How Can I Spend Less on Presents Without Looking Cheap?
Katie from Rolla, Missouri writes:
Everyone else in our family makes a lot of money and buys expensive Christmas gifts for us. I’m getting ready to become a stay at home mom, which will stretch us even more. I’m wondering how to buy presents for the rest of the family without looking ridiculous and being embarrassed. My husband and I can have Christmas without lots of presents, but the extended family gatherings are stressing me out financially. How can we get around this and still seem generous?
Tawra: You can save money on gifts by shopping wisely and presenting them nicely. Here’s a perfect example: One time I found my mother in law’s favorite bath gel on clearance for $1.00 instead of the $8.00 it normally costs. I bought all they had left and then, for several holidays, I made nice gift baskets with new items from the dollar store, yard sales and the thrift store. She would never have known that the $30 value only cost me $5-$7 for each one! Of course, we put the money we would have spent toward paying off our credit cards instead of just spending it.
Listen to what they like, then keep your eye out for good deals at clearance aisles, thrift stores and yard sales. If someone collects something small, make up a nice little gift with several of those small things. Here’s a good example: My daughter collected penguins last year. We collected several over a few months and then made a nice box filled with penguins for her. She never knew and wouldn’t have cared that the cost was only a couple of dollars. It made a huge impression because it was something she liked.
Remember when shopping for gifts, it’s not so much how much you spend but how you present it. If you think about it, when you pay more for something at the store, what you’re often paying for is just the presentation.
From: Dig Out Of Debt
photo by: laurenmanning
For young girls with baby doll things borrow one of them and make a wardrobe of new clothes if you sew or knit. Maybe knitted blanket and sew sheets for a bed for her doll.
Do the same with barbie dolls. I know my girl friend of years ago was the envy of every girl in town because her mother sewed and every time she got a new dress her barbie got 2 or three of the same material. She had so many clothes for the doll.
For little boys with the love of dinky toys get an inexpensive mat or rug piece and paint a town site on it. Someplace for him to use his imagination without scuffing up the floors.
One friend of mine was teaching her son how to get to school and the library so she got a rug and painted her town on it. He learned the rules of the road and the short cuts to get to places he wanted to go.
If they are readers look at yard sales and used book stores and get a stock of books he likes and add some that you think he might be interested in. Add a couple of new ones and wrap up them in one box. Throw in a couple of cute book markers. Parents will thank you as well.
If someone likes to draw find a brief case or a back pack and fill it with all sorts of things for art work. stickers, pastels, crayons, pencil crayons, markers and lots of different types of paper. Forget scissors though they may be used for hair cutting experiments if the child is young.
For a budding cook. Make up powder mixes for cookies, cakes, and puddings. get a set of unbreakable mixing bowls and child size utensils. Add in a set of something they could make for the family meal like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti or even chili. You could wrap it up in a mixing bowl for presentation.
If they want to learn a craft like knitting or crocheting give a needle and wool enough to do a project along with the promise to help them learn on a weekend.
Kids are really a lot of fun to buy for. They don’t even care about the cost.
I gave my brother’s family of five an Italian themed gift basket last year for Christmas. I made three different kinds of pasta sauces and put some in each of three mason jars (i had plenty of extra sauce that I saved or gave as gifts). I wrote the names of sauces on pretty labels and taped them on the jars and tied red ribbon around them. I also added a couple boxes of dried pasta(different kinds for fun) that I had purchased on sale during the year. At the Dollar store i bought a bottle of dried Italian seasoning, pasta tongs and a wire spaghetti strainer. I had six red and white checked napkins I had picked up at a garage sale for a quarter and I lined the basket with them.
I found an old basket large enough, but it was not very attractive! So I sprayed it with glossy black paint. With the red and white napkins laid inside it began to look kind of snazzy! I arranged all the goodies inside and finally wrapped it up in cellophane gift wrap. I tied a big red bow around the top and stuck several pieces of spaghetti in through the bow. The gift tag was a picture of the family I put in a small black frame I had on hand. They well all thrilled with it, and it cost me VERY little for their family gift.
Some ideas I have used in recent Christmas seasons:
Purchase the cheapest picture package at Wal-mart and buy some frames and send relatives pictures of your family….usually under $10 for the pictures and you also get wallets for your Christmas cards.
