Special Inexpensive Gift Ideas

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  • By Beth Fisher

    Being on a tight budget, normally we make most of our Christmas gifts. Over the years I've found that you can come up with a more personal, and more appreciated gift this way.

    I wanted to share a few ideas that we are using this year that are great for last minute gifts.

    Recipe File Box - This is a great activity for the whole family. Take an index card file box (3x5 or 4x6), and let the kids cut out small pictures of food from magazines. Cover the box, one side at a time with white glue, and glue pictures on. When box is completely covered (outside only), let dry thoroughly. When dry, mix 2 parts white glue to 1 part water, and brush this mixture over entire outer surface of box. Let dry. Include a package of index card dividers marked for different food categories, a package of plain blank cards and about 25 of your favorite recipes to get their collection started.

    Christmas Memories Book - Another great project for sharing memories with family. Let kids cut out pictures from wrapping paper. Cover outside of 1-1 1/2" 3 ring binder with glue, one flap at a time, and glue pictures to outside. Let dry. Use same glue mixture as above to seal the surface. Add a package of tab dividers marked: Christmas stories, Christmas gifts, Christmas giving, Christmas thoughts,and Christmas recipes. Add package of notebook paper.

    Fill out first page of each section as follows:

    Christmas stories (put your favorite fictional or true Christmas story here)
    Christmas gifts (this is to list gifts received by the person receiving this gift, so at the top of the page write 1998, then on the first line put "Christmas memory book" from "your name". This way they can remember who gave them what gift.)
    Christmas giving (this page is for the recipient to write what they gave as gifts, so just write the year at the top with instruction to fill in what they gave to whom)
    Christmas thoughts (this is the section for them to write special happenings, so fill in a few memories that you have of Christmas with this person, or their family)
    Christmas recipes (this can be an ongoing collection, but add one or two of your favorites)
    (This gift is especially appropriate for a newly wed couple, or a new baby, but can be great for anyone.)

    Foaming Vanilla Bath

    1 cup oil (any vegetable oil)
    1/2 c. liquid soap
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    1/4 cup honey (optional)

    Blend the ingredients together. Shake well before using. Use 1/4 cup per bath.

    You can be very creative with the packaging of bath products. Take an empty wine cooler four pack (complete with box). Spray paint the box white (or gold or silver). Sponge paint with contrasting color. Wash labels off of bottles, keep lids. Decorate the bottle with paint pens, with designs like squiggles, etc. Pour foaming bath in each bottle, close lids and put in box. Gifts for the Kids You don't have to break the bank to give kids practical and fun gifts that they will actually use.

    Go by what your child likes to do and be creative.

    Coloring book - Take a 3 ring binder, add a zipper pouch with crayons, and print out coloring pages from the internet. FamilyCorner.com has several coloring pages.

    Coloring Pages

    Just print out the pictures, and punch 3 holes and put them in the book with the crayons.

    Craft Bag - This can be done very reasonably. Take a large shoe box, and fill with odds and ends that can be used to make things. Cotton balls, tissue paper, glue, markers, paper, etc. Be creative. Even things like buttons and ribbon.

    Makeup Kit - This idea is great for teen girls. Take a shoe box and fill with nail polish, polish remover, cosmetics, etc. You can cover the shoe box and write on the top "Beth's Box" (use appropriate name, of course).

    Garden Gift "Basket" - For the garden lover. Use a large clay pot for your "basket" fill with seeds, gloves, tools, plant food, etc.

    Of course, we are baking a lot of gifts, as we always do, but recipes are easy to find. I thought I'd share some "new" ideas.

    Hope you enjoy them, and have a Merry Christmas!

    printed from FamilyCorner.com's Frugality Corner newsletter
  • I have already gone to Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift stores and bought glass plates, candle holders etc. and washed them and used them as gifts...I believe in recycling as much as possible...they have many new or almost new itmes in these shops!
  • I get some of the kids Christmas clothes at goodwill plus if I do basket gifts I get some baskets from there also.
  • Stardust, I think that you have told me before but I forgot....where are you living north of Pitts? I miss Beaver Co. in the fact that their stores like GoodWill and the Salvation Army store in Beaver Falls was excellent for stuff like this at Christmastime.

    I always had great luck finding jeans for my son when school started. One time, I found 5 pairs of Levis at GoodWill for $1.50 each! They were in great condition

    I haven't been able to find anything great here in our GoodWill stores--plus their prices are going sky high- and they dont have any Salvation Army stores in our area.

    I have been changing my mind about the contents of the box that we are sending my Mother for Christmas. She wants the latest edition of the BHG cookbook so I am thinking that I am going to use the idea above for making a recipe box for her too, filled with recipes that I use for my family and some that are geared for 1-2 people since she cooks for herself only most of the time. If I let my kids decorate the box, she will love it even more!
  • I really like the recipe box idea it would be great for a new bride in the family as well. Who wouldn't like to be given recipes that were family favorites.

  • Tami I'm about 2 hours north...do you know where Cooks Forest state park or Clarion are? I know what you mean about the goodwill stores one open up down at my sisters in Maryland...I was all excited cause I thought WOW but was dissappointed the prices were higher than I was used too. I'm going to make (someday) a cookbook for all my family I collected reciepes from them and now all I have to do is get it done. I have some of my mom's that I want to copy and put in it. Have you ever made no bake cookies well that's is the cookie I have to make for every family event but my reciepe is different from my mom's for ex (because there are 8 of us kids) mom's calls for 8 cups of quick oats mine is just 3 cups. If I ever get it done it will be neat.
  • You can go to the perfume counter and dept stores and ask for free samples. Sometimes they'll be kind and give you a few different ones, ask them if they have any others that are a little alike, you can tuck them into a gift too.
  • This week my daughter and I made a very frugal gift for her friend Annette. We took material of houses and cardboard and made her a doodle book with ribbons holding it togather. Beads spelling her name. Annette was tickled with it. Cost us nothing using things we already had here at home. Kellie was so proud of her work.
  • I LOVE these ideas! I don't know why I had never thought of some of them. We are on an extremely tight budget this year and I am definitely going to use some of these ideas! I am also crocheting some of the gifts I'm giving. A lady here in town gave me a black trash bag almost full of yarn, it was such a blessing! I am so thankful for it! I am just beginning to crochet but there are a lot of easy patterns out there for beginners and they are very pretty. My children told me not to worry about getting them anything for Christmas just to get for the grandchildren. The children understand that we are in an extreme hardship financially so that has helped but I would like to crochet my daughters and dear-daughters-in-law some dishclothes and hotpads, if I can find the time to do it after I get all the grandkids things crocheted. I'm also planning to make my mom an afghan. It's called a 6 hour afghan and is also an easy beginner pattern. Please pray that I get it all done. Thank you again for all the great ideas!
    Love & Hugs, Paula
  • If you are going to give multitude of gifts for one family, why not consider buying one gifts that the whole family will enjoy. This is definitely a lot cheaper instead of giving them individual Christmas presents.