A Mothers Ramblings: Christmas Gifts and the idea of being frugal

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Christmas Gifts and the idea of being frugal

Christmas means such a lot to me and always has. I think it in a large part has to do with my Mum and her enthusiasm for Christmas. As a child she and her family didn't have a lot of money and as we grew up she tried to make sure that we never went without.

We never went without.

With this in my background it isn't surprising that every Christmas I try to come up with a new and inventive gift for family members that doesn't cost the earth, and over the last eight years I have come up with a large number of ideas...


Frugal Christmas Carnival Badge

When I saw that Liz at Violet Posy was hosting a Frugal Christmas Carnival I had to jump in with my ideas, as it isn't always about the money when buying gifts, but using your imagination and making sure that the gift that you choose fits the person and their needs.

So for your pleasure here are some gift ideas that you might like to use. Before we get to them however I am going to have to trust immediate family members that read my blog not to read this post until after Christmas, because your gift this year is mentioned here!

Home made chocolate shapes

This is as easy as can be, last year Top Ender and I brought several cheap bars of chocolate (It was the value stuff from Tesco!) and we melted it in a glass bowl in the microwave before pouring it into shaped ice cube trays that we had previously brought from Ikea. After they had set we popped them out of the trays and put them into cellophane bags (we had been given them the previous Easter, but not used them) we added two lollies from a multibag from the £1 shop and then tied them up with gold or green ribbon.

Each one of Top Enders friends that got a bag was delighted and so was I as it cost next to nothing!

Home made crayons

Top Ender has hundreds of bits of crayons. Every so often I steal them off her and put them into my tin. Once I have a good amount of bits, I melt them in the microwave (in a glass jug) and pour them into the shaped ice cube trays. Again I let them set, and once they are done I pop them out, voila new multi-coloured crayons!

Top Enders friends are getting these for Christmas this year, along with personalised notepads.

Personalised Notepads

Take a plain notepad, decorate and personalise.... genius!

Cake in a mug

Put into a ziplock bag;

4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon choc chips

Then put it in a mug and wrap in cellophane and on a label add the follow information;

Add 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons butter or oil and mix well. Once mixed put in the microwave for 3 minutes. Wait for two minutes after cooking before eating!

No sew Fleece Blanket

The amount of fabric you need depends upon the size you want to make. A rough guide is as follows Baby size 1 to 1 1/2 yards, Child 1 3/4 yards, Adult 2 yards. You can choose two different fleece patterns or colours and make them compliment each other or contrast, but both will need to be the same size that you have chosen!

Place them on top of each other with the good sides facing out and I then like to cut round the edges to trim the straight and to get rid of the selvage. I then cut a 4"x4" square out of each corner on both layers and then I cut a fringe round the outside. You need to cut 4" in every 1", you need to keep them uniform in size so I tend to use either my fingers or a piece of the fleece I have already cut as a marker.

Once this is done you need to tie a fringe from each piece in a knot. I like to double knot them and to tie every other one and then to turn the blanket over once I have gone once round to tie the others as it makes it more even and secure.

And that's it!

Knitted items

Can you knit? Then knit a square blanket, or a scarf or anything that your skills will allow. I made Baby Boy a scarf last year when I couldn't find one that was the right size for him, all from following instructions found on the web.

Home Made Costumes

A couple of years back red cotton was on offer in a fabric shop, and so I brought a meter. It cost a couple of pounds and I turned it in to Little Red Riding Hood's cape and hood. Top Ender was thrilled with her costume and it is still in the costume box!

Top Ender wearing a red hood cape with white stitching

Hand Sewn Items

I wasn't very handy with a needle and thread when I saw this castle material in John Lewis. It was an off cut and therefore didn't cost much! I turned it into an Apron during my lunch hour, sitting at my desk the week before Christmas.

Top Ender wearing a castle apron
Top Ender has grown out of it now and I am turning it into some clothes for her dolls, but this Christmas both she and Baby Boy are getting new apron's from material that I brought from the Fabric Shop. The cost was £4 for the two pieces!

Secret Hollow Book

This is one of Daddy's gifts this year, and there are hundreds on instructions out there. The best I have found are here and I think it makes a great gift! You can even hide things in it when you give it and wait to see a disappointed face when all they get is an old book, not knowing hidden inside is something great!

