Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas on a Budget: 5 Steps to a $$$ Stress Free Holiday

I know that this time of year can be stressful. Some are watching their wallets, some are watching their weight and some are just stressed over everything they have to do in such a short amount of time. There's the baking, the shopping, the gift wrapping and then finding that perfect outfit for New Year's Eve. The office holiday parties, the family get togethers and the frequent trips to stand in line at the mall are enough to drive anyone bonkers during December.

So, how can you keep the Christmas cheer and not break the bank? Well, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:

Step 1: Make the Gifts Yourself

If you are crafty, you can make a ton of gifts yourself. Not only will the gift be handmade by you, but the gift will be unique and not one of those mass produced gifts. Plus, most of the time, you'll either have the supplies to make the gift on hand or be able to purchase the supplies on even the tightest of budgets.

Can you sew, knit, crochet, embroider, glue paper, draw, scrapbook, or use a lathe? Ok, maybe you don't have a lathe. But there are some really wonderful gifts a woodworker can make (dovetail boxes, pens, ornaments, a nativity creche, jewelry box, etc.).

Ok, so what can the crafter in you make? Here are some nifty ideas to spark the crafty gene into gear:

  • knit or crochet a scarf for that cold bodied friend of yours

  • make a set of coasters for those party animal friends

  • create a handmade bookmark for the bookworm

  • crochet a set of hangers for the shop-a-holic

  • sew finger puppets for the little ones

  • make some marble magnets out of old maps for the folks who love to travel

  • melt a vinyl record to make a popcorn bowl for the movie buff

  • sew a reusable grocery bag for the your vegan friend

  • copy heirloom recipes onto handmade recipe cards for the nostalgic cook

  • make handmade sheets of paper from recycled paper for your pen pal

  • melt old broken crayons into dixie cups to make chubbie crayons for budding little artists

Here are some crafty places to get you started:
Not Martha
DIY Network

Step 2: Bake Your Gifts

If you can bake, the ideas are endless and delicious:

  • Write your most prized recipes on handmade cards with a small antecdote

  • The old stand by: bake cookies and include your recipe on a card

  • Make a mix in a jar (pancakes, biscuits, special spice mixes, etc.)

  • Homemade candy in a jar or gift box

Here are some yummy places to get you started:

Baking Gifts at
Marth Stewart Edible Gifts
Christmas Baked Goods

Step 3: Write Your Gifts

Maybe you are talented with words, or have trouble saying what you mean. Well, you can make your gift be the gift of words.

Here are some ideas to get the pen rolling:

  • Write a love letter and say all those sweet nothings you've kept bottled inside

  • Compose a poem (and let it rhyme if you want!)

  • Make handmade cards for someone who is housebound and loves to send cards (add stamps to the envelopes, if it's in the budget)

Step 4: Go Techno

Have you got the knack for music, playlists, or photography? If you've got a computer and a printer (a scanner, audio converter, and analog to dvd converter are also helpful), you can make some great homemade techno gifts.

Here are some computer savy ideas to get those gifts digitized:

  • Burn a CD of family photos with funny captions

  • Burn a CD of travel photos accompanied by your own audio narration

  • Make a DVD of baby photos and/or movies for the grandparents

  • Create a holiday music CD for the son or daughter in Iraq

  • Scan old photos or slides and make vintage prints for your family to re-enjoy

Step 5: Recycle an Old Gift

Now, you'll have to be careful. Don't give Aunt Sally the same green vase she gave you last year. Instead, think of new uses for old objects. And remember, regifting or rethinking an object is really a way to be environmentally friendly!

Here are some recycled ideas for the eco-friendly gift giver:

  • Re-cover a journal using a: 5.25" floppy disk, cereal box, calendar picture, vintage poster, etc..

  • Inside out a stuffed animal for a funky art doll

  • Use scrabble tiles to create earrings, magnets, pendants or cufflinks

  • Make a votive candle holder from an empty can (be sure and clean the can and make sure there are no sharp edges)

  • Make a Christmas ornament from one of those "junk mail" CD's

You can enjoy Christmas! Just take a deep breath and don't let the little things get in the way. If you haven't got two cents to rub together, you can have a bountiful holiday by giving the gift of yourself.

Secret Bonus Tip: Give Time

If you are stone cold broke, you can always give your time. Make handmade coupons that are redeemable for a night of babysitting for your sister and brother-in-law who need a date night, an afternoon of gardening for your elderly friend who is recovering from hip surgery, or maybe a coupon to spend time with your Grandpa who loves to play checkers and smoke cigars.

It's not about the money. You are taking the time to think of someone during Christmas. You are making the time to create something that they can't find on the shelf at their local mall.

And lastly, you had a stress free holiday because you took the $ out of Christmas.

~Merry Christmas~

Bark at you later,
PJ the dog blogging dog :-)


Polly Peirce | 4:43 AM

Woof! Our mistress has been working on similar principals to those you have outlined in your post.

The only problem with her is that she is so untidy she can't ever find what she's looking for! Months afterwards she finds that perfect gift...the one she bought in July!

Her other problem is that she can't ween herself off that flaming computer for long enough to put all her great ideas into practise!!!

That was a great post though! Maybe it'll inspire her... Woof, woof, woof!

Gypsophillus & TilleyToo