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  1. #1
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    holiday money saving

    so, anyone have ideas out there on how to have a less expensive holiday season? i try to make most of my gifts (which isn't much cheaper than buying them, but at least it takes me out of the consumer wheel), but making cookies is almost as expensive as buying them! attending all the parties, hosting one, updating decorations, traveling to see family (in november and december alone i am spending $800 on plane tickets. luckily, my family and my companion are helping defray the cost, but still, that's a lot of cash!).

    i'd love to hear everyone's tips for keeping costs in check!

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  3. #2
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    If you like the idea of making edible/consumable things, concentrate on ingredients and containers that are not expensive. Chocolate and spices hike your costs immediately. So while chocolate chip cookies, fudge, and chai mix sound great they usually work out to be expensive.

    Making home brew is good. Find a champagne bottle supplier, maybe a hall that has weddings every weekend and take some of those puppies off their hands. Buy a bottle capper. Make your beer from either a kit or from separate ingredients. Decant into the sterilized champagne bottles and cap with new caps. (Regular corked champagne bottles usually take standard bottle caps. )

    Making mixes like a Bisquick or pancake or flavored instant coffee can be fun. So can the various liqueurs like Kahlua and Southern Comfort copycats. Reusing other containers that you'd recycle anyway is great. Just decorate with scraps of fabric or paper or felt.

    Despite my rant about expensive ingredients, I like the custom seasoning blends. I have a copycat of Emeril's Essence somewhere, and have made Paul Prudhomme's seasonings as well as my own curry blends and chili blends.

    Kim Chee is a kick to make if you are adventurous. There are packaged seasonings available but i like to crush my own dried shrimp and chilis et al and mix up some with bok choy and some daikon. I've also used mustard greens, and other stuff.

    What I like about consumable stuff is that it probably will get used or eaten, but it doesn't hurt your feelings one way or the other. And it doesn't oblige the recipient to wear something forever and ever in your presence.

  4. #3
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    What a great thread idea! So, so, so timely for me as I have 4 siblings, two parents, a family living on the other side of the continent, a significant other and a cat. Not to mention friends, significant others of siblings, extended family, and the family of my SO to think of.

    Oh, and I'm a full time student.

    The only thing I've thought of, so far, is to approach people to ask that we not exchange gifts. I'm trying to think of kind, polite ways to say to people like my brother's girlfriend that I would prefer that they not get me anything because I just can't get them something this year (this sounds harsh, I'm not phrasing it quite that way in the actual conversations!). It's a delicate subject, and there are (of course) people I'm just going to have to exchange gifts with because there's no way to bring it up. And people I'm going to exchange gifts with because I want to give them something. But for a lot of people, I'm just finding a way to say, you know, I'd prefer that the holiday season be about our relationship and not about the things.

  5. #4
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    wow, great ideas already! i'd love to hear more.

    lizzymahoney, the chocolate and butter really do add up! and last year, i made really great massage bars with mostly stuff i had, but adding in what i had to buy new and guess what? i could have bought them all bars from Lush for the same price.

    i love the idea of consumable gifts. for friends and non-family, that's totally what i'm going to do. i actually made a lot of jam this summer, so i was thinking of giving folks a small jar of jam, and maybe some bread mix? or scones or something that goes with jam? any recommendations would be welcome.

    i just spoke with my father and told him he could request something for me to make. he's worried that slippers would be too much (he wears a size 13!) so he asked for a blue hat with a pom-pom on it. and i just happen to have the perfect pattern - he'd love this. and i'll just add a pom-pom to the top.

    http://www.girlfromauntie.com/patter...cap/detail.asp

    i've also gotten most of my girlfriends to agree to not exchange gifts. instead, we go see a broadway show together while we're home. it is actually cheaper than $25+ on a gift for 5 different people, and we're not obligated to then cart stuff back to our tiny san francisco apartments.

    xuli - i hear you on the sibling's boyfriend/girlfriend. and i'm actually going to my companion's parents' houses before i go to mine, so i'm a little worried they're going to give me presents. my companion told me not to worry about his siblings or parents (i'd probably give them the jam-scone mix), but that maybe something small for his two nieces would be nice. maybe your brother can let his girlfriend know she doesn't need to get you anything? i'm sure she'd be relieved.

    ETA: LMH - if you have a good chai mix recipe, the kind with the powdered milk, i would *love* it. i'm constantly buying it at the store for myself, and i know there's an easier way!

    also, i do have some homebrew resources - this year i am actually going to help my companion make some. i took a bottle home last year, and it was the hit of my parents' holiday party! great reminder. he actually bought stuff to make beer two months ago, but i was in peru then and it kind of was forgotten about.