Letter writing set

Buy stamps, envelopes, paper, a nice pen and an address book. I also like to include plain postcards and some little notelet cards. Of course I always include a hand written letter from me too!

Photo album

When Big Cousin turned one, we gave Auntie a photo album with all the pictures that had been taken of Big Cousin since she was born. We had a copy of all of the images Auntie had taken as a back up and Daddy thought it would make a great gift. Daddy was right as Auntie loved the gift. We have been asked to do it again by Granny for her as a Christmas gift, but for all four children.

Framed Photo

One of the funniest gifts we have ever given was one that wasn't known about. At Easter Auntie and her family came with us and Granny to the Gardens of Woburn Abbey for a walk round. When Daddy and I left with Top Ender and Baby Boy we had a plan to get a photo that had been taken that day printed, put into a frame and snuck into Grannys house. We did this, all within an hour of the photo having been taken. It took Granny eight hours to spot the new photo....

If you have a photo that is special make a copy and give it in a frame to someone. It always makes me smile to see photos I have taken on display at someone else's home.

The Card Box

This I always think of as a good gift for older people, but it can work for anyone. Simply buy a selection of greeting cards for various occasions, multiple times (I did it for my Gran and I counted out how many Birthday cards she would need for all her Children, her Grandchildren and her Great Grandchildren as well as a few for friends, but I also added Thank you cards, anniversary cards and plain cards). This gift can cost as much as you want as there are shops that sell Greeting cards from 29p these days and a lot of them are really nice, but it does sometimes take a little effort to find the good ones for this price!

Hampers

This is my signature gift. I don't think there is anyone in our extended family that hasn't had a hamper from me at Christmas or on a birthday. I like to theme them.

The Breakfast in Bed Hamper. A bedding set on a tray, along with Jam, Croissants, Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, a variety pack of Cereal, some Bucks Fizz and some Orange Juice. Then of course there are the finishing touches a DVD of either Breakfast at Tiffanys or The Breakfast Club, some napkins etc.

The Art Hamper. Some Paintbrushes, some paint, some sketch pads, a smock, a couple of canvasses and anything else that you find cheap! I found some cheap art pad covers in WHSmiths that did great!

The Italian meal. Sun Dried Tomatos, Pasta, Pesto, mozzarella cheese, Italian wine, cans of Cappuccino, Italian Biscuits... you get the idea! Although my Brother in law does still sometimes mention the year we got him cheese for Christmas...

The bath Hamper. Bubble Bath, a Bath pillow, shower gel, soap, shampoo, candles, a good book and a bottle of something to drink. This can be presented in a bath sheet and given with a hand towel and a flannel.

The Adult Basket. This was a great gift given to a friend and her husband. Novelty under ware, wine, massage oil, chocolate, grapes and strawberries and I think there was also a Karma Sutra book. I know there was a mix CD featuring Barry White!

The Chocolate Hamper. Chocolate, Chocolate and more Chocolate! Oh and Drinking Chocolate!

The luxury Hamper. Think of all the things that your intended person likes but doesn't buy often as they are expensive. Now buy those. I did this for my Gran and gave her biscuits, cans of drink, soup, crisps, chocolate, sweets and magazines.

No Budget

Kids art work

Top Ender and Baby Boy have loads of drawings that we like to give as gifts. It costs nothing, and always means something to the person to get a drawing just for them.

Drawing of a house that Top Ender drew for her Great Granny

Coupons

Home made coupons, for a dinner at home, a cake, a massage, doing the dishes or what ever you can think of always go down well here!

Preserves

Home made preserves using up your home grown fruit and veg show your talents and cost you nothing!
Top Ender picking apples
Cakes

My Gran use to love cake, but a whole cake would go hard before she could eat it. I would make her a cake every month (her choice of flavour) and cut it in to individual slices before wrapping them and putting them in her freezer. Then she could have a slice of cake when ever she wanted!
Cupcakes iced and decorated to look like Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer
Mix Tape (well CD these days!)

Create a mix tape of songs that mean something to the person. Daddy has made a few for me in the past and they always bring back special memories when ever I listen to them.

And those are all that I can think of at the moment but why not take a look at my Frugal Christmas entertainment ideas and my Frugal Christmas Food whilst I wish you a frugal Christmas!