Previously, I mentioned that I was working towards a $500 Christmas holiday. I’ve mentioned that our family (on both sides) has chosen not to get rid of gifts. Rather, we share ideas, needs and wants, and go from there. Gifts range in price from a few dollars on up. I buy for thirteen adults, my son and my daughter and four nieces and nephews ranging from toddlerhood (you read that right) to college age.
Here we are at the beginning of November. I refuse to celebrate Christmas before we’ve seen Thanksgiving. As my son would say, I prefer to celebrate the national holiday and make if not equally as important, at least important in its own right. However, I feel that by planning ahead (sometimes year around), I also free up myself to enjoy both the religious and other aspects of Christmas at my leisure. My original estimate had included hosting a family meal for one side of the family, so I believe that I will come in much, much lower (standing rib roast lives in a place all of its own in terms of price).
How I’m doing this is really not so amazing. I’ve combined deals, free items (not talking samples here), and loss leader shopping. I’ve also used my skills to make some original gifts and decorations. While I’ve not yet done my final total, and still have gifts to organize, I thought I would share some of my gifts and where they came from to make this goal come to fruition.
Some items I’ve gotten by deal shopping or being a “favored customer” Two years ago I signed up as an email customer with Vera Bradley purses. Each year in my birth month, they send me a gift card for twenty dollars off anything they sell. This wristlet was on sale for 19.99 and became a completely free gift to one niece (the one who has twenty purses and dresses up). If I have extra gift cards that I’ve earned, I’ll add a small five dollar gift card to the mix. By doing the same thing with Victoria’s secret I’ve earned a free panty for every month and free bra (stocking stuffers for my daughter). My son is six foot six inches tall. As a result we are registered online and in store as customers to get advance awards of deals. A few times a year we get one that is good for twenty five dollars off anything in the store, and I go to the outlet store and get sale items for free. I’ve also taken advantage of other deals, including those ever appearing ten dollars of ten dollars at JC Penney coupons. I’ve used these for scarves, shawls, individual pieces of jewelry and kitchen towels.
Some of my free low cost gifts have come through earnings and rewards. I’ve earned gift cards from CVS, Penny’s and Amazon (as well as gas cards) through debit card rewards. By using Swag bucks, I’ve earned many many dollars in Amazon cards. These will be used towards gift certificates for members with kindles such as my in-laws (who sure do appreciate the adjustable print sizing).
Another big way I meet my gift giving goal is using my skills and or items already on hand to make gifts (whether those gifts are things or promises of time). While it’s true that I am a quilter (with a large stash of fabric), I do have a few other non-crafty skills that come into play as well. While I don’t enjoy cooking per se, I enjoy baking, and creating various sauces, condiments and such. I enjoy experimenting with flavor combinations. To that end, I’ve four separate barbecue sauces that I will can and give as sets. I’ll also be making such items as pickled cranberries and flavored ice cream toppings. These homemade foods will go into thrift shopped baskets with decorative napkins and a couple other items (thrift shopped ice cream bowls for example), and be made into gifts. Since I buy both canning supplies and pantry items from tomatoes on up at loss leader prices, the cost for these baskets will be a couple dollars.
Since I enjoy writing on occasion, I’ve done my own version of “scrapbooking”. I’ve begun writing down some memories of early times in my kid’s lives or even before. I type this up in nice script on nice paper and mount it. I may add a photo or memento afterwards. These are presented individually rather than in a scrapbook so that they can be framed. I buy the paper with rewards points from my office paper purchases, and may have the additional cost of scanning a photo.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add the crafty quilty items as well. Quilted coasters, sewn spa bags, kindle and ipad covers and baby quilts are all items that will be added to the gift pile. Since I work with fabric on hand, my out of pocket costs will me almost nothing. I do however, keep track labor costs for my own information. Still, these items will cost more than a traditional (often prefab and throwaway gift)
Thrown into this mix will be homemade cookies and candies and other items as yet unnamed. Sometime in the next few weeks, I‘ll figure exact expenses, check my gift list and see where I am in my quest. Meanwhile, I’ve been fortunate to make a big dent, with very little mone