Mothering Forums - Reply to Topic

Thread: Mothering's "Frugal Holiday Gift Ideas" Contest Reply to Thread
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

  Topic Review (Newest First)
11-25-2009 11:52 PM
georgia In the spirit of the holidays, I also wanted to announce that everyone who entered the contest will receive a free three month Supporting Membership I. Thank you so much for generously sharing your time and tips.

Once you see the Supporting Membership "S" under your username: you can place your avatar and turn your name pink if you wish:

Supporting Member I
  • Place a 100X100 pixel avatar image below your username (no larger than 8 kb and non-animated)
  • Use unlimited smilies within your two-line signature
  • Change your user title via your User CP
  • PM inbox capacity of up to 500 private messages
  • Share up to 50 photos in your photo album
  • All supporting memberships entitle you to unlimited selling privileges in the MDC Trading Post
Please Note: Supporting Membership packages do not allow for signature advertising. Signature advertising must be purchased separately (see above). Once your subscription has been processed and you see “S” under your username, go to your User CP, click on Group Memberships and turn yourself pink. Thanks for your support of MDC!
Please PM me with any questions
11-25-2009 09:45 PM
georgia Hi! I apologize for the delay in the announcement of winning selections. I am pleased to announce the following posts that were chosen for inclusion:

12 newspaper
13 raisin bread
16 coloring book
25 garden spices
32 CDs
44 brownie pops
45 gift of time
47 crafting sessions
51 handcrafted letter
53 dishtowel wrapping

Winners will be contacted via PM with subscription instructions. Congratulations! Thanks to everyone for participating!!!! Please be on the lookout over at for the upcoming Frugal Gifts feature!

Happy (Frugal) Holidays from MDC!!!
11-19-2009 10:08 AM
Ruthiegirl I love to sew and often have bits of fabric to use up. This year, I am making everyone a set of cloth napkins using fabric from my stash as well as some great vintage fabric I found second-hand. Each napkin takes a few minutes to stitch together, so this has been a great project to work on while the children are playing, the baby is napping, or I simply have 10 minutes to work. My eight year old daughter has been learning to sew and has done a few for her grandmothers. They will love them.
11-19-2009 09:42 AM
GreenFlower The best thing I've learned for frugal gift-giving (for children) is costumes! Every year, after halloween, I wait until the costumes go down to about 10%-25% of the original cost (meaning they end up costing less than $5 per costume). Then I purchase new costumes to give to my children, nieces, nephews, etc., for their costume/dress-up boxes! The kids LOVE seeing what new costumes they get. Everything from pirates to doctors, jedi knights, princesses, and everything in between. It's a big hit and is VERY inexpensive!
11-18-2009 11:19 PM
ArtsyMomma I keep a list of everyone I need to shop for in the back of my day planner, then I can shop sales year round and find the perfect gift without the holiday rush. Although, the most frugal gifts I've given have been homemade and upcycled. In years past I've made trivets made out of wine bottle corks and coasters made from board games that were missing pieces and from felted wool sweaters from the thrift store. Last year we gave my mother a set of framed artwork. We bought 6 8x10 frames from the dollar store and cut out and matted the pictures from an old calendar. This year we are using the burned out mini light bulbs from last years colored light strands to make ornaments. Take the bulbs, glue them into a styrofoam sphere from the craft store and add a ribbon to hang with!
11-18-2009 07:45 PM
possum My 2.5 year old son is enjoying painting small wooden cut-outs of stars and snowflakes with silver, gold, yellow, white and blue paints. We are using Daddy's drill to make a small hole in the top of each one, and hanging them with a ribbon. The supplies for 20 cost about $6 at a local craft store, have given him hours of painting pleasure, and will cheer friends and family this year and for years to come when they see them on their trees.
11-18-2009 07:27 PM
luvbugs Last year I made aprons with remnant fabric I already had including sheets that had seen better days. After cutting the good sides off of the sheets I was able to make 4 aprons per sheet - put that with a receipe card of a dish I knew the recipient loved (different ones for different people) and a jar of homemade spice rub (in recycled glass jars) and put all in a canvas grocery bag (Whole foods sold their cloth ones for $1 for a day last year and i stocked up).

