Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas on the cheap. Let's get crafty.

Last time, I wrote about Christmases past.

My mom loved Christmas. The interior of her house, from the day after Thanksgiving to the week after New Years, looked like Santa threw up all over the place. She'd spend lots of money and many hours shopping and wrapping and preparing for what was her favorite time of year.

Christmas gave her a good excuse to give.

But times have changed. My holiday iteration is a bit different from the Christmas tradition of liberal gifting my mom established.

Shopping has never been the same since my mom's been gone, so I have little interest in the lure and sparkle of malls or big box stores.

And I'm not fond of crowds.

So needless to say, I don't do the typical kind of holiday gifting.

If your budget is tight and your fuse for high-voltage consumerism is short, I've got a few suggestions when it comes to giving on the cheap:

Get crafty. I have a few vintage typewriter keys that fell off a very old Remington I bought for $5 this summer at a garage sale. The keys are a perfect fit for these totally cool barrette/hair pins I found in Portland for .50 a piece. Once I got home and got busy, I quickly ran out of these cool hair things. I found a lot of 50 of this exact same item on ebay for $4, free shipping. So I'll have plenty of inventory.

In addition to the barrette potential, I have a bag of unused beer bottle lids, old board game pieces, vintage sheet music, light switch covers, dominoes, scrabble tiles, broken jewelry, hotel room numbers, so much more. My collection of hot-glueable and Mod-Podgeable items is embarrassingly immense. The photo shows just a smidge of what awaits whoever participates on a Crafty Day.

When I commit to create, I can make items for people with their particular taste in mind. I can't go into a tremendous amount of detail (I don't want to spoil anything for a few of the folks of my Christmas list), but let's just say that every piece I've made is one-of-a-kind, somewhat off-beat, and chosen specifically for the person who's on my list.

And I'm not the only one who's getting in the crafty spirit. A friend came over last week to make some presents and have some fun, and my 18-year-old and his friends joined us. We had a great time.

In other words, the process of making presents for people can be as memorable as what you create.

You're so handy! The other day, someone asked me what I wanted for Christmas. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the broken tiles on my kitchen floor, the outlet that only occasionally works and my clothes dryer that made a sound like I was drying a load of rocks.

I mentioned that I'd love the gift of time spent by a handy friend. Just a day, maybe less. They'd fix stuff that's way beyond my skill set, I'd make lunch, we'd chat - it sounded like a dreamy Christmas miracle.

So there's a thought. If you're handy and you want to give a really great gift, offer up a few hours to someone who's not quite so bright when it comes to fixing stuff. It costs nothing but time, and take it from me - it's a gift that would be highly appreciated.

Think outside the box. We can all feed the Big Box stores with our ching, or we can go local. Give a gift card or a certificate from a small shop or business in your area. Give an oil change, a haircut, a night out at a local restaurant, tickets to a play. Keeping your gifting money local does a service for your area's economy, and it might invigorate your friends and family to try something new; to step out of the box.

Go live. Last year, I blogged about the coolest thing I got for Christmas (

And although the catalogue I recently received from Heifer had a bit of grandiosity on its cover ("The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World"), I don't dispute its sentiment. Contribute on behalf of the folks on your holiday list and you'll measurably change things around the world, for people who would otherwise have almost nothing. Heifer makes a difference.

Get cooking. Tasty homemade treats are such a great gift idea, especially for those of us who have no culinary proclivities. Going one step further with a gift certificate for a homemade meal, especially for busy moms or families in need, is a great way to share without breaking the bank.

And, like crafting, baking, giving away time or keeping your money local, there are a myriad of other ways to show how grateful you are for having good people in your life that don't require spending a lot of money.

Which brings me back to my mom.

My mom was an exception in so many ways.

I'd give anything to spend another Christmas in her presence. Not for what she bought me, but for what she gave me.

Ultimately, she taught me that it doesn't require deep pockets to find gifts that are filled with meaningful, thoughtful, loving intention.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE Crafty gifts! Discovering new ways to paint a rock or use Modge Podge to make a canvas into a glorious rendition of a transfer collage makes me happy:) It's good to know I'm not alone. I envy your hot glueable collection!