Friday, December 09, 2005

Elegant & Thrifty Gift Ideas

Some clichés are accurate. It’s really the thought that counts and homemade gifts are especially appreciated during the holiday season.

For children, the December-January issue of Family Fun magazine offers a variety of gift crafts for the holidays. These items include a jewelry tree made from a small branch, polymer clay, paint and glue. Other child-friendly crafts include furry eyeglass cases and hand-colored candles, fashioned from standard white candles, watercolors and acrylic paints.

Directions for various craft projects are available at the magazine’s website (, where the home page offers an “Easy-to-Make Gifts” option.

Meanwhile, through networking with my other frugal friends in Cyberspace, I have also collected more creative holiday tips. For example, Angela, aka, “The Creative Homemaker,” told me that she is knitting scarves and making glass bead necklaces as gifts. Her other holiday bundles include homemade appliqué tote bags, (filled with cookies) for neighbors and friends. And for the grandparents, she’s making small scrapbooks filled with pictures of her children.

“A really cool thing to do is to take a close up photo and put it into the computer,” Angela told me via email. “Then use a photo editing program that has the charcoal sketch option. Print the photo out on sketching paper and trace the lines with charcoal pencils. A simple black metal frame goes great with it and usually only costs $5.”

Beyond photo albums and hand-crafted scrapbooks, the menu of affordable, but thoughtful holiday gifts is extensive. A free gift-giving brochure called “Simplify the Holidays” is posted on New American Dream’s website and a hard copy is available for $4 if you call 877-68-DREAM.

But if you don’t get around to downloading the brochure or calling, here are a few ideas from the brochure:

· Create a calendar featuring family photographs and children’s artwork.

· Collect a selection of favorite recipes from extended family members and compose a cookbook of family favorites.

· Host a themed-party: board games, skating or other activities.

· Offer homemade certificates for monthly lunch dates, craft lessons or babysitting services.

For those with less time to craft handmade gifts, JLP, the editor of “All things Financial”, recommends that consumers take advantage of special holiday gift rates offered by many magazines or buy a single share of a company’s stock and present the share and the stock certificate as a gift.

1 comment:

Todra said...

I have a frugal holiday story. One year while an assistant celebrity makeup artist (translation: peon sent to get the Q-tips and paid squat for it)I had no money for real Christmas presents. I made fresh cranberry-orange relish and put it in old fashion glass jars with straw ribbons around the lid and homemade name tags. NY friends LOVED it. It was so quaint and old-fashioned. The next year when I was no longer an assistant, but a real makeup artist and bought gifts from Tiffany's friends asked if I had more of that cranberry relish! The relish cost me about $3.00 per bottle to make.