Fabric Holiday Bags
Packaging Homemade Goodies
Give "Timely" Gifts
Frugal and green living has always been important to me. An area that used to concern me for both reasons was the Christmas gift-giving process. The insane obsession of finding the right gifts (and lots of them) and then watching the huge pile of discarded Christmas wrapping paper grow made me crazy. So, a few years back, I decided to offer a new idea to my grown children (now with little ones of their own). Everyone agreed to holding our first "Recycled Christmas."
The rules of the "Recycled Christmas" were as follows:
As we set out on our "Recycled Christmas" idea, each family could set a budget for how much they would spend per person and then buy gifts accordingly (something anyone on a budget should do anyway). The other option was to simply try to find the best deal on a special gift for each person (and maybe save a little money in the process). For our first "Recycled Christmas," we all pretty much went with the first idea, which resulted in us all (there were seven of us at the time) spending over four hours opening gifts. Everyone got lots of things they wanted, but it turned out to be a bit overwhelming. The next year, we opted to go with the second idea of just looking for a nice gift at the best price possible. This was more fun and resulted in some really creative thinking.
Creativity flourished with our "Recycled Christmas." There have been great buys from yard sales, flea markets, Craigslist, etc., including CDs and DVDs, an entire set of depression glass, lots of tools (and toolbox), fishing gear, a vintage breadbox, great clothing, Wii games and accessories, a television wall mount, books, and lots of toys. Our families' crafting skills rendered lovely aprons and dish towels from recycled fabrics, functional coupon holders (with coupons including some for free items), homemade beeswax candles in baby food jars, and Italian-themed artwork. My daughter even made stockings for each family member that reflected that persons interests from recycled shirts or sweaters. Some gifts have been traded for, resulting in no expense whatsoever, such as an entire set of cast iron cookware (skillets for my daughter-in-law and a Dutch oven and griddle for me from our wish lists) for a set of DVDs. This summer, an end of the day yard sale allowed me to get a huge lot of Thomas the Train engines, cards, and tracks in a nice Rubbermaid bin for $5. This allowed for me to prepare a wonderful gift for one of our grandsons and sell the excess pieces on eBay (to help pay for this and other gifts). Other freebies have come from "curb alerts," including a barely used paper shredder and electric ice cream maker.
Now, I know that this idea isn't for everyone, but if your family will buy in, it can save everyone money and result in some really enjoyable holiday experiences for all, while caring a bit more for our planet.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com
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