I've come quite a long way since I last talked about my five hundred dollar holiday. Many family members have shared gift list requests, and I can now finalize my gift giving. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my gift sourcing runs the gamut-from earned gift cards to discounted deals, to the occasional used item, to homemade and hand made gifts.
Obviously many of these alternatives are worthy of an article on it's own (especially the used item debate). Recently however, I've had a couple situations arise. First, one person messaged me that making a gift was more expensive than buying a cheap on sale item. Secondly, someone implied that homemade gifts were always of a lesser quality. To the second I say, bah humbug. To the first I say simply, that it depends.
First let me say again that homemade gifts should be given with the same thought to the recipient as all other gifts. It should be wanted, loved, or needed. Ideally, at least two of the three. Taking a few skeins of yard and making three scarfs all the same color rarely works. While I like candy cane reindeer as well as the next gal, that is not a handmade gift.
If you go out and buy everything you need, at regular price for a handmade gift, it MAY be more expensive than the equivalent. This is especially true if you buy high quality supplies (the most recent mohair yarn) at full price. This in and of itself is not a bad thing.
However, I speak of hand made gifts from the perspective of frugality as well as uniqueness. Quality hand made gifts can be made for a reasonable price (even a very cheap) price. (Note that I don't include labor in the cost of homemade gifts). The trick in making homemade gifts is using current skills and gifts. If you do this, you probably have many of the "necessities" on hand, and they were likely gotten on sale. I don't knit. If I decided to go out and knit Christmas gifts, I would need lots of yarn, needles and probably instruction. I do however, quilt, sew, cook and occasionally write. This means that I have canning jars and lids gotten new on sale. Much of my fabric was bought at Joannes or Hancock's fifty percent off sales with a coupon added. I have scissors, batting and so on. Now, I'm not saying those things don't have a cost, and I do try and figure out what they are for my own benefit. What they don't incur is an immediate, out of pocket cost. Also, just like food or anything else, items bought on the spur of the moment cost more than planned on sale purchases. When it comes to food gifts, I have some special ingredients I need. Most of my basic food stuffs however, were bought at loss leader prices, and stored for maximum freshness. I can make a hot fudge sauce with Chambord liqueur, in a decorated jar with a one of a kind label for an out of pocket cost of pennies.
Everyone has different skills they bring to the table. My brother in law is making my son a wooden frame for his late father's casket flag, and last year he gave me finished wooden cubes to use to make paperweights. I imagine his immediate cost was zero, knowing his workshop.
I don't give everyone homemade gifts. This year my sister in law asked for coasters to match her decor. Another sister in law asked for place mats. A friend of my daughters was very specific, and asked for a boat flag made out of crown royal bags (don't ask). Both my coasters and my place mats will be better made, and probably much cheaper than similar items at Kohl's. My materials cost for six coasters is about three dollars.
Homemade and handmade gifts are not for everyone, and should probably not always be given to everyone on your list. But some hand made gifts cut down on gifting costs, and create a unique and usable gift for the recipient. Planning ahead, as always, works wonders.
Note: In case family members read my blog I hate to get too specific on my Christmas goal. At this point I have spent about $230 and have the following items: a Vera Bradley wristlet, a gourmet cookbook and chef shirt, a ten dollar toys r us gift certificate, hand made by me receiving blanket sets, a book on world war II tanks, hand made coasters, handmade place mats and napkins, Longaberger Christmas serving dishes (requested), many amazon gift certificates, much bath and body stuff, restaurant gift certificate, american eagle gift certificate, clothing for my six foot six inch son (bought new at the tall kid shop), a video game, polish pottery pitcher, much spiced cranberry and walnut conserve, sundae sets (homemade) barbecue sets (homemade), a book called the encyclopedia of healing and a fifty dollar contribution to a jack la lane juicer.