Frugality is the Mother of Creativity

CC PetitPlat Food Art

I realized this week I have little to no money for holiday gifts this year.  While I did good by setting money aside in a special account for the past few months to cover our Christmas Eve “feast of the seven fishes” traditional dinner, I did not specifically set aside gift money, so with the loss of our second income, there is none.

In some ways this situation is incredibly freeing.  I’ve for many years hated the commercialism of Christmas.  Now, I have a perfect excuse not the get caught up in the “how much should I spend on X this year?” of it all.  I can be free from the underlying guilt I’ve always had at giving cheap or homemade gifts because I have always thought (and was taught) that it’s the thought that counts, and that making gifts is a wonderful thing.  I have only one nephew, so we have no big letdowns for children.  We already bought him some books last month so if we add a small Barnes & Noble gift card, he’s all set.  He loves to read.

The answer to little money for gifts, aside from Scrooging it up and giving nothing, is to make them yourself.  A little effort can make a little money go a long way.  At the same time, I don’t want to give people gifts they won’t use even if they’re homemade gifts.  Handmade clutter is still clutter.  So in order not to make anyone get stuck with a homemade gift they never wanted, I’m making it their choice.

The Pick-Your-Own Gift Bag

  1. Each person will receive a small paper gift bag with a notecard inside.  The notecard will say “Pick 2” (with a couple people as possible Pick 3’s).
  2. The person will get to pick from boxes of six possible small homemade gifts.  Whatever 2 items strike their fancy, they can take and put in their bag.

This way, everyone hopefully gets something they want.  As of today I have 6 possible gifts.  All relatively green, relatively natural, and homemade.  There are 3 food, 3 non-food.

  • 1 bar Handmade Goats Milk Honey and Oatmeal Soap
  • 4 Handmade Chocolate Truffles (from Alton Brown’s recipe)
  • 1 Small Handmade Peppermint Soy Container Candle
  • 1 Bottle Homebrewed Beer (a steam-style black lager, already in the secondary fermenter)
  • 1 jar Christmas Body Scrub
  • 6 Nut Rolls (from my husband’s great aunt’s recipe, a family favorite)

(There’s also nothing on this list I won’t use or eat, so if it doesn’t get gifted, no big deal.  Oh darn, I have to eat a truffle. )

This will be my first attempt at soap, and at truffles, and at soy candles (I have done paraffin pillar candles before).  But they’re all things we’ve wanted to try so hey it’s worth a shot.  I have little money for giving.  But I have a lot of heart, and a lot of DIY spirit.  And that, as my mother said to me as a child, is what REALLY counts.

  2 comments for “Frugality is the Mother of Creativity

  1. January 2, 2011 at 3:05 am

    As an update, our gift recipients loved the idea, and enjoyed the gift choices we had. Still more gifts to give out, friends we didn’t see over the holidays.

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