This year, my husband and I decided to challenge ourselves to a frugal Christmas. We exchanged homemade gifts with each other and with our friends and family. We saved money by investing extra effort and care.
And we loved it.
Not only were we able to save money, which always feels good, but we were able to give from the heart. Something all too often overlooked with the commercialism of the season. It’s so easy to give the gift of a gift card or a random Bath & Body Works item or a you-fill-in-the-blank. Not that you should feel bad if that’s how you chose to give. We just wanted to try something different. And we are so glad we did.
To start off, I made each of our immediate family members an ornament.
I got to make these for free in lieu of some training at my day job. It’s actually made out of balsa wood and cut out with a laser cut. I personalized each design with “Christmas 2015” and the couple’s names. I loved this gift the most! Cost $0
Next I got a little old school creative and made each of our siblings a mixtape. 🙂
I used Microsoft Word to create a CD cover, which I inserted into cases I got 4 for $1 at Dollar Tree. Then burned a CD with a mix of music. The CDs were 4 for $1 as well. So total investment for 3 cds was under $2. It mostly just took time. My brother got Under The CD mix, which is a collection of Disney songs that are lesser known or were removed from movies. He works at Disney World, so I hope he loved it. My sister got Moses Parted The Red CD, which is a mix of Christian music from CMaddict. They have a huge selection of free downloads. So I went through and listened for the ones I thought fit her taste. Then the One Hit Winter Wonderland was for my sister in law. It’s filled with one hit wonders from the 90s and some other boy bands for good measure. Her and her husband have been jamming to it already! Cost $2
For my sister and her husband and for my sister in law and her husband, I made a special Winter Date Jar. I’ll share the free download with you all soon 😉
Each jar was $1 at Dollar Tree and the paper was already on hand. So total investment for this was $2. It took me awhile to find a bunch of winter themed dates and then to cut them out and fold them. But it was worth it. I hope it brings them some joy! Cost $2
Then it was onto some goodies. Everyone got one of these!
It’s homemade hot cocoa mix! I’ll HAVE to share the recipe with you all soon! Each jar was from the Dollar Tree for $1 each. I made my own label with instructions on the back and then tied them on with some twine, which was also $1. The ingredients were a bit pricey though. That set me about $20. But I was able to make 5 big jars of the stuff. And it’s way more servings than what would come in a dinky Swiss Miss box. Cost $20
I spent an evening baking away. I wish I had more photos to prove what I pulled off… but I do have at least these ones…
I made CANDY IN THE MICROWAVE! Yeah. No candy thermometer. It can be made in the microwave. I’ll be sharing the recipe for that too, lol. But this is peanut brittle ($4 in ingredients) and walnut fudge ($3 in ingredients). I also made Rollo sugar cookies ($2), chocolate chip cookies ($1), and potato candy ($2). Then put each item in a nice little Christmasy bag ($1 for 30ct) and then into a nice Christmas themed tin ($1 each). My sister made my heart swell when she said, “this is tradition worthy, Jenn.” I think so too! Cost $18
Everyone on my side of the family has a dog (except my brother, for now). So I also wanted to include the family pets.
These cute little treat tubs were from the Dollar Tree for $1 and then I handmade dog biscuits to fill them with. I just used a simple peanut butter recipe and added an egg wash. Sherlock was my devoted taste tester. He excitedly approved. I already had all of the ingredients on hand from previous grocery and coupon trips, so I’m not going to factor in cost on this one. Cost $2
Each hodge podge of gifts was tucked away into gift bags I found at Dollar Tree, 2 for $1. Can you tell I love the Dollar Tree? Cost $3
Oh, and let us not forget the gifts I got for my husband!
If you don’t know yet… my husband and I enjoy Doctor Who. And by enjoy, I mean I bought all the sonic screwdrivers for him, he gets a Doctor Who ornament every year, and he can usually be found wearing some form of Doctor gear at all times. After much searching, I found this amazing printable on DeviantArt. For free! It never occurred to me that it would even be possible to print something gift worthy. But these turned out absolutely lovely! I printed them on cardstock that I already had on hand and ran them through my laminator. This cost me nothing, as I already had everything.
Then I used some leftover twine from the hot cocoa mix and made cute little hangers. Cost $0
Then continuing in the spirit of pop culture and Doctor Who geekdom…
This is like one of those “Admit One” ticket stub boxes that are all over Pinterest. I created the image in Microsoft Word using a Tardis with a transparent background and a chevron pattern. Then put the text over the image and printed on cardstock. I cut a slit in the upper right corner of the cardboard and card stock for the ticket slot. And that’s it. The picture frame was found at Dollar Tree for $1 and it’s even the kind with a shadow box like recess. He’s already got one ticket in the box, Star Wars The Force Awakens. We are such geeks! Cost $1
This was the original graphic I was going to use. I found it on Google, but decided to make my own.
I think my Tardis one looks better and suits his style better. I also included some chocolate covered oreos ($5 from Sarris), which I totally could’ve made myself cheaper, but I wanted to support a coworkers daughter. No matter how cheap I am, I do want to help in tiny ways… Then he also got in his baggie The Adventure Log. Which is a super neat set of booklets for documenting our travels. Cost $5
Total cost = $53
That’s an average of $5.30 per person, granted most gifts were shared amongst two people, but still. That’s great! Adding it up now, I feel even better about our decision to go homemade. My favorite gift to give was the laser cut ornament, but I loved giving edible things that actually tasted good. My husband said they were the best cookies I’ve ever made and begged me to make more fudge. If that’s not a confidence booster, I don’t know what is!
What was your favorite gift to give this season? Let me know in the comments!