By CDC from FL
Make Gingerbread Men using a jar of cinnamon, 1 cup of Applesauce and a small bottle of school glue. Mix by hand and roll out to 1" thick. Cut with a cookie cutter which cuts only a shape (Don't use the flat kind which makes a pattern, these will stick to the dough). After these are cut out and laid on a flat surface (a thick piece of cardboard works fine) let these dry on their own. This will take several days. Turn them every day or so to keep them flat. These are so cute and smell good. I have some I've had for years. They are, however, fragile and easy to break, so be careful with them.
Felt Ornaments are easy to make. Dig up some old scrap material and make patterns of different shapes. I make stars, Gingerbread men, snowmen and trees. Sew them together and leave a small hole to stuff with craft batting. After stuffing and sewing up the hole you used, take a needle and embroidery thread and chain stitch around the sides for an old fashion look. To make the chain effect, sew as you normally would, but before going on to the next stitch catch your needle UNDER the top of the previous stitch. This will make a line ACROSS the top to the next stitch. Repeat this all around the sewn ornament. Practice chain stitch on a scrap piece of material until you get the effect you are satisfied with.
Hot Pads are easily made with scrap material and stuffed with good smelling finely crushed potpourri, cloves and cinnamon. They give out a wonderful aroma when used.
Make baked goods for gifts, which can be frozen. End of summer produce sales are a good place to get Zucchini. I also do Banana bread from leftover Bananas which I've frozen and pumpkin bread. Store in the freezer with a good ziplock bag. Stored properly, these will thaw out fine for gift giving.
Crocheted kitchen towels are fun and I do them while sitting and watching TV in the evenings. Using a kitchen towel, fold in the middle and cut it so that you have two half-towels. Using crochet thread and needle begin your crochet by punching a hole in the top of the towel and single crochet the first row punching through the towel top. Do two rows of single crochet. Then add on three rows of double crochet, skipping between each stitch so that the towel is becoming smaller.
After that is finished single crochet the handle on. It will take about 5 single crochets (and turning after each row) to make the handle. Do this 10 times. When finished sew on a button to hang the towel. With this project you get two for $1. Ask a friend who crochets to help you learn this if it sounds too complicated. It's really relaxing and makes great gifts.
The back-to-school sales are a great time to stock up on personal care items (Shower supplies, lotions, razors, deodorants and scrubbies). A basket full of these make a great gift. Baskets can be purchased at yard sales.
These are only a few suggestions but they are gifts that can be made in advance to prevent last minute gift buying when the Holidays come.
If not, then trim names from the list reduce the budgeted amounts until you get a figure you can actually afford!
We make a ritual out of setting up our Christmas tree and decorations. We do it as a family, carols playing in the background, and there is always a visit from the Christmas Elf (he brings a gift, usually a Christmas Movie, Gingerbread house or craft kit and mysteriously leaves it under the tree while we are upstairs saying the magic words - my children are 1 and 17 and they still participate in this!) Then we enjoy a movie, popcorn or cookies and cocoa.
Begin making your Holiday decorations at this time too-wreaths, ornaments, table arrangements, etc. Use your sale coupons from the local craft stores to lessen the financial burden.
Take your Christmas PHOTO now (Why can't you wear Santa hats at the Pumpkin Patch?, around the Pool?)
Begin to write your Christmas letter NOW! You can add last minute items right before you print it!
Address Christmas cards while waiting at the bank's drive through, at the doctor or waiting in your school car pool line. If you have some extra time, create address labels in your computer instead! This will save you hours of work in the future.
Always be on the look out for a special gift for someone-consider Art fairs, the dollar store, even yard-sales can yield a gift. You are only limited by your imagination.
Once purchased, WRITE it on the list you created in item #1. This is critical or you will find yourself with 3 gifts for Aunt Suzy and none for Grandma!
As you purchase gifts store them in one central location so you don't misplace them!
Decide which cookies you will bake, create a grocery list and begin to stock up on those expensive items (like butter, nuts and candied fruits) NOW!
Make sure you set aside that evening to eat of few of your cookies with those you love best. Relax, enjoy a cup of eggnog or mulled wine while the kids down the hot cocoa.
Purchase any candies you might need for your baking after Halloween!
Use creative wrappings such as cookie tins, tubes, and children's art work as wrapping.
I purchase little clay ornaments as gift tags (4/$100 at the dollar store), write the year and person's name on it and it is an additional "gift".
Set the wrapped gifts aside in a place where prying hands will not undo all your hard work and where the wrapping will not get torn (We use our boat!)
I despise wrapping gifts and would gladly just staple the top of a brown paper bag shut and write your name on it in crayon, but these do not look as pretty under the Christmas tree!
It really is! Children don't enjoy the Holidays any more when the receive 10 gifts as when they receive 5!
Take care in putting away your decorations. Label boxes for easier decorating next year. Weed out broken or unwanted items.
Have your kids write thank you notes! It will make them more appreciative and better adults! And who doesn't like to receive a thank you?
Update your addresses from the Christmas Cards you've received so you'll be ready next year. Take a moment to reflect on all the great memories you created!
Source: Years of stress and resentment caused me to re-evaluate and implement these plans.
By Diana from Prospect, KY
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
How do you prepare ahead for the holiday season. This can include ideas for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas dealing with food, gifts, organization or your own family traditions.
1. Check out Christmas craft and cookbooks from the library in May/June/July. You can get great ideas on making gifts and almost nobody bothers to look at Christmas books in the spring and summer - no problem getting plenty of books and ideas.
2. Begin Christmas shopping for next year the day after Christmas. If you don't mind the crowds, get in there and get some bargains!! I have bought toys, perfume, sweaters, coats, pajamas, robes, etc. at Christmas clearance sales for the next year. Reserve the bottom of one closet at home to store it in. If it is for immediate family I go ahead and wrap it, so they won't get nosy!
3. Keep a running list of who you have to buy for and ideas on what to get them. Whenever my husband mentions something he wants, it gets put on the list. Same with my teenage daughter. Keep this list in your wallet so you can refer to it when you are shopping. Mark people off as you complete their gift selection, so you don't get 8 gifts for your Mom and nothing for Uncle Bob (I learned this one the hard way!)
4. Shop all year long. I don't understand how people can wait until after Thanksgiving to shop for everyone on their list. For one thing, we've only got 4 paychecks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There's no way we can pay the bills, buy food, and buy gifts too. By September of this year I had over 75% of my gift shopping done.
5. Check into ABC Distributing and LTD Commodities. If you work for a company you can set up an account with them and order through their catalogs. I have found them to have good quality merchandise at a fair price, even including shipping. The ladies at my office all pass around the catalogs, I place the orders on-line and we pay for the merchandise after it is delivered. I have learned that when I follow these rules, I am able to enjoy Christmas more by not freaking out over what to buy, who to buy for, where to get the best deal, etc. A week after Thanksgiving, I will put on my favorite Christmas CD's, pour a glass of wine, and wrap all the great gifts I have purchased (in gift wrap I got at a yard sale or from last year's clearance sale, of course), referring to my list so I will know who gets what. The week after that, the Christmas tree gets put up and the house gets decorated. The week after that I will bake Christmas goodies with my daughter. The days just prior to Christmas are spent just enjoying the holiday season with my family. December 26 I can start all over again for next year! (10/26/2001)