Gifting- On a Budget

With Christmas just 2 days away, the entire bloggosphere is buzzing about the upcoming holiday. What they're doing, where they're going, what they're eating... but most importantly of all- gifting.

Christmas gifting is one of the biggest causers of consumer debt out there. People want to make sure that Christmas is as magical as possible for their kids, determined to create fond memories, and mistakenly think that the only way to do that is by throwing hundreds if not thousands of dollars out the window.
I think people have got it all wrong.
There's no need to spend so much money on the holiday- with the right attitude, Christmas can be made on a very small budget and still be the "Best Christmas Ever".

When I think about a magical Christmas, the first thing that pops into my mind is this scene from the Little House on the Prairie. That captures in my mind the true spirit of giving for which this holiday season is known, and they didn't need to spend a lot of money to do so.


Sometimes, less is more. If you give a kid a million gifts, they may get excited when they see the large pile of wrapped presents under the tree, but as they open one after another, their excitement wanes and they may even resent some of the gifts if it wasn't "exactly what they wanted".

With my family this year, my husband and I are not exchanging gifts. Saving money is enough of a gift for us.
For our kids though, we wanted to give them a little something, but they have so many toys already that spending any money on toys for them was just overkill.
Chalk, airplane, slime, and a homemade flower made
out of Doritos wrappers (no, we didn't eat them)
Instead, we made a few homemade gifts that we knew our kids would enjoy just as much as store bought toys.

For our kids, we made homemade chalk, slime, and airplanes that really fly. Total cost? Less than 1 dollar. Do they enjoy them? Well, they've already sampled them and they've provided hours of fun.
I still plan on making each of the kids a homemade doll. I came across this page - and saw some stacking dolls made of wood; it’s a good idea for a home-made doll especially if you’re on a budget. (My boys are always fighting over the one "baby" we have, so I decided to make one for each of them.)
Note: My boys are young, homeschooled, and don't watch TV, so they don't have specific expectations of expensive gifts. Everyone needs to do what works in their family's situation, but this works for us.

For others, you can purchase items cheaply or make your own gifts. In my opinion, when you have a theme, you're able to get away with spending less money and still not look tacky.
Gift ideas for adults include, but are not limited to:
"Orange You Glad It's Christmas" set: orange cleaner, candied orange rind, and some grapefruit marmalade.
"Warm and Fuzzy" set: homemade hot cocoa mix, mocha mix, vanilla coffee mix, peppermint coffee mix.
"Tea Blend" set: various foraged herbs to make different teas, along with a tea strainer. Mint, lavender, olive leaf, mulberry leaf, passionflower, rose, etc.
"Soap-em Up" set: homemade bar soap, homemade liquid soap, homemade orange cleaner, and homemade laundry soap.
"Start Your Stockpile" set: a bunch of non perishable groceries that you bought cheaply but usually cost a lot of money.

Alternatively, you can give gift certificates such as:
10 hours of free babysitting.
1 weekend of babysitting, including a sleepover.
1 fancy meal, served at "Chez Penniless".
1 back massage
1 foot massage
3 hours of free budgeting consulting.

Your options are limitless. Barter what you have, whether it is time or skills or something else. It doesn't need to cost you anything, but will be very appreciated by others.

As for me, some people have asked what I wanted for Christmas. I've already received 2 wonderful gifts from readers- a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and a copy of the Complete Tightwad Gazette- by Amy Dacyzyn. Both are absolutely terrific reads and I've really been enjoying them! (Haven't finished either yet, but they're so jam packed with information that I've already gotten a lot out of them.) If anyone wants to buy those books (I highly recommend it, even if you can get these from the library, because these are good reference books that you'll want to have around the house all the time), if you buy through the links at the side, I'll make some commission.

I definitely appreciate gifts from you readers. If you're someone with whom I've built a rapport, I don't mind giving you my P.O. Box to which you can mail a gift. Or, you can send me money via Paypal to cover a specific gift and I'll promise to buy that for myself.

What is my wish list this Christmas?
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon- an educational traditional foods cookbook. I've wanted to get this for a while, but it's been out of my budget.
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. A book about all the different types of do it yourself ferments to make all sorts of healthy foods, from sourdough to lacto-fermented goodies to homemade vinegar, etc. Another big want, but I can't justify spending the money on it now.
A canning set- including tongs, a widemouth funnel and metal jar lifters. Currently I'm doing things the hard way, but this would make my canning much easier.
Size large diaper covers- mine are completely shot, making cloth diapering more challenging. (Velcro in some, elastic in others.)
Snappis. I'm down to one, and its broken.
America's Cheapest Family. Sounds like a good and educational read.
A good pair of size 12 (or 11 wide) women's formal shoes, without a very high heel. Preferably Mary Jane style (so they stay on my foot)
A sewing machine. (I'm dreaming here. Dreaming big. Lol...)

But honestly, the thing I'd probably appreciate most is if you could send a donation to help keep Penniless Parenting running. I put a lot of effort into this site to keep it informative, entertaining, and help you save money. I get very little return for my time; I've made a total of around 300 dollars from blogging 5-7 posts per week in this past year. Anything you want to donate to show your appreciation for the effort involved would be absolutely appreciated. Thanks!

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, hope it's a meaningful one, and I'll be back with more posts to help you save money on Sunday or Monday.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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