Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
How I saved a lot of money this Christmas and helped save the planet while I was at it:
First, in October, I bought 40 lbs. of apples on 'after Harvest' special and made nearly 2 gallons of applesauce and apple butter. I bought canning jars/lids on clearance since it was just past harvest season. I didn't need to buy all the "usual" canning supplies, I just used what I already had in my kitchen, including two big stockpots. I composted all of the apple scraps.
Next, I collected the ingredients and supplies to make my own "gourmet scone mixes" which included white whole wheat flour, poppy seeds, and walnuts. Some ingredients are usually expensive at the grocery store, so I bought some online in bulk to save some money. The "plastic" bags I used for the scone mixes, I bought in bulk online and are compostable cellophane bags.
Last, I made my own "Christmas Morning" tea blend just for my family. I packaged them in recyclable/compostable brown Kraft bags (30 cents each).
For each "house" in my family (instead of each individual), I put together a special Christmas Morning breakfast package. I included one jar of apple butter, a scone mix, and a bag of tea. I reused boxes and packaging that had been shipped to my house that I've saved up all year. I used any heavy brown packaging paper to wrap the boxes and had my two year old daughter color in the "wrapping paper" with crayons and markers.
To save money on shipping (a lot of money, since one side of my family is in California and the other half is in Vermont!), I shipped packages together to families who still live close together and would be seeing each other during the holidays anyway. I sent three-in-one to Wisconsin, two-in one to California, and another three-in-one to Vermont, and voila! Christmas was done!
The only con was this process was very time consuming - but putting all of that love and energy into each gift is what makes Christmas giving so much fun!
By Brandy from Little Rock, AR
Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml
My family always has a chore of finding correct size boxes for Christmas gifts, and then having to break them down afterward for the recycle bins. This year, we have pledged to "soft wrap" every gift. There will be no more boxes, and no chore we all dislike. Let us all save planet Earth!
By Avis from Boulder, CO
While reading my ThriftyFun newsletter and leaving an answer for someone regarding less expensive Christmas shopping, an idea popped into my head. If your family would be willing, check it out now, how about a recycled Christmas? Everyone has something in their home that they never, or seldom, use. Give it as a 'white elephant' Christmas gift.
In my apartment building some of the tenants draw names for a secret Santa gift exchange. Many of the gifts turn out to be 'recycled' or homemade. Most of us are retired seniors with limited income.
What you can't use, probably someone else can.
Here are some great tips on having a planet friendly Christmas. You can reduce your carbon footprint a lot by using just one of these ideas. We also need to think about changing our habits. Going green can save you a lot of money.
The idea of Reuse, Reduce and Recycle is the mantra for going green. I should say here that these ideas will take some work on your part and may need a change of attitude about just what is good for the planet. So here are some ideas that even Santa will love for having a greener Christmas.
Replace your old incandescent lights with LED, they are 90% more energy efficient and last longer. They also don't get as hot, so there is less fire hazard.
Most people travel for the holidays and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), Americans take 54 percent more long-distance trips (50 miles or longer) during the Thanksgiving holiday than the rest of the year, and 23 percent more until Christmas. Here are some tips on greener traveling for the holiday.
If possible, start your trip a day earlier and/or return a day later. Christmas and New Year's, avoid travel on the weekends. Go by car if possible, on a 500-mile trip, a family of four traveling in a typical SUV actually produces less carbon per person than flying or taking the train. If you will be flying try to take the most direct route possible. First-class seating requires twice the space of coach and therefore produces twice the amount of carbon emissions per passenger, so always choose coach.
The best value in travel at holiday time is the bus, A couple traveling by bus, for instance, generates between 50 and 75 percent less carbon than flying or driving (especially on trips under 500 miles). The tickets are cheaper and some bus routes have many of the same amenities.
Eco friendly gift wrapping, the key is to be creative. Fabric can be used just like wrapping paper and can be used over and over. Stores like Walmart usually have very cheap Christmas fabric on sale around the holidays. I have seen it for as little as a $1.88 a yard.
Cut fabric a little bigger than the present to be wrapped. With a good flexible fabric glue, hem your fabric. Wrap as usual. Tins can be found in thrift stores and at yard sales very cheaply. These can hold many a different present. Most dollar stores sell ready made fabric bags for wine and other things. Be creative, a bunch of rolled up socks would fit in the wine bags and, best of all, you can use the bag over and over.>p>Always recycle any gift bags you have. We use them until they are falling apart and then use them for Christmas crafts. Recycle and reuse old boxes by spray painting them or Decoupaging old pictures from leftover wrapping paper to them. Spray boxes with a clear spray paint to seal and they will last many years. Since most stores are going back to brown paper bags made out of recycled paper, Double them up and decorate the outside with paint. You can make your own handles by punching holes near the top and knotting jute or rope through the holes.
Use your gasoline wisely. Scan your local paper for sales and then buddy up with a friend to go shopping. Be sure to make a list of everyone you need to buy for, to avoid making several trips. A list of sizes can also be helpful if you just happen to run across that sweater for Aunt Sue you just can not resist. Carpool to holiday parties, this can make the designated driver problem obsolete as she who drives is the designated driver.
Schedule all your baking for one day or, if you are the queen of the kitchen, for a weekend. Bake all the cookies or breads that have the same temperature requirements together, That way you don't have to wait for the oven to come to temperature or wait for it to cool down. Always leave the door open to release the heat when done, your furnace will thank you!
If you can afford it, try buy a live tree that can be replanted instead of a cut tree. You say that you don't have room for another tree? Donate the tree to a park or to a senior center or even your kids school. Your tree just became a tax deduction come January!
Fix and repair your old outdoor Christmas decorations. It does not take an electrician to fix them, most are no harder to rewire than a lamp. If that plastic snowman has a crack, fill the crack with white outdoor caulk. Decorations that are faded can be renewed with plastic spray paint that comes in many colors. Just mask off the areas that you don't want painted and spray away. Yes, it takes a little work but it also saves the planet and your budget.
Use all those shreds from your paper shredder to pack those boxes that you will be mailing. They don't weigh much and they can cushion things real nicely. Also use some of those plastic bags that seem to multiply so quickly, they can really cushion delicate items.By Debra Frick
Editor's Note: Do you have any green Christmas tips to share? Post them here!