The holidays are upon us, and that means two things!
- We get to enjoy good food and fun times with family and friends.
- We go broke in the process of trying to get nice gifts for everyone on our list!
As enticing as years of debilitating credit card debt may seem, I would strongly recommend a different approach to Christmas this year! Here are some of my ideas for creating meaningful gifts for those we love without breaking the bank (or losing your sanity!)
Spoiler alert: If you are on my Christmas gift list, you may be receiving one of these gifts this year! We just bought a farm about 2 months ago, and as you can imagine, the list of projects and repairs just keeps getting bigger!!! So, yes. We needed to scale back a bit on Christmas this year, but still wanted to give our loved ones something useful and meaningful for Christmas.
Here’s what we ended up with:
1. Flash drives with family photos and cute pictures of the kids.
In previous years, we had ordered photo books from Shutterfly to give out as gifts. They were wonderful gifts, but they retail at about $40 each, and with a family as big as ours, that became VERY expensive!!!
This year, we opted for giving the family digital pictures on a flash drive. If you search online, you can find some great deals! They don’t need to have a huge amount of storage on them. Just enough to store the pictures that you are sharing. We managed to find a 10-pack of USB drives for $25 on Amazon! (picture link below) That’s a savings of $37.50 per person over the Shutterfly books!!!!!
Not only is this idea a phenomenal money saver, but it also allows your family and friends to make as many copies of your pictures as they want in whatever sizes that they want.
I have experienced firsthand the chaos of trying to call every relative to find out what size picture frames they have or want to have, driving to a photo center, printing out everyone’s size requests individually, paying a fortune for the prints, sometimes having to buy frames to accommodate those prints, sorting out who gets what when I get home, putting them all in baggies, labeling them all with the names of the people who requested them… and after all of that money, time and effort, your friends and family are stuck with only a few prints in one size that they can never change!
A flash drive make so much more sense! They can have ALL of your family pictures and have total control over the sizes! Again, way cheaper and WAY better!!!
2. Homemade Coupons For the Kids
I don’t know about your kids, but when it comes to my kids, one of their favorite things in the world is being allowed to make their own decisions! It doesn’t matter how big or small the decision is, if they get to be in control of the outcome, they are ECSTATIC!
That’s where I got the idea for these cute little homemade coupons for the kids. These coupons will allow the kids the ability to choose special treats for themselves all throughout the year! They can spend a coupon to choose the dinner menu, choose a dessert, a family activity or outing, choose the movie or board game on a night when we are all staying in together, etc. You can design your coupons based on what motivates your own kids.
There are so many benefits to doing this!!!
- This is a gift that they can enjoy all year round!
- Giving these coupons instead of a heaping pile of toys will help to control the clutter and avoid the dreaded “Goodwill Sorting Day” that inevitably follows when the kids receive WAY MORE TOYS than we could ever have room for!
- Being able to choose for themselves will give your kids more confidence and make them feel important and special. They will feel like their wants and needs are being heard and responded to.
- Creating coupons for family activities will help you to be more intentional about spending quality time together with your kids and spouse.
- Your kids will be able to express their creativity when choosing the family meals. (Just keep a frozen pizza on hand incase their experiments go awry!) But even if it doesn’t turn out well, they will LOVE the opportunity to try, and it will be a fun adventure and a great memory to laugh about in the years to come!
So, I definitely had some grand ideas about how I was going to cut out pretty Christmas shapes on red and green paper, decorate them super fancy and write up a little blurb such as, “This coupon entitles you to choose the menu for one meal with the family.”
Well, in real life, we are just as short on time as we are on money, so here’s what the kids are getting instead:
Index cards and a Sharpie to the rescue!!! Yes, I wish I would have had time to make them more festive, but the truth is, we are still trying to get unpacked and settled into our new house right now, so fancy can wait until next year!
As far as wrapping them up, I found these containers just sitting around the house not being used. Again, nothing fancy, but they fit the index cards perfectly and will give the kids a place to store them in their rooms without getting lost… we hope! (All bets are off for our youngest kid!)
I look forward to this being a gift that keeps giving all year! After your kids have “spent” their coupons, they could always earn more coupons for good behavior! Bribery is not beneath me. 🙂
3. Homemade Goodies or Mixes
Homemade goodies can be wonderful gifts for several reasons.
- They can be made in large batches and usually end up being pretty inexpensive on a per person basis.
- You can bag up some extra ones to give out at parties incase extra people show up and you haven’t planned a gift for them. Just put a tag with your own name on it so they know who it’s from, but don’t address the bags to others by name. (Most people have run into a situation where someone unexpectedly gives them a gift, for which they have nothing to give in return. I know it has happened to me. It’s embarrassing, and this will help you to avoid that situation.)
- Making and decorating holiday goodies can be a really fun activity! Put on some Christmas music and invite your friends or your kids to help out. It’s a wonderful way to make memories and/or create family traditions!
All that being said, I do feel that there are some rules to be followed when making the goodies.
- First, make sure that the goodies can either be frozen and thawed at a later date, or that they have a long shelf-life for storage.
This is the time of year when people receive A TON of treats and certainly can’t (or shouldn’t!) eat them all at once. If you don’t want your treats to end up in the trash, make sure that they are something that can be stored for at least a few months, if not longer.
- Secondly, keep in mind that a lot of people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or eat better. Try to come up with something that is not a diet crasher. There are plenty of healthy treats that also taste great. If you need some inspiration, here’s one of my recipes:
You can also make the above recipe with peanut butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter or whatever other peanut-butter-like substance you desire.
- Lastly, your gift should be something unique.
Maybe it’s a family recipe, or a creative twist on a classic. Maybe it’s a complicated or time consuming recipe, so the amount of effort put into it makes it that much more special. Whatever it is, make it stand out as one of a kind and something they can’t buy at a local store.
One idea for that is putting together mason jars full of pre-measured dry ingredients for a favorite family recipe, and including instructions on how to finish it off. I have done that with my grandma’s pancake and waffle recipe. I made the jars pictured below for my own convenience to use at home, but if you are giving them away as a gift, I would tie a tag around the lid with the instructions instead of using a dry erase marker on the glass.
Pancakes are a great choice when you are looking for a wholesome, satisfying and fairly simple breakfast to make! My recipe is mostly flour, eggs, milk and some butter. It uses very little sugar, so even those people who are watching what they eat can indulge in this hearty breakfast… unless you pile LOADS of syrup, whipped cream and other sugary things on top. Then, you kind of ruined it! 🙂
*I’ll try to get that pancake and waffle recipe posted as soon as I can, incase you want to use it. Keep checking back.
As I said, time is short, and I really need to get to bed! I hope these ideas will be helpful to those of you who are trying to save money, avoid too much clutter and make sure that no one gets left out this holiday season. Have a fantastic Christmas and many blessings to you and yours!!!
Have questions or comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org