar shelf for his miniatures - he can store the little bits and pieces in the jars (storage is always a problem for him!) and display the finished pieces on the top of the shelf. 

 

For our son, over the summer I purchased fabric play fruit and play veggie baskets from Ikea. And I'm going to finish his baby quilt and make an embroidered name plaque for him. I also picked up some mini Sesame Street board books for his stocking at a Goodwill a few weeks ago. And I'm planning to make some felt baby booties for his stocking, as well as a fabric rattle - not sure if I'll do the giraffe - I was thinking a fish shape might be cute too. 

 

Now I really need to get on making all of this stuff! 


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#30 of 98 Old 10-22-2011, 09:09 AM
 
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I have no end of ideas for frugal, homemade gifts for my daughters and mom, female teachers, etc... but really struggle with what to give/get for my husband and teen son and other males on our list.  This sweet blog & and comments on each post have some great suggestions specifically for guys:

 

http://plainandjoyfulliving.blogspot.com/2010/07/handmade-holiday-teenage-boys.html  

 

http://plainandjoyfulliving.blogspot.com/2010/07/handmade-holiday-for-men.html

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