Looking through this list already posted - great ideas for this year! Thanks!
11-18-2009 07:19 PM
robidora So have you ever found some old wallpaper sample books at your parents or grandparents house? I sure did! I just found 10 wallpaper sample books and will be using those this year for wrapping presents instead of buying wrapping paper! The designs are great, especially one in particular that I found with a bunch of flannel prints! I live in VT! It goes perfectly!
11-18-2009 05:20 PM
velochic If traveling for the holidays, be mindful that certain dates of travel now carry a hefty surcharge when purchasing airline tickets. If you can travel the morning of the actual holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years), you can get up to 75% off the cost of a ticket. Don't set your dates in stone... with flexibility, you can get some very deep discounts on your holiday travel.
11-18-2009 05:15 PM
Sydnee Two things I'm doing this year...

Homemade sugar scrubs that I put into beautiful cruets that I found at a garage sale. Homemeade tags made with my Cricut machine and tied onto the bottles. The second thing I am making are photo cubes made out of wooden block scraps from my hubby's stash. Spray painted black, and decoupage photos of my kids onto them.

These gifts cost next to nothing!
11-18-2009 05:02 PM
newmomrose I am making cloth napkins for all of my adult relatives this year. Some of the fabric I bought new on sale, and some is left over from other projects, torn sheets, and un-used curtains. We have a serger so I will be able to quickly serge the edges, but you could also turn and stitch. This gift is inexpensive and helps the recipient to be more green as well! We are also giving pepper jelly that we made from peppers from our garden this summer. It is red and green, so goes with the holidays.
11-18-2009 03:33 PM
Liea An easy holiday gift that I like to give is to make my own bath salts. Simply place Epsom salts in a Ziploc bag, add a few drops of essential oil (my favorite is lavender and sandalwood,) and shake well. Natural food coloring can also be added to spice it up and then you can place the salts in a variety of containers from glass to decorative cellophane (look for some at the thrift store.) Paired with a candle and placed in a basket, this makes the perfect pampering gift!
11-18-2009 03:27 PM
runbeck1 My toddler loves playing kitchen but doesn't have a lot of play food. Instead of buying new food I am making my own from yarn. Using scrap yarn I already own and some other recycled yarn I am crocheting food. Fruit, veggies, pieces of a sandwich, eggs and bacon, and even dessert! I have found patterns for free online and created my own.
11-18-2009 03:18 PM
Taradactyl3 Another idea I'm doing for neighbors and teachers is to make homemade granola and pack it into mason jars decorated with fabric scraps and ribbon. It is good with milk, on yogurt or ice cream or just straight from the jar. Again, there are lots of great recipes on line for yummy granola and you can feel good about giving something healthier and more versatile than candy.
11-18-2009 03:16 PM
Taradactyl3 I like to sew little tote bags as gifts out of scrap fabric. Then I'll use paint to paint an initial or outline of a favorite animal on the pocket. Tote bags are good gifts for boys or girls and for kids or adults. If you want to go further, sometimes I even put a baked good or book inside the bag and then the bag is part gift wrap and part gift itself. There are lots of simple tutorials on how to sew tote bags online and you don't have to be a whiz on the machine to make a cute one.
11-18-2009 03:10 PM
Traci mom23boys I ordered bulk black tea, cinnamon chips, ginger, allspice, cloves, black pepper and cardamom from Mountain Rose Herbs to make a delicious homemade Chai for most people on my list. I am still working on the perfect blend. You really can't go wrong though. I put the spices in my food processor and then combine with the tea. I am looking for old jars at thrift stores and will embellish with ribbon and a handmade tag with directions.

