Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Since Thanksgiving, I‘ve already put up decorations, gotten out the Advent wreath, pulled up my Christmas playlists on ITunes. Unfortunately, the holiday season can also be a budget buster. Holiday meals, gifts for extended family members, occasional travel, it all adds up. What’s a person on a fixed income to do?
I enjoy giving and getting gifts, so cutting out the exchange isn’t a solution for me. I do plan and shop throughout the year, as evidenced in this column. One of the ways I provide unique, affordable gifts is by making them.
Right about now, someone who is reading this is thinking “please, no more cinnamon ornaments!” I’m not talking about cinnamon ornaments, or necessarily “crafty” gifts. Nor am I suggesting anyone go out and spend fifty dollars on supplies to make a quilted potholder. Lastly, I’m not advising a completely homemade Christmas (although it’s not a terrible idea).
What I am talking about is using the skills and abilities you have, along with resourses you have access to, to make gifts that are unique and appreciated, but also affordable. Under these circumstances, a homemade gift may have more “oomph” than a discount gift bought for the same amount. The trick is to know the likes, needs and tastes of the people you are gifting, while taking advantage of your own talents. Often people confuse creative with crafty. Everyone is creative.
As I said before, my Christmas will by no means be all handmade. There are gift cards on my shopping list, a mortar and pestle for a niece who is a chef, as well as other purchases. But there will also be homemade items in the mix, among them:
• Homemade barbecue sauces. Since I have a regularly stocked pantry and always have canning jars on hand, the cost of these will be the sets of Christmas lids as seen in the picture. Last year we made flavored Sunday sauces such as raspberry chocolate made with liquor.
• Rather than scrapbooking, I have been writing one page memories of things that happened in the past in my life and the kids’ lives, and then including a picture. Most of these are lighthearted, and I can make two for each child and one for my in-laws (we spent most of our lives an ocean a part and saw them only on holidays)
• A recipe book for my college aged son including all the family recipes he loves from both sides of the family (obviously, we like to cook and eat in this family)
• Hot pads, candle mats and coasters to match the décor of the recipient
By the same token, there will be some homemade gifts of which we will be the happy recipients:
• My sister the gardener will probably give me a baby orchid or two