Saving money during the holidays....

peanutmomNovember 7, 2009

Okay everyone, I am hoping to have some of you put your thinking caps on. I have been wracking my brain for some ideas to save money over the holidays. And this doesn't just apply to only the holidays. For example, I am buying a couple of cook books with removable cards to make some of my "new in the kitchen" friends that like my cooking a cookbook with my recipes. I can add to them every year and maybe keep it creative. I also am adding homemade dishcloths to my gift baskets. I put things like hand lotion, candles, and air freshener in them, too. I am also talking about things like buying extra turkeys when they are on sale to keep for later. So if anyone has good ideas, and I don't care if they are repeats of stuff you might do everyday, it might be new to me or a reminder to start doing it even if I have heard it before, I would love to hear them.

Thanks, and Happy Holidays everyone!

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Hey Peanut mom- glad that you posted. I was just feeling a little blue about the upcoming holidays and logged on here for some distraction.
A couple years ago I started making jam from blueberries and strawberries. Now people ask if I am going to be making it. I buy the jars on clearance all year and the fruit is farmers market strawberries or bulk blueberries from Sam's club. I buy the pectin and sugar on sale also. One of our friends likes pickles and dilly beans so I can them for her when they are in season. My brother like pickled peppers so he gets those.
We just exchange cards with out of state family. Mainly because I got frustrated about all of the hassle involved and no one really appreciated what we sent. Didn't send anything last year and no one complained.
I am doing Thanksgiving this year and have grown a lot of the stuff and am purchasing what I have to on sale. I have gotten really picky about where I shop since I started working as a food inspector. So I shop loss leaders at a nicer store and will improvise if necessary. I'll ask mom to bring something but everyone else is coming from out of state. This is the first time in years my hubby and I both don't have to work. That is better to me than any meal or gift.
Ok-I am feeling better about all of this! Can't wait to see what everyone else writes.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 4:09PM
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A few years ago, we decided that we were no longer giving Christmas presents, except to children. All our friends were relieved, too. I was honestly tired of people spending money on us and then giving us things we didn't want/need.

For example, I'd get scented candles from someone who never ever saw me light a candle in my house except dinner tapers. I hate scented candles. I told her not to give me a present at all, but it fell on deaf ears. I was glad when she moved away.

I do send out about 200 Christmas cards. And I give a hefty Costco gift card to my son and his wife, and I get to shop for their 5-yr old, all the Christmasy junk. But we've simplified our lives tremendously, and it feels pretty good.

I make good sized donations to several local charities at the holidays, more than I give during the year, especially to the local food bank and soup kitchens.

I found this website, and I like their ideas a lot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Simplify the holidays

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 4:49PM
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You can have a richer Christmas by not buying anything. Our main family circle meets on Christmas day for dinner (potluck) After the dinner, laughter, and games, one of the children is chosen to draw the lucky winner of our up to then not spent monies. Each of us has a favorite (okay maybe two or three) charity and those names are put in the jar. The money we didn't spend on gifts goes to the lucky winner. Even young children can understand this and are happy for the recipient. For my workplace friends, I sen t hem a card and a note, and telling them that in their name I have donated to """. A real Christmas. I think the best present I ever received was a donation to buy shoes for a family of four at the shelter. I cried, they cried and we all hugged.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2009 at 6:01PM
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We live in Canada the land of the loonies and twonies. We save them all year and use them at Christmas. $10 a week set aside will give you around $500 for Christmas gifts. We buy mostly for our immediate family and keep gifts to a $100 maximum. some are made and some are bought.

Our extended family and us long ago stopped buying gifts. We did buy for parents when they were alive, but that is all. Before Christmas we have a pot luck get together to exchange gifts, but each person only gets 1 gift and it has to be under $5. The guys but 1 gift for a guy and the gals buy 1 for a gal and the kids buy 1 for a boy or girl depending on their gender. On the tag is written your name, so you don't get your gift back. If you have 3 kids this costs a grand total of $25. The whole family spends more time thinking something weird, wacky or wonderful, than they do on any other gifts. Most start looking right after Christmas. We always have a grand time and it's a nice way be with family over the holidays.