11-18-2009 02:30 PM
Lora0404 My idea is to take this recipe for homemade playdoh (which can be scented with essential oils if you like):,199,...254202,00.html and do a few different colors and store in baby food jars or small mason jelly jars and add a ribbon and an expiration date and presto! -- nice, all natural, non-toxic, frugal gift for kiddos
11-18-2009 02:29 PM
SarahsMom08 Rather than using paper, try wrapping your gifts in a dish towel tied with a ribbon. A bright yellow dish towel tied with a bright red ribbon looks cute, festive, and unique! You can buy a 5-pack of dishtowels for only slightly more than a roll of wrapping paper. Best of all, the towel becomes part of the gift, which is much more practical and environmentally friendly than wrapping paper doomed for the trash can. Some frugal ideas to place inside the towel are: homemade jam, a photobook filled with your favorite handwritten recipes, a mixed assortment of herbal teas, or other homemade goodies.
11-18-2009 02:03 PM
georgia Hi, everyone! Just a reminder the contest closes tonight, so please get your entries posted if you've not already done so. Thanks!!!
11-18-2009 12:35 PM
dancebaraka Exploring the history of our holidays, we find that the emphasis on consumerism is a modern phenomenon, often imposed by powerful large corporations. This holiday season, I will take some wisdom from our foremothers and sit quietly to hand write letters and greetings to loved ones. It feels refreshingly connecting to receive a thoughtful note in this age of fast-paced communication and digital technology. So many of us have too much of everything, but find ourselves hungry for appreciation and acknowledgment. The simple and frugal act of crafting the perfect, heart-felt letter to a beloved friend or family member might yield one of the most prized gifts of the season!

11-18-2009 08:47 AM
velochic For the adults in the family, we are doing a "favor" swap instead of gifts. Each adult in the family is giving of their time to do something for another family member during the year. For example, my sister and I are going to swap "spring cleaning" weekends. In the springtime, I will spend a weekend helping her get her deep cleaning done and she will spend a weekend helping me. My BIL is going to help me and dh get our garden in and we will hand-wash and wax his precious truck in return. This doesn't work for all family members, but if people live close and have a good relationship with their family, it's a wonderful way to keep giving throughout the year without spending a dime.
11-18-2009 08:41 AM
velochic Instead of buying toys for the nieces and nephews in the family, I am making them homemade snack/lunch kits for school. I am sewing reusable "ziplock" bags made in a pattern that fits their personality, lined with food-grade PUL, and closed with velcro. I will also be make matching fabric/PUL sandwich wraps, cloth napkins and a small tote to carry everything in. I have purchased some inexpensive, smaller utensils that will fit into a small pocket in the tote. Each tote will be customized with their names. Everything will be reusable and washable. Both frugal and economical, most of this can all be sewn with cloth remnants from the personalized pillowcases I sewed for them last year.
11-18-2009 01:26 AM
moma justice This idea is free, green, AND promotes community. I help organize a holiday toy swap. Anyone who registers shows up at the swap with their kids’ unwanted toys. They then assign a point value to each item and place them in the corresponding piles. The moms take turns picking toys from the piles and use up all the points that they have to spend according to how many points they brought to swap. At the end, the unwanted toys get donated to a local charity (instead of going to the landfill) and all of us moms get a bunch of new-to-you gifts for their kids for the holidays; WITHOUT all the disposable packaging! Moms often weed out their kids’ unused toys before the holidays anyway so this event is awesome for so many reasons. AND to top it off, instead of charging a participation fee, we found a free place to hold the event and have asked all swappers to bring a canned food item to donate to our local food bank instead!
11-17-2009 05:57 PM
GemmaL What a fabulous contest!

I am enjoying preparations for this holiday season and it is great to think about ways to spread a little cheer

We are having several crafting sessions where my children and their friends can make a number of different projects (i.e., repurposed felted sweaters made into coasters with hand embroidery; scented play clay; knitting kits with yarn, dowels made into knitting needles, stitch markers; gardening kits with seeds we have harvested from the garden, various ornaments including pinecone gnomes, etc.) They can then set up a "shop" where their younger siblings can select from the items they have made/put together to give as gifts for the holidays.

