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Topic: Inexpensive Christmas Gifts

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Subject: Inexpensive Christmas Gifts
Date Posted: 11/21/2009 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2008
Posts: 35
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I just lost my job and it's getting close to Christmas and I haven't even started and now wondering if I'm going to even have the money to get anything. So, I just thought I would try here and see if anyone has any ideas. Does anyone know any inexpensive homemade gifts or even a good idea that's inexpensive that would work for anyone whether it be a parent, a brother, sister, cousin, or whatever.

I just want to thank everyone in advanced for sharing your ideas and experiences!:)

Date Posted: 11/21/2009 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,564
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For anyone local, how about making up coupons for free services?  All you would need is some paper and a printer for those.  You could offer to shovel a driveway, babysit, cook a meal, bake cookies, whatever you think the recipient would appreciate.  There are all kinds of gift in a jar you could make and most reasonably inexpensive; the jars can often be found at thrift stores.  Check out organizedchristmas.com they have recipes for gifts in a jar and lots of other good ideas.  I made a journal jar one year for my mother and she loved it.  IIRC my final cost was about $10, but I bought a really neat, brand new jar to match others that she already owned.  I could have done it for much less if I'd used one from a thrift store. 

budget101.com also has some great ideas.

Sorry about your job and I hope you're able to find something soon.

Last Edited on: 11/21/09 5:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/21/2009 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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Buy cheap photo albums - like the ones which hold 1 photo per page.  Go through photos you have and put the duplicates into these photo albums.  For an added touch, write a story to go along.  The albums are probably $1 at your local dollar store.

Date Posted: 11/21/2009 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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 I did these for coworkers one year but didn't use carnation istant..I got a container and measured out enough for 2 seems like and made little tags..they were really cute.  http://www.ice-cream-freaks.com/hot-cocoa.html  I got the 'cones' at hobby lobby in the cake decoration section(the clear colorless ones) and did cocoa mix, marshmallows, chocolate chips and tied..I think redhots would be cute on top as well. if you wanted to take it a step farther walgreens and walmart usually have some cheap christmas/holiday themed mugs.

do you do any sewing or hobby that could produce c ute inexpensive things? I've done pillowcases for gifts(need to do some more) and little mini stockings..my cousin always does the thrify stuff like aprons or handmade purses/bags.

baked stuff like mini banana nut bread loaves or cookies are nice as well.

Subject: Inexpensive gifts
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:00 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 402
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If you are computer savy, you could burn cds of music and or pictures for family.  The other option is to offer your computer skills as services to those who need help. 

Another option that I used once was to create memory boxes/books for family.  Use photos, clip headlines and or pictures from magazines, etc and create a place for them to store their pictures or memory items.  My daughter did it for me and it is really special.  I now keep all my pics and memorabelia from the different plays I do in it. 

Also, if you like to cook, maybe you could give a meal - either make something in advance and gift it, or gift it as a coupon to be redeemed when needed (add on the coupon how much advance notice you would need to make it happen).

Remember most people understand and are grateful for you thinking of them, presents don't have to be expensive or elaborate. 

Good Luck!!

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 724
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One year, I made soap balls for my family. All you need is a few bars of Ivory soap, maelted until it is warmed and able to be rolled into a ball. I then added dried chamomile, oatmeal or even dried peppermint leaves to them as I rolled them up and put them in bits of toile fabric I found at the remnant bin in Wal-Mart.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,554
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How about baking stuff for people?  You can bake a couple of different kinds of cookies, dip pretzels in chocolate, make some truffles or fudge.  Make a 3 or 4 different things and then give everyone a plate of goodies.  You could buy some candies if you want to pretty up the plates.

Doesn't have to be fancy in presentation unless you have some tins sitting around to use.  Check out Goodwill for stuff like that.  Otherwise, buy some paper Christmas plates to load up with goodies and wrap with plastic wrap or slip the whole plate in a big ziplock bag.  Stick a Christmas bow on top to make it pretty.

