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Category:  Gifts

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Saving Money on Christmas Presents

By Nikki Willhite



I have a hard time with the commercialism of Christmas. Christmas is a very sacred day to me. Yet Christmas is now often celebrated without a thought to its religious significance.

Nevertheless, we must deal with the secular aspects of the holidays, and this involves expenses, especially in gift giving. Some people start preparing for Christmas during the "after Christmas Sales" of the previous year. Others start shopping early, to stretch out the expenses over several months. Many just want to enjoy the Holidays "stress free", so they get all the shopping done early, and donít have to deal with the crowded stores and parking lots.

Some people buy Christmas presents all year long. When they feel the "urge" to go shopping, and know they donít really need anything, they look for items that they can use for gifts. Congratulations to those of you who save money all year long in a Christmas fund. Iíve never been able to get to that point.

Our Christmas gifts range from "party favors" to presents for our friends, neighbors, business associates, children, spouses and extended family. Most large families either draw names to keep the cost down, or only to give presents to the children. Some extended families just agree to exchange cards.

Often the elderly worry about the expectations of their children and what they should do about Christmas. If our parents have a hard time getting around, and are living on a budget, be mindful of their situation, and take this burden off of them!

If you have a large circle of business associates, friends, and neighbors to give gifts to, Christmas can get very stressful. Here are some ideas for Christmas presents.

Iíve tried to keep these presents as "generic" as possible. These are gifts for friends and family who donít live in your home; and you don't have any idea what they want. 

When you give presents to your extended family, try to avoid decorative items that make a strong "statement". If they donít like them, or they donít fit into their decor, they are going to either have to either display something they donít like, or put it away and be embarrassed every time you visit.

Small Presents

Here are some ideas for the kinds of presents that you give at Christmas Party present exchanges, to neighbors, paperboys, babysitters, etc.

1. Christmas Ornaments. Whether you make them, or purchase them on sale after Christmas, women love new ornaments to put on their trees. I canít remember the last time I bought one for my own tree. This is a great craft item to keep you busy during the year (should you need it)!

2. Books. Books always make great presents, and run from inexpensive gifts to major presents because of their price range and quality. Small, paperback cartoon books are popular. There is a wide variety of subject matter, from political humor to travel. Retired people always seem to enjoy travel books, even if it's only to dream of vacation spots. Younger people seem to favor humor.

3. Recipe Books. This is a great personalized present. Recipes can be written up and presented in so many formats, from card collections to books. You can even make a recipe book from pretty pictures that you've collected from magazines during the year.

The recipes can all be in one subject- like chocolate for the chocolate lover; vegetarian, or bread recipes. Or, they can just be family favorites. This gift is upgraded when presented with one or more items featured in it. You have so many choices with this gift.

The Pennypincher featured a URL a few weeks ago where you could go and download free pretty recipe cards that you can make with your printer. All you need is some heavier paper (card stock), and a printer. Here is that link-  Recipe Cards

4 Calendars. Again, there is a wide variety. These are not usually able to be purchased ahead of time, so you may not be able to get them on sale unless you buy them close to Christmas.

5. Food Gifts. A food gift is a great way to be creative and personal. Food Baskets are now an art form. There are many retailers and and people who make a living designing and selling different theme food baskets.

Our small food gifts are usually things like a jar of homemade jelly with a bow on top, a fresh baked loaf of bread, a plate of cookies, candies, or a combination of foods that weíve made and divided up. Recently there has been a lot of interest in flavored oils and butters, To make a food gift more special, be sure to include the recipe to the gift you are presenting.

6. Dress Up Boxes: This is a great idea for girls. You can always find inexpensive clothing and jewelry items to make it interesting. In Tightwad Tidbits we talked about checking out the Thrift stores after Halloween for items to add to the box.

If you are giving the gift to someone who will just use the collection to add to what they already have, keep the box simple. However, if this is a "new gift" for them, decorate the box so they can display it in their rooms. A lot of little girls already have an old trunk in their rooms for this purpose. (Add a trunk to the gift, and it is a major present).

In-Between Presents

These are presents which are a little more personal, and usually take more time. They are often sufficient for family members, but can be scaled down for smaller gifts.

1. Computer Gifts. Make use of your investment in your computer. There are many things you can make for gifts.

*Make return address labels. Customize the graphic on the label to reflect the personís interests.

*Make a set of Personalized Greeting Cards that others can use to send out on occasions such as birthday, weddings, and in sympathy. You make the cards special by putting their name on the front of them, so it looks like they made it themselves. They always come in handy.

*Another great gift is to spend $10 on a birthday software program, and print out a "birthday sheet". It will tell them all kinds of interesting things that happened on the day they were born. Make it more special by framing it.

Here is a link to free birthday info on the Internet

*If you have parents or siblings who likes to keep track of family occasion, birthdays, etc., make them a calendar! Add events, such as birthdaya and anniversaries. I use Calendar Creator Plus. The birthdays even come up with the age each new year. It is a wonderful way to keep organized.