For my grownup friends I am taking vintage/flea market linen towels and fashioning them into bread keeping bags. I will include a home bake something along with the recipe.
11-17-2009 05:08 PM
earthmama369 I see a lot of folks have posted wonderful ideas for holiday gifts, so I'll address the shopping and preparation side of things. I have had the most wonderful luck with buying co-ops. Through combining my own buying power with that of others and qualifying for discounts, wholesale prices, and even sale prices on wholesale items, I have saved thousands of dollars over the years. It takes a little luck and advance planning, but it's well worth it.

Two years ago I created individualized baskets of "pamper" products for friends and family. I found lovely baskets through freecycle and looked up recipes and instructions to create everything from scented bath salts and body lotions to teas, chocolates, incense, soaps, herbal and aftershave gel. Each basket had at least six gifts in it. By buying ingredients and jars in bulk and then customizing the baskets for each person, I was able to create lovely gifts that would have cost well over $60 each if I had bought them off the shelf. How much did they cost me? $6-8 per basket.
11-16-2009 11:16 PM
emelsea My Grandmother passed away last spring, but when she was alive, she had two of everything, and never wanted her children or grandchildren to buy her anything, and most of the family bought her gift cards or certificates for restaurants. Many years ago, I was broke and couldn't afford to buy gifts, so I made a very pretty card for Grandma, and inside I promised her that one weekend a month I would come over to her house and do the chores that she didn't like to do, or couldn't do herself. I changed light bulbs, raked leaves, defrosted her freezer - whatever she needed. I "gave" her the same gift every year after that and after the first year, her gift to me became to make me dinner once a month, on the day I came to do her chores.

I think this makes a great gift for an elderly relative, neighbor or friend. Or for anyone on your list - maybe your Mom hates to weed her flower beds, or your sister never finds time to wash her windows or your best friend wants help organizing her attic. You don't have to promise to do something every month, you could pledge to do something seasonally or even just once.

It's free, can be eco-friendly and gives you the opportunity to spend time with someone special.
11-16-2009 10:20 PM
olliepop I'm making brownie pops for neighbors, teachers, and friends. One batch of brownies yields 44 pops. All you need are sticks, bags, and silver twist ties, white chocolate, and brownies, of course.

Bake fudge brownies, roll into balls, insert sticks, dip into melted white chocolate, sprinkle with jimmies or sanding sugar. They are very rich so I usually don't give more than six. You can tie a bundle of pops together with a really pretty bow and gift card.
11-16-2009 09:28 PM
Gretchen_PDX The adults in my family are doing a White Elephant gift exchange. The rules are that the gift needs to cost zero dollars. You can bring something from your home or make something from stuff found in your home. Each person will also put $15 into a collective pot that will be donated to a charity voted on by the participating members. The real fun will come when the stealing portion of the exchange comes to play!
11-16-2009 08:22 PM
PiesandAbrosmama I am so excited for homemade gifts this year! #1 Recycled sweater leg warmers super cute and fun. Just get a old sweater cut off sleeves, turn inside out, pin to size you want, sew a straight line down, turn right side out, add embellishments to upper part such as buttons and patches ect. #2 Herb vinegar's- I grew the herbs then placed cut herbs in a mason jar with white vinegar, shake once a day for a week or until achieved flavor, filter through coffee filter into clean sanitized bottle of choice (I used recycled bourbon bottles), add label and gift give make a set with oil and recipe for fav salad dressings. Happy gift giving!
11-16-2009 02:51 PM
caiesmommy Can't believe I forgot the cheapest gift I'm doing!

Our family is going to get our portraits done. We're going where there is no sitting fee and buying the smallest package(9.99). I've been buying normal 5x7 frames from the second hand store for .25-1.00. And I'm going to photocopy the pictures for .35 each meaning the gifts will cost about 1.50 each And our family is looking so forward to having our first family picture!!
This thread has more than 30 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off