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2006
Posts: 706
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These cookies are fantastic and very easy:

Ginger Crinkles

2/3 C. oil

1 C. Sugar

1 egg

4 TBS Molasses

2 C. Flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 C. Sugar for dipping

Mix oil and sugar thoroughly.   Add egg & beat well, stir in molasses.  Sift dry ingredients together & add to sugar mixture.   For into a small ball & roll into sugar.   Bake on cookie sheet 3" apart 8-10 minutes in 350 degree oven.  You can get these just right so they remain soft or go for a more snappy cookie.  I work at getting them just a little bit soft - my gas oven I need to put them only 8 min. my Dads electric oven he does them for 10 minutes.  

At the dollar store last year I got pretty clear small tubs with red lids -- the outside had candy canes or snowmen - they were 4/$1.   Those were cute to give baked gifts in.   We've also done mini loaf pumpkin breads and pan de palvo (spanish wedding cookies) for gifts too when we were super tight on cash.  One year I made some simple fudge too.   Everyone we know likes sweets.

A few of the things I like to recieve that are cheap are those little calendars, pens, pencils, photos from loved ones (this is big and they don't need to be studio a good snapshot is just as great), lifesavers book (I never outgrew this), movie gift certificate, local burger certificate even $5 is exciting!, handmade anything dollies/etc, pretty bookmarks --- stuff like this.   I think many people still love the little things.  This is a great idea for a thread by the way -- I love it and getting ideas is always great.

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 11:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,424
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Easy ideas for foodie-giftables:

Melting wafers (chocolate or white chocolate) or chocolate chips
Mini paper candy cups (like cupcake liners only smaller)

Candy canes, crushed
Rice Krispies cereal
Potato chips, crushed

Melt the chocolate, stir in the crushed candy or potato chips or the cereal, spoon into the paper cups.

Or:  a combination of chocolate, white chocolate and peanut butter chips.  Melt each separately, spoon in layers into the paper cups.  (Let each layer firm up before adding the next).


Melt chocolate and coat Oreos or mini Oreos, mini pretzels, Pringles potato chips, Ritz Bitz sandwiches, graham crackers, marshmallows, etc. 


Homemade peanut brittle or caramel corn


Mini muffins or mini quick breads


Homemade dog or cat treats for those who have pets.


Cookies:  Once you purchase the basics, you can make a ton of cookies.


Homemade hot cocoa mix (tons of recipes are online), some mini marshmallows or a peppermint stick (for stirring), or even some chocolate coated spoons try here  for stirring.


Date Posted: 11/25/2009 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2007
Posts: 1,739
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 We made this last yr as part of our treats we give to neighbors.

Take Large Marshmellow.  Stab with a colorful toothpick or other fun pick.  Dip in melted Wilton candy wafers, I think you could use baking chips too.  Chocolate, Strawberry, any flavor.  Just dip about half way.  Sprinkle with different sprinkles.  Set in small muffin papers. 

Date Posted: 11/29/2009 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2005
Posts: 142
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Good and Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar

2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

Mix. Drop on cookie sheet. Press down with fork. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.

Subject: hobbies
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2009
Posts: 8
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I took up knitting and crocheting as a hobby. Im trying to find ideas to make for xmas presents that are nice but not cheesy. Yarn and fibers tend to be reasonably priced

Subject: just odds & ends of ideas
Date Posted: 12/1/2009 8:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 53
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one Christmas I made gingerbread boys & girls; having no "cutters" or $ I cut them out of cardboard; I traced the outline on the dough; then I baked one at a time on top of a large pan turned upside down as I had no cookie sheets. I made powdered sugar frosting, using food coloring made every color imaginable; & put them into the cups of cupcake pans;  I let my younger brother & sister along with me frost them and sprinkle colored balls etc on them; we had a ball!

Since then I have let neighbor kids all come in about 6 or 7 at a time, and continue the fun! It cleans up easy and they get to take theirs home for their parents & siblings.

If you don't have food coloring ask your family or neighbors; most of us have them for doing Easter eggs! and they last FOREVER it seems;

www.thriftyfun.com has EXCELLENT ideas! and on THIS site you can easily get cookbooks, kids books, etc;

Date Posted: 12/2/2009 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2006
Posts: 4,505
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If you do a little sewing, you can buy remnant fabric and some feed corn and make corn bags!  You can also use rice or dry beans.  They can be put in the microwave or freezer for a bag that stays hot or cold.  Google for more instructions... but they are pretty easy! 


Good luck!


