As most of you dear readers know:
1) Between my husband and myself we have 5 children.
2) Our 2 boys are Autistic and behavioral therapy is NOT cheap.
So how do I make sure that there are presents under the Christmas tree? I’m going to tell you my favorite ways to make sure each child (and the adults near and dear to my heart) receives wonderful gifts they love without spending a fortune.
1) I make a lot of gifts for everyone.
From knitting hats and mittens in funky colors, to making purses, stuffed animals, quilts, hair accessories (such as headbands, and decorative clips) fabric books, skirts, pajamas, tutus, slippers, hot/cold packs, jams, candles, cookies, festive colored pastas and canned spaghetti sauces, chili, chocolates (with cream filled centres), paintings and more I really mean it when I say I make a lot of what I give each year. To help with that, I buy supplies throughout the year as they’re on sale and I TRY to start making things ahead of time so I’m not in a rush come the festive season (typically, I fail at starting early and so I am mostly just sleep deprived as I stay up late every night creating in the few weeks before Yule lol)
2) I price match everything I can, and when I can’t I buy in bulk!
I know, it sucks being behind the person with a ton of flyers who’s price matching when you yourself have a ton of things still to do in the day, but when I can get really great quality thread that sews denim for less than half price, I’m totally going to take the time to do so! Then there’s the buying in bulk aspect. Yes you really do spend less if you buy a larger quantity at a time, and that is wonderful news if you’re going to make a lot of one item. Such as buying take out containers from a restaurant wholesaler, decorating the lids with the kids and volia, lovely containers filled with delicious baked goods for various people.
3) I utilize groups like Freecycle.
Freecycle is one of the most wonderful things to happen to the internet! I know people have been swapping for countless years but still I really love the ease with which I can post what I have that I don’t need anymore and someone will come to my house to take it for themselves. I also love that I can in turn do the same! I once saw a posting for a block of candle wax and I thought, hmm I’ve never tried to make candles, but I’d love to do so! So I responded and I was gifted with 50lbs of paraffin wax! (A 10lb slab is $73.99 at our local craft store!) Then I borrowed some books from the library on candle making and ta da! I had lovely presents for those I cared for! (Well the adults at least)
4) I’m not afraid to try new things, even if it means messing up.
The first stuffed animal I made for my daughter was terrible. The head was lopsided (it was a horse, and it honestly looked like it had a stroke) the hooves were crooked, I’d forgotten to sew the ears inside the seam at the top so they were really odd and floppy, more like a bunny’s. But I laughed at this terrible creation and then looked carefully at where I’d gone wrong and how I could correct it for my next one. My first dress was all kinds of wrong as well! And of course there’s the incident my own mother still likes to remind me of when I tried a 1920’s recipe for cream centres for chocolates, and it didn’t harden and so instead it slowly leaked all over my balcony and made the biggest, gooey mess I’d every seen! (I’d put it on the balcony to cool faster, and it did, it froze in fact, but not before it was everywhere) Again I laughed as I cleaned, and as I made the next batch. (I went on to nailing that recipe, but it took time and practice)
5) I utilize reward points, free discount cards and the like.
I use Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points, Air miles, plum rewards, husky points etc. One of my personal favorites is www.swagbucks.com I use their search engine instead of google and some searches mearly return my search results, others garner me “swag bucks” which I use to redeem for online gift certificates for places like Amazon.ca. So far in this last year I’ve earned $60 in Amazon gift certificates which I use to buy the kids books they love 😀
6) I shop online as well as in store.
Why, well there’s the gas it saves, but also because I can shop from more places (which often means better prices as long as you know the “average” price an identical item would typically cost) One of the places I love is www.Ebay.ca I love the auctions, and I always bid the highest amount I’m willing to spend on that specific item at the start. Then if it goes over that, I refuse to bid again. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don’t. But I do it early enough in the year to not worry if I don’t get all of the items I’ve bid on. Plus you can get some really, and I mean REALLY amazing things on there. I recently found a pair of cufflinks that were identical to the ones my deceased father had on the day he married my mother from the same jeweler in England that I was able to snag for my brother for this coming Christmas. (Don’t worry, while his charming wife reads my blog he doesn’t so he won’t know about them lol)
So those are my top 6 ways for creating special holiday gifts. What are your top ways?