Once you have the data imputed, it is easy to make this a yearly gift. You can change it by adding personal pictures and graphics. To upgrade this gift, by them a copy of the software also, and give them a floppy disk with the data on it.

*Make coloring books for the children. Most graphics programs will help you do this. You can even make them a personalized story book, and put in pages to color.

*Put together Journals and Diaries for family members. Don't let this information be lost. It's more work than money...and should be appreciated as a wonderful present.

*Funny Calendars or Themed Calendars with a new thought, recipe, joke or other items as you turn each page.

Other Gifts

1. Books. This will always be one of my favorite gifts in all categories, because I love to read, books can be mailed easily, and they are always on sale and easy to store. Cookbooks are usually colorful and always welcome. Unless you buy your books at the last minute, and are sure the other person doesnít already have a copy, it is good to give something more generic. Anything that can be used as a reference book is great. People that like to travel enjoy books about other countries. Books on hobbies are also a good choice.

2. Magazines: This is a great gift, because it keeps on coming all year. My mother gave us a subscription to a magazine one year, and then for the next decade just kept renewing it. We enjoyed that magazine and really appreciated it. It also reminded me of her when I read it.

3 Software: For the family with a computer, software is always a good gift. There are endless games, from Trivia to the ones I don't like :-) You can also buy collections of clip art, learning programs, hobby software , and so much more. Again, easy to store and mail, and also easily purchased on the Internet.

4. Pictures. Many people are rushed, and do not take the time to make simple, yet lovely accessories for their home. Use your computer and special fonts to print out poems and then frame them. Add dried flowers or other special accents. Take advantage of inexpensive calendars out of date to make artwork. To make the gift more special, find pictures that will have meaning to the recipient- such as photographs from areas they have visited, animals they love, or people they admire.

5. Office Gifts- Everyone has some sort of place in their home where they pay their bills. Many people have small "offices" or spaces, as I do for my computer business. There are all sorts of little things people can use, from electric pencil sharpeners, letter organizers, decorative computer paper to small paper shredders. I would also include in this category scrapbooks, stationary, and fine pens.

6. Handicrafts. If you have the skill, knitted and crocheted items of clothing or household items are personal and make great gifts. There are so many things you can sew, like aprons, place mats, and napkins. You can personalize plain white t-shirts with family pictures. There are needlework projects, handmade jewelry, and doll patterns. 

Most of our fabric stores are now craft stores. There is an huge variety of crafts for every level of skill. Most make great presents. For more traditional crafts, you have an abundant supply of free patterns on the Internet. Again, we featured  a URL in The Pennypincher with many free patterns: Free Patterns

To see a picture of some Christmas Stockings that you can knit or crochet, Christmas Stockings

And if don't forget that giving supplies to a person who does a particular craft is also a good present. One of my daughter-in- laws loves scrap booking. Most young people starting a family probably have an interest in it...or will have. Supplies range from beginner's kits to lots of accessories. Other hobby kits are possibilities.

7. Plants. Most people love a little greenery in their home. When it comes to plants, sometimes smaller is better. Almost everyone has a little niche where a pretty plant would look nice. For special gifts, use a beautiful container. Also, be mindful that some people have allergies and do not use real plants in their home. Also, some people just prefer the convenience of silk flowers.

Big Presents

Here is where I get into trouble! Some peopleís idea of a big present is a new stereo or television for their room (according to my children). The following are my ideas of big presents.

1. Sweaters- Sweaters always make great presents, especially in December. The best time to buy them is after the prior Christmas. Sweaters with Christmas designs are cute, and they are marked way down after Christmas. Just watch out for tight necks or scratchy fibers.

2. Handiwork- depending on the skill level you posses and the time it takes to complete the project, handiwork qualifies as a major present. Obviously there is a big difference between a quilt and a pair of potholders, and everything in between.

3. Magazine Subscriptions- these can cost a bit, depending on the magazine, but if you are giving this present to someone who lives far from you, you will not have any mailing expenses. This is a great gift, because it is enjoyed all year.

4. Crystal- if you are hand delivering your presents, crystal is always a good gift. Whether itís candle holders, bowls, glasses, etc., it is always appreciated. Unless the people you are giving it to have a lot of money, they probably will not have much and appreciate it all the more.

5. Household Accessories- Be very careful here, as I mentioned previously, to not make a strong decorative statement. However, there are many things you can buy such as baskets, decorative soap, candles, potpourri, clocks, kitchen towels, mirrors, etc. Just keep them small.

6. Blankets, Quilts or Throws - These items are always well-used, and particularly useful during the cold winter months.  Young people, in particular, often do not have an adequate supply of blankets for visitors or occasions when the power goes out.

Enjoy the Season and Remember the True Meaning of Christmas


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Category:  Gifts

Related Links:  | HolidaysHalloweenChristmasGifts |

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