Lanai B. (lbyg) - ,
Date Posted: 12/8/2009 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 11/19/2008
Posts: 50
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SwapTree.com will allow CD / DVD / Book trades.  They also list the condition of the item that you will be receiving.  So for a book and the cost of shipping you can get a "New" DVD, CD, book that someone else is looking for.


TitleTrader.com lists books, DVDs, CDs, bath soaps, clothing, household items, electronic items, etc.  This site also lists the condition of the item you will be receiving.  So for a book and the cost of shipping you can get a "New" item that someone else is looking for.


If you have extra credits for PBS you can set up accounts for someone else.  This would be much like giving someone a "Gift Certificate" for used books.  If they want to continue trading they would have to complete the registration and listing.


If you have a lot of antiques (antique-like), hand-made, country decorations around your house you can do some "spring-cleaning".  Instead of having a garage sale put some of the items together with cookies, cake, jam to make a nice little basket.


Of course, you can always do waht my family did...I lost my job 3 years ago.  Even though I still have money and could afford gifts my family decided that it was well worth saving money and not exchanging gifts.  I do appreciate the extra savings.





Subject: little things that matter a lot
Date Posted: 12/8/2009 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2009
Posts: 53
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first, get in mind something that the person REALLY likes: www.budget101.com; has GREAT ideas for many money saving tips and gifts; www.thriftyfun.com does as well; I have gotten like new stuffed animals & toys for next to nothing at Thrift Stores;  they can easily be washed in washer & dried or simply put into the freezer which will kill anything for something like 24 hours: google it; & learn; There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for every child in the world not to have stuffed animals & books folks: NONE;

The people will delight more in thoughtfullness than COST: perhaps coupon books: for cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, home made bread, etc; when I bought onions recently 6 lbs for 99 cents & said wow! what a great buy! think I will make some French onion soup & have with homemade bread: folks in the store ASKED that I have them over for dinner;

I got a CLUE game for 10 cents missing only the dice I had at home: and we have enjoyed HOURS of playing the game, grandkids.

At the $ store: they have playing cards 2 for $1.00; seperate them, give them with a coupon to play POKER at home: complete with dinner (chili or whatever): you can give 2 gifts this way; EVERYONE enjoys playing penny poker, or bean poker! Just make SURE everyone KNOWS that it is a GAME: and the reason that the casino's are so NICE, and LARGE and MANY: is simple: THEY take your $; so just play at HOME!

At the "As is" Store: goodwill folks: you can find ANYTHING: go frequently: FIND a "yard art" decoration for the person; FIND a "bird feeder" and get a small bag or from bulk a "supply" of bird feed; FIND a book like the Betty Crocker gookbook I got like new for $1.00; what is the person's passion?  I have found beautiful quilts for $5.00; yes, go frequently with an idea that you will indeed find something of GREAT value for pennies; it's NOT the AMOUNT of $ you spend: it's that you CARE enough to want to give.

Make some laundry soap as stated on another list: give it in a nice jar along with the RECIPE: make cocoa mix and add a couple of candy canes to be stirred with: grind up coffee beans & add a little candy cane instead of buying "peppermint" coffee; there are all kinds of information out there on the net re making your own sweetners, your own flavored coffees, etc; FIND a "starbucks" coffee cup for 25 cents at Salvation Army; instead of paying $18 if you HAVE it or NOT! WHY PAY MORE for ANYTHING if you do not have to?

Make lists for the person: or people: of GREAT tip ideas: or ways to save $! www.pioneerthinking.com has awesome customer tips: you can email them to yourself or another: pick which ones are right for YOU;

Instead of paying for Pam or "spray" oil: get a "mister" or spray bottle: and fill it with your OWN oil: save MUCHO DINERO this way: and pass the savings on to others! If you get PRETTY COLORED ONES like Winco has: match their KITCHEN colors with it; not only are you giving them a gift; but an additional one: they will ALWAYS be able to save more themselves!

Date Posted: 12/10/2009 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2009
Posts: 52
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I'm also on a budget this season.  I have a new baby, and had to be on bedrest or admitted to the hospital for most of my pregnancy, so I haven't worked in nearly a year. 

