Frugal (free, homemade) gifts for mainstream children - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-18-2006, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, it's me again. :

as I said in that other thread I started on this board, I have $10 to last until a week from Friday. everything is paid, gas in the car, pantry stocked but, yes, you guessed it "something came up".

The little girl I nannied until she started school this year is having a birthday party at the zoo on Sunday. It will cost dd and I $5 to get in, which leaves me almost nothing to spend on a gift for her. I don't feel comfortable going without a gift and I really, really want to go. We miss this little girl and my dd loves parties and loves the birthday girl. Dd and the birthday girl call each other "pretend sisters".

Thing is, this family (and their friends) are all very... mainstream. Not frugal at all. They shop at the mall and the girl I watched loves all things princessy and barbie/bratz related. She will be 6, but she isn't the type that would like most simple and homemade things. I am really at a loss as to what to do. I only have 4 days and no money, which would be challenging under most circumstances, but then I also have a very challenging person to make the gift for!

My options are: skip the party and stay home feeling heartbroken; go to the party without a gift and be embarrassed; get a small loan from inlaws to buy bd girl a plastic junk toy that she probably already has; get a slightly larger loan from inlaws to buy bd girl a higher quality type toy that she probably lose in a mountain of toys; or find something to make that she will probably lose in a mountain of toys.

:

Sorry, I feel gloomy. Anyone have any ideas?

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Old 10-18-2006, 04:48 PM
 
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Is there a specific activity she likes to do that you could take her to?

Like, if she loves the mall for example, give her a voucher for an afternoon at the mall and an ice-cream sundae. Or something like that.

Then she can set the date with you and your DD and have a fun afternoon together.
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Old 10-18-2006, 04:55 PM
 
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Definately do a Gift card from you to her to do something fun & special w/ your DD!

Kate, BioMama to Emma Lu, Elliana - Almost Mama to Martin, & Foster Mama to Baby T
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:02 PM
 
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You could make her a cookie mix in a jar. (Call it "Instant Princess Cookies" or something. You could even string some pretty beads on elastic to make a bracelet and put it around the neck of the jar for decoration.) Everyone likes cookies, and I have an oatmeal mix recipe that calls for things you probably already have on hand. (P.m. me if you want it.)

I'm the new poster-child for cookie mix in a jar , because I'm making it for all my children's teachers for Christmas, and I just think it's the coolest thing ever!

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Old 10-18-2006, 05:04 PM
 
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How about a pretty card you and dd make from stuff you have in the house, and a "gift cert" for a Princess Tea Party at your house in the near future, for her, dd, you, her mom, etc.

Then you can make cupcakes and let the girls ice them with fluffy pink icing and sprinkles, and use real teacups for an extra fancy fun time, etc.

Lisa, mama to Lauren, Elliot, angel Marion, and baby due in the fall.
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:04 PM
 
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Re-gift one of DD's toys?

Or you could make her a sweet little baby doll and sling. Who cares if they are mainstream, you get to pick the present.
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:08 PM
 
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Or you could make her a sweet little baby doll and sling. Who cares if they are mainstream, you get to pick the present.



Thats what I would do!
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:34 PM
 
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Do you have a craft store nearby? I have had good luck using 40% off coupons at Michael's and/or Joann Fabrics. Those fuzzy coloring posters are like $4.00 and you can apply the 40% off coupon or you could buy watercolor paint for $1.00 and four or five wooden pieces (Halloween, princess, whatever) for her to paint? I always buy art supplies for dss more mainstreamy friends.

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Old 10-18-2006, 05:37 PM
 
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Book stores always have good sales on children's books. You can get a good book for $5.00.
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Old 10-18-2006, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Re-gift one of DD's toys?

Or you could make her a sweet little baby doll and sling. Who cares if they are mainstream, you get to pick the present.
I get what you are saying, but I really want to give her a gift she will enjoy. She has baby dolls that cry, crawl, come with full wardrobes and every imaginable accessory - I think a simple baby doll will be all but completely ignored.

(In fact I know it will, I made her a Waldorf doll last year with purple glittery hair , which was her request, and last time I was at her house it was a dog toy. This is part of what is making me hesitant to put alot of effort into a handmade toy, to be honest. I know this family well enough to know that handmade does not rate any extra notice. I do not blame the 6yo, she is only following suit on the values of the rest of her family. A "good" toy is the latest expensive electronic thing, not simple thing handmade with love.)

Ahhh!

Princess things are great. A homemade basket could work - maybe things like glittery body lotion, lip gloss, nail polish etc would go over great, but even stuff like that cost money! This is the problem I am having.

Maybe I can manage some special way to make up a certificate inviting her to a princess pampering day at my house. Thanks for helping me brainstorm, keep the ideas coming!