This year I purchased clear ball-shaped ornaments from the craft store then went to the dollar store and bought shredded mylar tinsel in gold/silver. If you open the top of the ornaments you can use a pencil to poke the tinsel into the ornaments…fast and cheap and pretty. Gold and silver should go with anyone’s color scheme.
Purchase some nice holiday tins and fill with a simple trail mix:
one part mixed nuts or peanuts……one package of holiday M&Ms….one part dried cranberries. Toss all together and present in the tin with colored mylar tissue in either red or green. Easy and tasty too!
I love your idea for stuffing clear ornaments. Very clever!
I was at the drug store the other day and they had some neat ideas on sale.
a clay flower pot and a bag of bread dough ingredients. It was selling for $8. but I think I could do it less expensive but even at that price it was not bad.
a tea cup a bag of scones mix and a few tea bags all fancy packed.
Just to give everyone a heads up we will be post several tips and articles on just this type of thing – tea cup with tea bags etc. for gifts in the next couple of weeks.
I think what was said about listening to people leads to gift ideas. After a couple of moves my daughter mentioned that my son-in-law had lost a favorite book. I went to a local used book store and found a copy for a few dollars, and gave it to him for his birthday. My daughter-in-law is really good at this. She has given me a japanese magnolia tree and a waffle iron just because she heard me mention that I would like them. The basket gifts are a great idea. You can hit the dollar store and do a lot for very little. for a person who likes to read, a book, a bag of candy and a bookmark make a cute gift.
My family and I have been through a bad few years. We have almost stopped communicating until my younger sister passed away this July. Lots of things came out and now I am in the process of mending fences with my mother at least.
I am mailing a Christmas present to her tomorrow and I wrote a letter instead of a card.
On one visit they laughed when they saw the book I was reading. It was an alternate history and I really enjoy that type as well as Scifi and fantasy.
So I went through my books and picked 4 that I thought she would enjoy reading while in Florida.
I put at the bottom of the letter that I was sending her the books I liked hoping she would and that in a way I was hoping to send a part of me.
No they were not weird ones but one is fantasy one is about a small village in England shortly after WWII. One is a mystery romance and one is by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
It is not an expensive gift but it is one she should enjoy as she loves reading.
So maybe others can do something similar with things that they enjoy, it might make conversation when the trivial things run out.
When my mom had no money, she actually wrote poems for her mother and they were so appreciated. I still have one mom wrote to Nana in the late 50’s and I’ll never part with it.
I scored so well at the thirft shop Saturday I was thrilled! I have a baby gift due at the end of February, and in a bag (that had just been donated). there were 2 each of those prequilted baby blankets, the backing, and bottom fabric and batting., all for $5!. the original receipt was in the bag and read $41! My shower gift will cost $2.50!
Also picked up the last needed wire mesh basket for a gift bastket for $1. it really pays to take your time when possible and really look! A beautiful Christmas to all and prayers and good health!
With my husband’s loss of his job 2 1/2 years ago for almost a year, and me losing 2/3’s of my income for the same amount of time, I’ve had to be more frugal than ever. I usually make gifts for many family at Christmas. Three years ago, I purchased photo/CD boxes at a craft store for $1.33 each at the after Thanksgiving sales weekend. I bought a bottle of Modge Podge (6.99), and a sheet of scrapbook paper for each person (design was specific for that person). I cut out the paper to fit the top of each box and glued on with M.P.. After that dried, I glued on things specific to that person/couple. For a niece who loves Tinkerbell, I used Tinkerbell pictures. Most had at least one photo on it of that person. For an aunt, I used 4 photos of her grandchildren, cut around the kids and strategically glued them on. For a brother-in-law, I put photos of he and his nephews at Halloween on his box. (He was dressed up, too.) For my mom’s box, I put photos of her with Father Christmas on it. After applying all the “special” photos/items, I modge podged the entire top of each box and let them dry. It’s best to do this assembly style as it goes faster. It took a couple of days due to the drying process, but was well worth it. Everyone loved their personal box. I actually made these just before my husband lost his job, so we filled the boxes with things they liked: containers of hot cooca mix, marshmellows, chocolates, gourmet soup mixes, candles, lotions, etc. Without filling the boxes, each one didn’t cost over $3, since I was able to get all of them done with one bottle of Modge Podge. I made about 20.