The first thing I realized is that I wouldn't be able to purchase EVERYONE on my normal holiday list a present like I normally do, and those that I do buy for, I couldn't spend as much as I would like.  I set a maximum budget for each person, and made a game out of how I could creatively make a great gift with that budget.  Unfortunately, I'm not really crafty, and not the world's greatest cook, either, lol.  Here's a few of the things I came up with:

For my 12 year old nephew: 
This child takes after my odd sense of humor and LOVES that show America's Dumbest Criminals.  I was able to find a book from the show on a book swapping site.  Since I had to send out a book in order to receive a point to "buy" that book, with shipping costs, I estimate that gift to be around $3.  I then went Big Lots, which has a great selection of DVDs for under $6.  Out of sheer luck, I found a DVD with 20 episodes of America's Dumbest Criminals for $5.  I also found a Simpson's DVD for $5, and a MonsterQuest PC game for $3.  I used my foodstamp benefits and bought one of those movie-theater popcorn buckets to use as a basket, two Hershey Bars, and a holiday themed mini Sprite, stuck in the DVDS and made him a "movie-night" basket.  With a recycled bow and other wrapping supplies, out of pocket I spent $16.

For my sister: 
I bought my sister another DVD from BigLots for $3, and purchased a really nice brushed silver picture frame for $2, in which I'll put a 5x7 picture of the baby.  Her gift is packaged in a nice felt gift bag from Dollar Tree, so her gift is done at $6.

For my mom: 
My mom has a tart burner, and loves burning yummy smelling tarts constantly.  I found a sale at Magic Mart:  4 for $2, so I bought her $8 worth, and then picked up an etched glass Grandmother picture frame at Big Lots for $6, in which I'll put another picture of the baby.  Her gift is going in a recycled gift bag, so out of pocket, she's done for $14.

For my best friend and baby's godfather: 
My best friend loves my baby like his own child, and they're already very close.  And, since its hard to find a picture frame with "god-daddy" written on it, I made one.  I found a nice black picture frame with spaces for 4 pictures at Dollar General for $2.50.  At Big Lots, I purchased a sheet of alphabet scrapbook stickers for $1 and used them to spell out "I love my God-Daddy." I then used an old stocking we had, and filled it with little things he uses everyday, for example, hair ties, incense, batteries, etc.  All were purchased at Dollar General, so I got quite a haul for $10.  Another recycled gift bag for the frame, and his gift is done for $13.50.

My dad: 
My dad is getting Christmas cookies, individually wrapped with festive Saran Wrap, packaged in a plastic Christmas bucket (2-pack for $1 at Dollar Tree).  Since the slice and bake cookies are "free" with my foodstamps, his gift costs less than $1.  My paternal grandma is getting the second bucket full of cookies, plus a nice, basic $1 picture frame and picture of the baby, so her gift will be under $2.

My baby:
He'll only be a little less than 3 months old at Christmas, and he's got SO many toys as is, so he's not getting a huge haul, lol.  My mom gave me the money to pick up her gift to him, a swing.  I found an awesome GRACO model at Magic Mart.  It was $159, marked down to $99, and since the box for the only one left was torn, I got the manager to knock off 5% for me.  I also saved $10 by opting to put it together myself.   From me, I found an adorable Baby's First Christmas stocking, and filled it with little rattles, teethers, and similar toys, spending a total of $25.  I then got a friend to give me several Baby Einstein videos that her kids have outgrown,

Date Posted: 12/14/2009 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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If you sew or crochet, you can make lots of things.  I usually give out potholders, something that everyone can use, and this year, I'm making food for the guys (kettle corn, cookies, and candy) and travel jewelry cases for the girls.  They're super easy, and take about 45 minutes to make, counting ironing time.  I got the pattern from http://www.ehow.com/how_2184940_sew-simple-travel-jewelry-case.html and added a second, smaller circle to make a 12 pocket bag.  I took one to school today to show a coworker what I did over the weekend and she bought one from me for $10, so that tells me it is something everyone would like.  Good luck on saving some money this Christmas. 

Date Posted: 12/19/2009 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 180
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I just wanted to add that www.familyfun has a lot of great ideas(family fun is now owned by disney I think so the emails has lots of great information in it on on to... coloring pages... printing this and that... all free... and parents and parenting.com. for ideas hope this helps..

Last Edited on: 12/19/09 9:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/21/2009 2:27 AM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 36,254
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If you have  plants in your house, take some cuttings, root them in soil and put in some cute "pots" that you can get at goodwill or the dollar store.