My Frugal LifeFrugal Living

This Year, Recycle Christmas (Update)

A few months ago, I shared a tip, "This Year, Recycle Christmas". My family, all six kids, spouses, grandchildren and friends agreed, since many of them had had income setbacks this year. The idea was that nothing was to be bought new. All our gifts to each other were to come from Salvation Army, thrift stores, yard sales, and the like. It was such a success I wanted to share the results!


I joined a group, Freecycle, which is for the members to share no longer used items instead of sending them to the landfill. The member posts the unwanted item on freecycle, the other members receive notice in their email inbox, and respond if they can put it to good use.

I also went through items I had had for a long time here at home which I knew various of my kids and friends and I shared an interest in, made homemade food gifts of loved ones' favorite treats. I hosted an everything homemade party here at home, made beaded jewelry for gifts, and other things along these lines.

End result: I personally paid less than $100.00 on Christmas, yet we had the best one ever!

Among the gifts:

  • A brand new oversized tote/purse for the mom about to be mom again, covered with ladybugs (her passion) thanks to Freecycle. Cost: Free!

  • An unused beading tray, beads, findings, how-to and design books of mine, to the daughter with a flair for design, (Who now has a new passion and loves to share it with Mama, to my delight). Cost:free!

  • Various T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, and other items with our coastal hometown lighthouse, waterfront pictures, and her favorite radio station logos for our often homesick daughter in the Navy, with very little room on her ship, but a passion for exercising and running in the cold and damp, thanks to our Chamber of Commerce, historical society, radio station, local festival, etc. Cost: free!

  • A collection of new denim and butcher-type aprons for the daughter in law who loves retro and aprons, made from clothing given to me (the embroidery on the dresses which I had cut down made beautiful aprons). Cost:free

  • Recent hits DVD's,for the collector, from a yard sale. Cost:$2.00 each

  • My daughter even found a cast iron bread pan which bakes cornbread in the shape of ears of corn for the retro-loving daughter in law,who wanted one for SO long, but wouldn't consider paying the antique-shop price. Cost: $2.00 (from the clearance shelf at Goodwill)

We decorated our home beautifully with decorations given to me when a thrift shop closed down. In turn I was blessed to share with four other families, and made a new best friend of a shut in who had not had a tree in the several years since she was in an abused women's shelter. And the list goes on and on!

But the best part was when my children came together for my daughter whose husband had abandoned her and my granddaughter, leaving her with no means of transportation or support. She had gotten a job, but it cost her $10.00 each day for a cab. Because everyone was able to save money on gifts, they were able to give more, and one son knew a friend with a car repair shop who had a kind heart.


To make a long story short, my junk car was towed out of my yard by the friend, with his wrecker, and it stood good for $250.00 at the junk yard. The money was added to the fund, and my daughter now has transportation, and a part time job as a dispatcher at the cab stand!

I never had an inkling how much more personal the gifts would be, nor how much more love they would be chosen with, when I came up with the idea. It took our Christmas this year so far away from all the glitz and consumerism everyone nowadays seems to be grasping at, trying to capture that "feeling of Christmas"

This took our Christmas to a whole new level. It took it back to a stable, and the Greatest Gift of all. It took us back to what Christmas is really all about.

Source: Being willing and trusting God to make a way

By Gloria Hayes

Editor's Note: To see the original post, which was a contest winner in October, scroll down. It is archived under the feedback.


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February 3, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks so much for telling us how it turned out. What a wonderful Christmas!

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

Love this, so creative and worked out so beautifully. Thanks so sharing

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

You Rock! How wonderful of you to have taken the time to follow up and share so intimately the outcome of your ideas with us! Bless you!

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February 4, 20100 found this helpful

Fantastic! Congratulations!

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February 8, 20100 found this helpful

What a wonderful inspiration to us all! you all sound quite rightly proud of your fabulous Christmas. Thanks for sharing the joy.

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February 3, 20100 found this helpful

I have talked to all my family and friends who are on my usual Christmas list, and shared my plans for this Christmas. They all love the idea, and plan to do the same, so I thought I would share it with ya'll!

I am going to recycle Christmas, and you can too! I am going to do all my major shopping at yard sales and Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the like, and also some charities such as the Humane Society. I have asked everyone to do the same when buying a gift for me. Why?

First of all, my adult children are where I was twenty years ago, when Santa was hard enough on my wallet. If they can give a gift from the heart without being ashamed of it not being new, that is what counts. The Salvation Army will use the money to help someone else

Goodwill DOES NOT provide any sort of disaster relief or charity, by the way; they only "train people for work" I learned this during Hurricane Katrina, when I asked the Goodwill regional manager why the Salvation Army shelves were empty,but it was business as usual at Goodwill.

Anyway, recycling Christmas also makes it possible for us to donate more to others in need and still have joy in our hearts, not over what we received, but because of what we gave.

After all, isn't that the REAL meaning of Christmas? Let's recycle it as well, it's about time!

Source: Remembering what it is like

By Gloria Hayes from Darien, GA


This Year, Recycle Christmas

I have shopped for Xmas at charity thriftshops for years. It's nice to know that not only are you getting a great deal - but that you are contributing to the work of the charity as well. (Especially good when you wouldn't otherwise have the $ to make a further charitable contribution.) Note: For that reason, there have been a very few charity thrift shops I felt I had to avoid. (10/19/2009)

By pam munro

This Year, Recycle Christmas

I think your idea is truly wonderful and I hope more folk do the same! It's not only helping us but also our local charities who have to struggle to stay afloat! I also shop thrift stores and not only does it save me money on items I can no longer afford new because am recently disabled but also gives back to our local communities.

I truly hope that no offense is taken with what I am going to say here but I simply must ask "What's wrong with Goodwill (which is a non-profit organization with several 'volunteers' who help keep it afloat) that trains the disabled and less fortunate to be able to find and keep a permanent job in the work force in their respective communities?" Why is that so bad that they do that instead of giving away material donations?

Although Salvation Army and Goodwill are national they are locally run and funded. I would think helping our local communities, by putting people to work, would be just as good of a reason to shop at their stores while saving huge dollars for ourselves for items ranging from clothing to appliances is as good of a reason to shop there as any other charity store.

Also, the Salvation Army, which is a different charity than Goodwill, shelves were probably empty because Salvation Army stores are also locally run. Both charities rely on 'local' donations and there simply was not enough to go around during such a horrific catastrophy as Katrina with so many in need.

So let's not only have and share joy but also understanding in our hearts during any season :-)


By Deeli

This Year, Recycle Christmas

This is such a good, good idea, and it really throws back to what the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be about: not a race to see who can give the gift with the most bling ( or gobble up the most presents), but to give with the heart and give back to the community at the same time.

A lot of people will embrace this because they've been hard hit by the state of the economy--I hope that when the economy finally recovers we can all look at Christmas the way the OP has and continue to set aside the insanity of commercialization at Christmas for simpler ( and way more meaningful) giving. Merry Christmas! (10/20/2009)

By Candy Killion

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Better Living Frugal Living My Frugal LifeFebruary 3, 2010
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