Give the gift of your time:

For a mother with young kids--free baby sitting service. The year my son had twins I gave them a night out. A $40 restaurant gift certificate, a movie gift certificate and my baby sitting services.

For your parents--anything that has you spending time with them. The elderly enjoy your time more than anything material--they really don't need another figurine or much else for that matter.
For your mother--Lunch out and a shopping trip or any other activity she enjoys.
For Dad the same thing. If he likes sports try a training session for his favorite sports team. My son and boys often go to hockey parctices of their team and they are free.
Do some thinking and find out what can be done or what's going on in your town and who you can treat to these freebies with a little gift perhaps that goes with it

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 1:01PM
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I love the ideas I am hearing. It is really nice to hear a group of people who can get together and not be thinking "Am I going to get the same old picture album I got last year?" Instead it seems like everyone here is thinking about everyone else.

I couldn't help but smile about the jam and homemade goodies. I have a lot of family members who really enjoy my homemade goodies....hmm...a great idea. I bet it makes your people happy. What better gift can you give than something made specially for them? I can't imagine anything better.

I love giving personalized gifts at Christmas. I love to cook, so any holiday is a great excuse. I try to personalize things. I know that it means more to me when someone thinks about me rather than just getting me something that I would never use. For example, if anyone knew me they would know I don't like anything that isn't practical. If I can't use it or do something with it, I don't want it. I would rather have a roll of duct tape than some knick-knack I would have to keep moving to dust. LOL. Sorry, it's a hard truth.

My husband and I have agreed to buy each other only one thing this year and the kids are allowed to pick three. They each get to submit a list and we get to pick the presents.

I really like the idea of the donations. It is something we do regularly. We collect clothing from people who are getting rid of stuff and clean, sort and repair (if needed) then hand it out to families that need it. I know there are people who do this in an organized fashion, but I feel a bit like Santa Claus being able to do this during the year.

I also try to find things at auctions for people who have hobbies. Somethings you just don't want new. My family butchers their own meat and I will find something at an auction and pick it up for my parents (they are the ones who own all of the equipment). Things are always breaking or getting worn out. It really helps them out and I feel good keeping a piece of history from becoming someone's wall hanging. (I have seen people do this. I think that is ok for them, but like I said, I prefer to use things.)Please don't take offense if you are someone who hangs such things up for decorations. I just have a thing (read "obsession") for being able to keep history alive. It makes me feel like I am keeping memories alive and able to create new ones at the same time.

I will also volunteer to watch some friends kids so they can go shopping without trying to find a sitter. They prefer that to any knick-knack that I know of.

Keep them coming, I am looking forward to hearing everyone's ideas.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Give gift certificates, but not ones from stores. For example, we give a certificate that says, "On Feb. 2 two loaves of fresh homemade French bread and a container of herb butter will be delivered to you." We always specify a date and sometimes a time so if it isn't convenient we will know ahead of time and can change it. This not only loosens up our baking schedule for the holidays, the recipients don't have a pile of edibles all at once. The certificates can be for almost anything--my husband makes herb dryers from lumber scraps throughout the year, and one of those with a small potted herb from our cuttings is a favorite certificate subject. Just don't give out the certificates until you are sure the herb will live!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 8:07AM
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For financial reasons & also so that those of us who are trying to downsize won't get unwanted stuff, several family members & I started a new tradition last year. We give each other "virtual gifts". All you need is 1 or 2 pieces of plain computer paper or construction paper per person, a pile of catalogs, a pair of scissors and a glue stick. Cut out pictures of things that the individual might like (if you could afford it or they had somewhere to put it)and glue them on the papers. Add a message, some glitter, a few stickers, whatever. This way, you can give a dieter the chocolates you know they'd like without feeling guilty, buy a canoe for someone, a trip to Paris, some gorgeous jewelry. Or, buy some gag gifts. This year, I redecorated my sister's house with some really gawdy looking stuff. I'm sure she'll be thrilled that I didn't REALLY burden her with that junk.
We even buy gifts for the pets. It doesn't cost us anything but the postage & we all get a laugh out of it. Of course, this doesn't work for kids, but among adults this can be lots of fun.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 4:36PM
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I like the idea of the collage. That would work pretty good for a Christmas list for the kids who can't write, but know how to use scissors. I also like the gift certificates. I know my mom and stepdad would love some of the baked goods ideas. My mom loves homemade bread, but my stepdad could live without it. My stepdad,however, could eat no-bake cookies every week. Hmmmm, ideas. Thanks, everyone.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 7:19PM
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I have sent few cards for a several years, but have sent more this year, and have told my friends that I'm giving to charities instead.

