With just one week left until Christmas some of us maybe wondering how we can keep the kids busy and save some money on those last minute items like gifts and gift wrapping. Here are some easy an inexpensive ways to keep the spirit going, but not the money flowing.
Create your own wrapping paper. Brown paper bags from the grocery store. Cut out the bottom of the bag and then cut down the side so you can lay it flat on a counter. You can use paint markers, poster markers, cookie cutters (for stencils); holiday stickers, (stay away from glitter it knocks off and gets everywhere including your guest hands when they open the present). You can also use tempura paint and use sponge shaped holiday stencils to sponge paint. Go free hand and you will be surprised by the creativity that everyone will have. Even the little ones can do it.
Create your own gift bag filler. I have mentioned this one before, tear out those colorful, waxy pages from your magazine. Put them through your paper shredder (make sure to empty the container first) and create your own colorful gift filler. You can use it in boxes, in shipping, and in gift bags. Use it to line the baskets or gift tins with.
Soap: beginners may want to start with a kit. Or you can purchase soap bars in a package, melt the soap down and add a little aroma therapy in the form of essential oils and pour into molds to let sit. After solid wrap in colorful saran wrap and seal with holiday stickers. My grandmother, who taught me my frugal-ness even, told me how she could take the last bits of leftover soap that no one uses, melt them down and add fragrance to make new bars.
Candles: Kits are best for beginners too. But you can purchase wax (I recommend soy, it burns cleaner) and fragrances. Melt the wax down slowly, add fragrance and place in a baby food jar to solidify. Before pouring insert some candle sticky it holds the wick in place. Insert wick and then pour.
Calendars: don’t make these ho hum, but WOW WOW. Many can do this on their home computers. Create a collage of photos on the calendar page. Scan poems or old photos to make it more fun and include them in the collage. On special dates include the information such as Melinda’s birthday or Rick and Lisa’s anniversary. One grandmother was in the hospital for a very long period of time, she said on of the things that got her through was looking everyday at the collage of special and everyday events that her grandchildren had done. Many of the pictures went back years.
Family Tree Collage: Grab a photo frame with lots of spaces in it, pictures from past and present and a nice paint marker color is your choice. Write the family tree information on the mounting board and mount the pictures inside. You can bring tears to a grandparent’s eyes.
Bookmarks: You have some options: order whichever set from Oriental Trading that you like, my daughter likes the winter glitter bookmarks. The children color in the spots that don’t have fabric glitter outlining the picture and then tie on a ribbon to the end. The kit is $3.95 and includes 12 bookmarks and ribbon. You can also create color sheet pages yourself on the computer and laminate them or use contact paper, hole punch the top and tie a ribbon in yourself.
Christmas Ornaments: Walk through the stores. Our favorites are the wooden ones you can paint and add embellishments too. Celebrate special events from the past year and express them through the ornaments. Create a baby’s first Christmas, Grandpa’s 65th birthday, John and Nicole’s first married Christmas etc. or just have fun.
Holiday Placemats: Children can do this quick and easy, you may even want to have it around for holiday parties or dinner. Oriental Trading is the place to go for these foam placements. They come in a pack of 12 for $9.95. You weave alternating complementary colors through a foam base. Everything is precut so it’s easy. Glue down ends and then decorate with the precut Santa or Snowman. The Snowman can be used all throughout the winter, so it’s my favorite. The foam is easy for little hands and can be wiped off after dinner so you can use over and over again.
Scrap booking pages (not photo books): become a scrap booker. Buy sheets of paper and embellishments. Sit down at the table and spend an evening creating scrapbook pages for friends and family. You can put them in a small book you can purchase or carefully wrap in a box. You won’t believe the oohs and ahhs you will get.
Supplies to keep on hand:
Discount store baskets and tin
Mason Jars or Baby Food Jars
Paper bags from the grocery store
Some words of warning:
- Make sure to set a budget, it is very easy to spend more than you can afford or want to when you are making multiple presents at one time. Also, because there are so many choices available to you and your children it is hard to narrow them down. I admit, I am a store’s worst nightmare. I choose all the things we want and then narrow it down before approaching the register. Keep three things on the side, just in case your total allows for more.
- Sign up for Hobby Lobby or Oriental Trading discounts. Michaels has them also. You will get coupons in your email box almost every week, sometimes regular mail. You can spread out your purchases over time, by going to multiple places and using the discounts available. I am lucky; Michaels and Hobby Lobby are very close to each other. I stop in get what I can and leave.
- Be sure to browse the discount aisle. You will be amazed what you can get there. I got several weekly planner books with notes for only $1.00, googley eyed animal books that the younger children love, and other really great stocking stuffers. The quality is usually better than the dollar store. You can even pick up holiday scarves and mittens for just a few dollars.
- Kits are not always the best option: I started to purchase soy candle kits. Then I added it up. I could purchase double the amount in the box for still less than the kit costs. Convenience is not always best.
For more information on how to handle the holidays: