Our Christmas plans for this year look a lot different than last year's did. Our gift budget is MUCH smaller this year and basically we are aiming for another Hundred Dollar Holiday, more or less (well, hopefully not much more!)
(If you're on my gift list, please stop reading NOW as there are major gift spoilers ahead!)
Hubby and I have agreed that we are going to be very modest with gifts for each other this year. In fact, there are not really going to be any surprises for either of us as we have made specific requests of what we would like. I don't really mind this at all as I know I'll receive things I want and/or need and that no money or effort's been wasted on something I will eventually consign to the "donate" bin.
I've asked Joe to get two things fixed for me this year: my sports watch, which needs both a new battery and band, and the Lagostina Dutch oven I bought at a yard sale for $4 on the Victoria Day weekend. Although the Dutch oven appeared to be in very good condition when I gave it a quick inspection pre-purchase, as it turns out a tiny part of the bottom is coming away from the main part of the pot. It looks like it should be fixable with a small solder, and Joe knows someone who should be able to do this repair. I'm also getting one new item, the Celestial Tea Strainer from Mountain Rose Herbs (more about them later in this post). I'm experimenting more and more with loose blends of herbs for teas, so this is both a functional and beautiful addition to my tea making supplies.
Joe has requested new flannel pajama pants and boxers, both of which he definitely needs! We may also end up doing a quick thrift store shopping trip and picking out a small item each that we both want, depending on how much gets spent on other gifts.
Christmas gifts on a budget for teenage boys can be pretty tricky, I have to admit! I have come up with what I believe to be a decent plan, though: NEW BIKES! Both boys really need new bikes and have been riding bikes that were a bit too small for them for the last year or so. They are now both adult size (both taller than me!) and need adult-sized bikes. We are hoping to put together two suitable bikes for under $50. Thankfully Joe has a lot of experience rebuilding bikes so hopefully we can make this happen. We already have the bike for my older son, a good quality Peugeot that Joe trash-picked a couple years back (it's appallingly easy to trash-pick decent bikes when you live close to a university). It's been patiently awaiting some TLC and repair. Thankfully it doesn't need too many parts replaced - just a few broken spokes and some elbow (and bike) grease! My younger son really wants a road bike rather than a mountain bike, so we're hoping to track something down at Recycle Cycles or New Hope Bikes. Kijiji is another possibility; however I'd rather purchase from one of the bike organizations as it will help support cycling promotion in our city. We definitely need to get a move on this to get things done before Christmas!
For my 15 year old, a passionate climber, we're also going to purchase this Knots & Ropes for Climbers book from Mountain Equipment Co-op. For my 13 year old, (my artistic kid) I'm planning on buying some decent quality markers from the Canadian-owned chain Curry's Art Store (and the local store is conveniently located within walking distance of home, too!)
Of course there will be stockings, too - I'll discuss what we're filling those with next week, so stay tuned :)
As far as friends and family go, I am keeping it simple this year and everyone is basically getting a combination of books, homemade salve and a food basket.
The books are from two sources: my gift cupboard stash (yard-saled for under a dollar apiece) and an unexpected but gratefully received recent windfall of free books passed on to me by a friend - about 4 dozen books! I divided these into 3 categories: books someone in our house would like to read, books in brand-new giftable condition, and books that we didn't need and were too worn out for gifting. The final category got passed on to a new home through Freecycle, and quite miraculously, there is something to suit nearly everyone on my list in the "giftable" book pile (thank goodness my friends and family are all avid readers!)
The homemade salve I am making is a variation of this Simple Lavender Salve from A Delightful Home - I am going to double the recipe and use half lavender, half calendula to provide a truly skin-soothing salve for our harsh Canadian winters!
Food baskets are something everyone on our Christmas list has come to expect from us; we've been doing them for years and I think if we ever stopped there would be some very disappointed people in our gift-giving circle :)
This year we'll be doing the "standard" items we always include like pickles and Cran-Raspberry Jam (I have some Ontario-grown cranberries stashed in the freezer for this recipe), herb vinegar, homemade candies (Cracker Toffee, Chocolate Barks and Candied Peanuts), Granola and Chocolate-Peanut Granola, I'm also going to be trying my hand at something new: creating my own herbal tea blends using herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. I'm anxiously awaiting my first order from them right now and hoping it arrives early this week! I usually include some type of quick bread in my gift baskets too, but I haven't made up my mind what I'm making this year (although I guess I better do that soon, huh?)
Want more ideas for creating a great holiday on a small budget? Find all of my Christmas on a Dime posts here, and check out my Homemade Christmas board on Pinterest - I'm always adding new ideas to it!
What are your plans for frugal gift-giving this year?
(P.S. If there's someone on your gift list with a tight grocery budget, please consider giving them a copy of my book. It's successfully helped lots of people reduce their food bill by 40-60% while still eating well (no extreme couponing required!). You could even make a gift basket with some of the staple items necessary for the recipes. YOU can help make a family's life a little easier this Christmas with this thoughtful gift).
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