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Old 10-18-2006, 06:02 PM
 
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I *love* the idea of inviting her for a Princess Tea Party for her and her mom. It's fun, it's personal, and it won't end up a doggy chew toy (how disheartening!) Her mom will like it because it's less clutter, and it extends her birthday. Do that!!
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:06 PM
 
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Our go-to gift that has been extremely popular with the recipients is bath stuff. We go to Target (in the $1/sample size section) and get a bath puff, Hello Kitty bath get, Hello Kitty lotion, and a clear lipgloss (or you could do Chapstick). They're each $1, so the present is <$5. My girlies love picking it out, and the birthday girls love having their own grownup bath stuff.
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:11 PM
 
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you can give her a homemade picture frame that your dd made for her, do you happen to have a nice photo of the two of them together? maybe your dd can also write a little poem for her "pretend sister" (that's so sweet! )

you can also give her a card that she can redeem for a princess pampering dress up tea party at your house. another activity that you can do is a ceramic painting or bead jewelry making activity either at your home or at one of those places that you can go to. if you have a camera, take lots of pictures of your dd and her together doing these activities, and then present them to her at a later time in a little photo album.
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:21 PM
 
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Honestly I have been in your shoes a couple times -- no money, and a kid's BD party to attend, where I know the kid in question already has every toy under the sun and will receive 20 more that day and will have absolutely no idea who gave them what anyway. I draw the line at spending my last few bucks on a throwaway item just so I do not walk in empty-handed. I really don't think most people notice anyway who comes in bearing what.

I do like the tea party idea though.
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Old 10-18-2006, 06:25 PM
 
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My favorite gift as a child was a denim pillow that was made out of an old pair of jeans. She had used the part with the pocket. Inside the pocket were a couple of lip gloss. I loved it. Or you could put in a card for the princess tea party. I love that idea.

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Old 10-18-2006, 06:49 PM
 
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thrift store?

maybe you could go to the fabric store and get some tulle and super fancy sparkly princessey material and make a quick tutu/skirt for dress-up? simple to make with an elastic waistband.

package really nicely with lots of tissue paper layers and whatever you do will probably be fine. they love the idea of opening stuff, y'know?

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Old 10-18-2006, 10:07 PM
 
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I was thinking along the same lines as beanma, but I was thinking yard sale. You can get a lot of costume type jewelry or dress up clothes or like new books, etc. Then use some creativity to figure out how to package it.

Also, what kind of crafting skills do you have? Recently I saw a crown that was knitted and then felted. I can't remember if it was a free pattern or not. This could work with some of the other ideas -- if you do the princess tea party idea, you could make one for each person attending the party. I'm not subscribing to this thread, so pm me a reminder if you are interested in the pattern. I'm pretty sure I printed it off, but not sure where I put it!

Is the party at the zoo because she particularly likes animals? Many zoos offer the ability to sponsor an animal for $20 or something per year. Some will give you posters or cards, etc and maybe a newsletter every 3 months or something telling you about what is happening with that animal or with the zoo. Maybe you could go to the party with a card and let her pick an animal that you will sponsor in her name.
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Old 10-19-2006, 12:36 AM
 
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Homemade playdough with sparkles in it, in a few colors? Princess Playdough???
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Old 10-19-2006, 02:41 AM
 
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how about making her a really frilly / fancy fabric "stuffed" crown that she can wear (think batted like a quilt, but round, and fits on the head just like a real crown). you could use plastic canvas to keep it stiff.

include that with one fancy tea cup (yayyy thrift stores!) and a special packet of tea, and a fancy invitation to a princess tea party with a specific date and time. ask her parents ahead of time if the date/time is okay.

you could even make her a matching wand

you can make "fairy princess" wings too out of wire hangers and panty hose and paint or dye. i use ribbon or fabric scraps i have on hand to make the ties. here's a good tutorial pretty wings

hth!
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:02 AM
 
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You could make her a tooth pillow from scraps of fabric, and any sparkly things you have around (since she sounds sparkly ). Make a small pillow (maybe 6x4"), and sew on a tiny pocket (1-2"). She could put her teeth in there for the tooth fairy.
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Old 10-19-2006, 11:18 AM
 
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y'know, i've been thinking about this...is there anything your dd would like to give her "pretend sister"? i'd try to offer her some of the ideas here that you like and see if she likes any of them or if she comes up with something on her own. are there any special games that your dd and the b-day girl like to play together? my dd1 and her best friend like to pretend to be cats, for example. if you can figure out something like that you can go from there (for example -- cat ears, or pretty "collars", or maybe a thrift store kitty cat all prettied up). i wouldn't invest a lot of time in creating something unless you can make it about the two of them.

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Old 10-19-2006, 11:51 AM
 
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I think the child will appreciate doing something with you over a gift becuase she already has to much stuff!