  6. #5
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    you can also make hard cider at home, and it's supposed to be awesome. i've never made it, but one of my old co-workers from Sebastopol used to make it with fresh cider. you take a gallon of cloudy, unpasteurized apple cider, add a cup of raisins, put one of those gas-trap deals on the top, and let it go in a room-temperature spot until it's sufficiently alcoholic. i'd love to make this, but i'll wait until i don't live with three sober alcoholics :)

    i really like the broadway show idea! i think my family and i might get tickets to see David Sedaris in April, instead of doing any xmas stuff. we don't really celebrate xmas any more, but it's still nice to do something together.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by xuli
    The only thing I've thought of, so far, is to approach people to ask that we not exchange gifts. I'm trying to think of kind, polite ways to say to people like my brother's girlfriend that I would prefer that they not get me anything because I just can't get them something this year (this sounds harsh, I'm not phrasing it quite that way in the actual conversations!). It's a delicate subject, and there are (of course) people I'm just going to have to exchange gifts with because there's no way to bring it up. And people I'm going to exchange gifts with because I want to give them something. But for a lot of people, I'm just finding a way to say, you know, I'd prefer that the holiday season be about our relationship and not about the things.
    We voted on a gift exchange this year:one person per family to exchange with.We just couldn't afford to do gifts for everyone and their mother(lit.!).

    On the subject of gifts.
    Those I am gifting to I am using things I already have or need only one item to complete.
    Fleace scarves with appliques of special interests of the recipient.

    $1 journals covered with fabric and ribbon,beads and charms that I already have stock piled.

    Fabric/picture tranfer collages on book marks.

    Fabric pouches filled with tape,pen,pencil etc.

    Sachets and candles can always be decorated appropriatly as well.

    Plastic hanger covers from scrap fabric,scrap batting and trims.

    I love the dollar store for basics that can be dressed up and personalized!

  8. #7
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    Two years ago we had a family portrait taken and gave framed pictures to all the family types. It was the cheapest, easiest Christmas we've ever had and honestly, the best gift we've ever given. My mother-in-law cried when she opened hers, she was so pleased.

    A lot of department stores have portrait studios that do sittings for really reasonable prices. We went to Sears and they even have coupons online.

  9. #8
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    Some of my favorite cheap presents to make are:
    -one skein scarves (esp. Electra, it knits up super fast and costs under 10.00)
    -melt and pour soaps (then I make them pretty by wrapping them in nice paper I bought at Paperworks)
    -melt and pour candles (buy those cheap votives at the craft store and pour them right into it, no molds needed)
    -biscotti and coffee beans (a twist on the traditional cookies)
    -homemade truffles (they are so decadent you can get away with giving people fewer of them and making them stretch)

  10. #9
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    Athos-

    I just think it's adorable that your dad wants a blue hat with a pompom on it!

  11. #10
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    I'm going to make a few smelly jellies for my brother the smoker. There are recipes out there that use liquid potpourri from the dollar store and gelatin, and I already have the jars.

    While I'm not a regifter per se, I do buy things for no particular reason and then think, "wow, my sister would love this!" I already gave her some sparkly pink and silver organza yardage and a few seconds instruction on how to wrap a wreath or cover the tree base or a table or make a window toppers from folds of it, or a shawl if she wants. She's definitely a pink and silver girl for Christmas. I know she'll want more stuff for Christmas though. All of my thrifted silver over the years has gone to her, jewelry and serving pieces and picture frames, etc. All of my teapots have gone to her collection save one. But I do have a teapot pincushion that was just too good to pass up she'll love, and some candle gift sets from after last Christmas that I will break down and remix with other pieces as a gift basket for her.

    I've often given away things I loved to someone who would love them more. It's helped me let go of 'stuff'. Helped me get over the attachment. It's no longer mine to worry about or polish or whatever, and I no longer have to remember the provenance. My sister has a silver frame with a place for engraving something. It's very old, I replaced the glass, it has a family history but was never actually used or hung by anyone. She doesn't need to know the whole story, it's not that interesting anyway, and it looks great on her piano with a photo of her daughter and son-in-law.

    I don't plan on buying anything if I can help it. i have so much craftable stuff, and so many things unused that I've set aside for 'whenever' that I might thrift an appropriate basket or add new handtowels, or buy some glitter spray, but definitely am not into shopping for the holidays. The way I see it, even if I get into a gift exchange at work, I probably have something that is appropriate, or can at least wrap it with stuff i already have.

    Some Halloween packages went out to family members, and included some C'mas craft stuff I'd been asked to make or fix. Little trinkets and odd ball stuff I thought the little nieces and nephews would like were included. The newlyweds are in a hurricane damaged area, as am I, so I sent them some things that might make life a little easier: instant coffee mixes, antibacterial wipes, super hand cream and a sterno stove I had in storage.

    Yeah, I'm a wacky aunt and great-aunt, but they've pretty much always known that. I'm the one that gave them jalapeno lollipops and mealworm crunch for their stockings one year... Big hit, by the way, but they were all preadolescent then.

    I'll pass on books, plant trees in someone's name, and I'm painting my mother's front door with some embellishment. I don't do cards, but will make a few for my mother to send. She's always short a few it seems.


 
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