Most of my relatives and friends have most everything that they want and I've given gifts to only a few close ones, usually something edible, or nuts or candies. I've told the others that I'm making charitable donations instead.

I sometimes buy things that I know that a relative or friend may want, at other times of the year, as I'm somewhat interested in making Christmas a time of spiritual celebration.

I've laughingly told several that we Christians are really a bunch of accomplished con artists ...

... Jesus has a birthday ...

... but we've arranged things so that we get the presents.

If that's not a con job ... what would you call it?

It seems to me that we in the western world had better get used to living much more simply, for high-level jobs have been emigrating, and there are a number or other reasons, that I won't go into just now.

Good wishes for a really fine New Year.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:38PM
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Good points, Joyful. I'd like to think that giving gifts and being spiritual are not mutually exclusive, but so often that is the case. It's never the what (giving gifts) that is the problem, but the why & the how behind the what (why are you giving the gift? How are you going about it?) Often we would answer "why" with, "Because I'm expected to, because they're giving me something, because it's the thing to do, because I want them to like me." And how am I going about it? I'm grouchy, grumpy, resentful, & nasty (at least inside) the whole time I'm shopping.

Ah, the season of giving. Very spiritual, yes?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 5:18PM
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We have stopped buying gifts at Christmas. We only give gifts to the real little ones, like kids 5 and under. We bought only four gifts this year-three to our niece's kids and one to my favorite cousin's Grandson. We do send cards, but only to people we don't visit over the holidays. I really enjoy the holiday season now. No shopping hasels, and nothing to return. I even sinmplified my decorating-a small tabletop tree, a wreath on the door and a manger set display.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 8:03PM
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I come from a large family and Christmas has always been a struggle. I love the season but hate the gift giving. I think part of it was because my parents only gave gifts to the children - I never learned how to graciously receive a gift, how to just say thank you and smile. Someone gives me a home made nik-nak and I rush out and buy them a new car (just kidding). Anyway, the holidays are over, I made it out alive without spending a fortune. The coolest idea for celebrating the holidays was by a friend of mine years ago. He had recently moved to my state, all his family lived far away. He loved his new city and had no intentions of going anywhere for the holidays so he planned a huge dinner party. He cooked all the food, made all the decorations even made up simple invites and mailed them out a month in advance. His deal was - the party was his gift to his friends and family. If you can't make it for whatever reason, he understood but had no plans to do anything other than throw the party. I imagine he spent some money on the food and stuff but in the end he solved a lot of problems. It didn't come off as a "take it or leave it" kinda deal, more like a "I can't make everybody happy, so this is what I plan to do". I loved it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 1:12PM
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Thanks, John. There truly is no better gift than the company of good friends. Food and drink to go along with the company is icing on the cake!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 1:17PM
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Oh, I forgot to mention - his gift to everyone was the party. Your gift to him was attending the party. Some people brought gifts but he didn't encourage that - he just wanted everyone to get together for one evening and have a good time.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 10:17AM
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I love the ideas that I have been reading and I will have to try some of them out.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 6:31PM
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