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Old 10-19-2006, 03:39 PM
 
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lol! I can't believe somebody suggested the EXACT thing I was going to say! princess playdoh! I just got this idea today for a party we are going to next weekend. My mil has this AWESOME play-doh recipe and I plan to use a used yogurt container (one of the big ones) and decorate it all princess-y, make purple and pink sparkly play-doh (and maybe make it scented? the kids and I just made "pumpkin" playdoh by making it orange and putting in nutmeg and cinnamon) and maybe throw in some sparkly pipe cleaners or something to stick in it... Anyway, this is the recipe if you (or anybody else) is interested. It makes the BEST play doh imo.

2 cups cold water w/ food coloring
2 cups flour
2 Tbs cooking oil
4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup salt

mix all ingredients in a nonstick pan.
cook over med. heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens.
remove playdoh from pan and allow to cool slightly.
knead playdoh until smooth.
store in baggie or container. no need to refridgerate.
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:45 PM
 
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Oh...I want to make pumpkin playdough now!

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Old 10-20-2006, 03:58 AM
 
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I think I would skip the party and invite the child to a park for an afternoon. You really love the girl. You won't get to spend time with her at a big party. Frankly, it would be really rude here to expect someone invited to a birthday party to pay for their own way into the zoo. That would be done by the birthday girl's parents.

I would also be concerned about the message being sent to your own child that you would spend money (which you clearly don't have) on another child. I can't image borrowing money for a birthday gift.

Did this family invite you because they like you or because they want you to bring a gift. I'll bet it's because they value you, not what you would bring. It seems to me that you are putting the pressure on yourself here. Not that they are labled "mainstream." Does that always mean people are selfish and shallow? I don't really believe that.

If you feel that you can't go without a nicer gift, then I would call the mom and tell her you can't make the party, but would love to see her dd and take her to a park for a couple hours and give the mom a break.
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Old 10-20-2006, 02:43 PM
 
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Another idea on the princess theme - maybe take a plain white coffee cup and decorate it with a little paint, some sparkles, even some glued on beads and make it her official Princess Tea Cup? Or maybe better would be a tea pot that you decorated?

I love all the ideas everyone gave out - I need to remember some of these and use them in the years to come!
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:18 PM
 
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Hey Veronica,
I made the pumpkin playdough with Eddie this morning, it is a great recipe!! At first I was a little worried b/c it was super sticky, but it all worked out and he is having a great time with it! It is fun to have such a huge glob of it instead of just the little glob from the playdough container!
Andrea
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Old 10-20-2006, 05:15 PM
 
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Lots of good ideas. Going back to the original:

Are you *sure* it will cost you to get in? In my world, when people have parties at "venues" (pool, botanical garden, zoo) the host pays for the children and parents to get in. With the invite there are usually instructions to say it's for "Zach's party" or the parents will meet the guests outfront and pay for everyone to go in.

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Old 10-21-2006, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Lots of good ideas. Going back to the original:

Are you *sure* it will cost you to get in? In my world, when people have parties at "venues" (pool, botanical garden, zoo) the host pays for the children and parents to get in. With the invite there are usually instructions to say it's for "Zach's party" or the parents will meet the guests outfront and pay for everyone to go in.
I am not positive I will have to pay to get in, in fact I am guessing I won't BUT I need to have that money on hand just in case I do, yk? What could be more embarrassing than being turned away at the gate, right?

Thanks for all the great ideas, I keep going back and forth. The latest idea I am sticking with is a homemade apron, a box of homemade sugar cookie cut outs, a recipe for frosting and a few different types of sprinkles and colored sugar.

I LOVE the princess playdoh idea - does anyone have a special way to package it? That's what I am stuck on, what container do I put it in to make it look nice? Also, I have a feeling her mom would kill me if I gave her playdoh - they have a brand new swanky house and she's the type that doesn't tolerate that sort of mess. kwim?

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Old 10-21-2006, 08:11 PM
 
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I am not positive I will have to pay to get in, in fact I am guessing I won't BUT I need to have that money on hand just in case I do, yk? What could be more embarrassing than being turned away at the gate, right?

Thanks for all the great ideas, I keep going back and forth. The latest idea I am sticking with is a homemade apron, a box of homemade sugar cookie cut outs, a recipe for frosting and a few different types of sprinkles and colored sugar.

I LOVE the princess playdoh idea - does anyone have a special way to package it? That's what I am stuck on, what container do I put it in to make it look nice? Also, I have a feeling her mom would kill me if I gave her playdoh - they have a brand new swanky house and she's the type that doesn't tolerate that sort of mess. kwim?

We make playdoh for presents and we just buy those tiny tupperware type containers that are like 5/$1. But i thik you could use some cute looking jar and put ribbon around the top?

The good thing about the homemade playdough is it coes out of carpets easily. As i found out the other day...
DD rubbed about 3 cups of bright green dough into our carpet :

For the dough i add sugar free (ya know the kind you add sugar too) koolaid to it. Then not only do you get cool colors but also a yuuuuumy scent. WE ahve grape, lime, pink lemonade, cherry and orange playdoh here and the whole house smells yummy when we play with it
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