Monday, October 26, 2009

What Will You Give This Christmas?

Its the most wonderful time of the year. Can't you just hear that song ringing in your ears? Well, for some this year is going to be the most stressful time of the year. This year has been a tough year for us as it is for many people in our nation. With the holidays fast approaching I've been thinking about what type of gifts I can give my family that will fit into a very small budget. I hear people say all the time, "Its not going to be a good Christmas this year because we just don't have any extra." I hope you don't fall into that trap. I hope you will start now, planning for not a good Christmas but a GREAT one! Sometimes, the best gifts are gifts that cost very little. This year is a tough year for millions of people and we are not exempt. We are blessed however with two boys who never ask for expensive items, two boys who never one time have fussed about getting clothes or shoes from the thrift store, two boys who never demand bigger and better. Each year they are more then grateful for what they receive. Because of this attitude it really takes the burden of Christmas off our shoulders knowing they will be thankful no matter what ends up under the tree. One of my favorite things to do at Christmas is give gifts to my family so instead of falling into the "woe is me trap", I've learned that with just a little planning we can create a special Christmas and still give gifts to give our family. I LOVE giving and seeing the vast array of Christmas paper under the tree on Christmas Eve. I always spend a little time alone on Christmas Eve sitting in the living room with all the light off except for the Christmas tree. I just spend a little time alone with the Lord thanking him for His many blessings and reflecting on the meaning of the special day. There are so many things I love about Christmas that I look forward to sharing with you through out this season.

The following is my top 10 list of items you can give that cost very little but will mean so much...

  1. Homemade Coupon Booklet - My parents love these. We include items like wash the car, fix a meal, clean house, mow the lawn, be creative and present it in a creative way.

  2. Scrapbook of Memories - My sister-in-law gave scrapbook calendars out a few years ago and my Mom loved it.
  3. Homemade Jewelery and Crafts - Now don't fall into the "I'm not a crafter trap" making jewelery and crafts is very simple. Its just like ever other adventure in your life, you have to teach yourself to become crafty. If you go to the craft store and ask they are happy to show you or you can take a class for just a few dollars. If you can tie a knot, you can create a beautiful piece of jewelery. I love the button broaches. Glue old buttons to a scrap of felt or a cut out shape, layer with your favorite buttons, glue a pen backing and your done. Easy but what a great gift, especially if you're creative with your buttons maybe use buttons from your child's dress or your Grandmothers nightgown. Again, be creative you can do it! Go here for more great button crafts from Martha Stewart. Make sure when you're creating a craft, its something YOU would want and not just junk that will end up in the trash or on the worst Christmas gift list!
  4. Homemade Play-dough - Recipe: 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of salt, 1 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil, 1/3 cup cold water, 7-10 drops, Gallon Zip Lock Bag. Mix flour, salt and oil mix well and set to the side. Next add food coloring with water. Now, add water to flour mixture and put in a gallon zip lock bag. Knead. Store in Refrigerator. You can put several colors in small containers, decorate with stickers, put in a basket with some cookie cutters, some wiggle eyes, pipe cleaners and some plastic knives and you have a great gift that any child would love! I bet they will get hours of fun out of this gift!

  5. Good Books - Did you know the local thrift shops sells used books and cookbooks? I find good books all the time and many of them are brand new! Just last week I purchased 12 children's hardback books for just $7.80. Four of the books sold new for $16.99 each. On 12 hardback books I I saved $139.00!!! All but 2 were brand new. When I get a book I always look to see if there are pages missing and I make sure there is no writing on the inside. This would make a great gift for anyone on your list.

  6. Homemade Goodies - I don't know about your parents, but my parents never really ask for anything. When I was little I would ask Dad what he wanted for Christmas and he would always say, "Oh, just a hug and a kiss." Now that I am grown he still says that but I like to give him more then that. My Mom always says she likes service gifts. Gifts to help her in daily life. A few years ago I froze and vacuum sealed three week of meals and gave them to her for Christmas. She was thrilled to have three weeks of meals to fill her freezer. Look in you're cookbooks, I bet you have something yummy you could make that would brighten the recipients day.

  7. Family Cookbook - We all have those cherished recipes that will be forever gone if they don't get written down and passed from generation to generation. I know my husband would give his right arm (well, maybe not is right arm but definitely his left arm) to have his Grandmas Vegetable Soup recipe but it was never written down so its gone forever. A few years ago I made a Family Cookbook. I did not have a fancy cookbook program so I just typed it in Word took it to the office supply store and had them bound. For just a few dollars each everyone had a family cookbook. I gave them the cookbook in a basket with a few supplies they would need to make a particular recipe, a loaf of homemade bread (yes, I cheated and used the frozen self rising bread dough in the grocery freezer section - It was only $1 a loaf and its so good) and a jar of jelly. It cost me less then $20 per family but made a beautiful gift. I found the baskets at the thrift shop and basket filler at Dollar Tree. I still use that cookbook and need to update it again.

  8. Homemade Greeting Cards or Stationary - One year I made everyone a stationary kit complete with personalized address labels which I printed from my computer. I purchased a clip art disc for $5 and made each family their own personalized labels. They were so cute!

  9. Music CD's - A few year's ago Mark's Mom sent us 6 CD's of music she downloaded she even created a homemade label for each one. We love them and still listen to them today. Many songs were songs Mark used to sing with his Grandma and the songs from her funeral. They are really special to him.
  10. Jar of Memories - What a special gift this is. It takes time to create, but what a gift. Take small pieces of paper and write memories or notes to a loved on. Place in a jar and put a note on the jar like "Daily Encouragement" or "Gratitude Jar" or "Know You Are Loved" or "Thanks For The Memories". This is fun to do each year at Christmas then the next Christmas you can read them. Save them year after year and they will become more precious as time passes by.

So, do you have any gift giving ideas for Christmas? Come back next Monday for another top 10 list. I would love to hear your ideas too!

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