Saturday, December 4, 2010

Frugal Friday - My Favorite (Easy and Cheap!) Gifts

For Frugal Friday this week FishMama is hosting a $10 or less present carnival!  Love that!

Since my camera took a bath this last weekend (quite literally), I don't have pictures (sniff) to go with this.  I can give you ideas though!

* Homemade Ornaments!  If you're even remotely crafty, have the kids make ornaments for their teachers, grandparents and friends.  Last year we made ornaments using painted TP tubes (you could color them if you don't have paint), pipe cleaners and beads. This year, we made "cupcake" ornaments using cupcake liners, giant and mini pompoms, glue and curling ribbon.  They are adorable and the kids had a great time making gifts!  All of these things were items we already had (since we're a wee bit crafty at our house!), so they were free to make.  Total Cost for Us: Free; Roughly between $5 and $10 depending on what supplies you have to buy ($4 for a giant bag of pompoms, $1 for cupcake liners, and $2 for a bottle of glue at our craft store here).

* Homemade Baby Quilts!  I love to sew quilts - especially baby quits - and use material left over from other projects to make both the front and the back.  One of my most recent projects was to finish some quilts that I had started way long ago using leftover bridesmaid's dress fabric from my two brother-in-law's weddings.  The material was free.  The backing calico was left over from another project.  And I bought the batting on sale for $4.   I bought a 1 lb skein of white yarn for $2.99 to tie the quilts with, and after 3 quilts have plenty left for several more.  Total Cost for Us: $6.99 including yarn that can be used for other projects. (This would be over $10 if you had to buy the material too, even on sale.)

* Homemade Jean Quilts!  My favorite high school graduation gift is a queen size patchwork quilt made from worn-out jeans or twill pants. I cut out the too-worn parts from the jeans or pants and then use the rest to cut squares for the quilt. I don't line these since they're so heavy and I buy corduroy or denim on clearance to back them with.  A few years ago, my Aunt cleaned out her house in preparation for a move, and gave me about 25 yards of 60" wide denim.  I haven't had to buy denim for backing in years! These would be great for someone with a new place or newlyweds or someone who has lost things due to a disaster. Total Cost for Us: Free  (Roughly $10 if you bought the backing material and yarn on clearance sale.)

* Homemade Jam!  I bought 6 lbs of strawberries on sale for a $1 a pound at the end of summer.  With freezer jam pectin on sale for $1.50 a package, I spend $6 on strawberries and $3 on pectin and have 6 pints of freezer jam to give away plus jam for all of us for a year. I'll bake loaves of homemade whole-wheat bread and tuck these into a basket with the bread for our Pastors and their families for Christmas this year. Total cost for us: $9 for 6 gift pints and 5 quarts for ourselves.

* Gift Baskets!  I love, love, love putting together gift baskets for friends and family!  I buy baskets at our local thrift store for 25 cents each.  Then I fill them with things that are either free or close to free after coupons and sales.  I fill them with things like sample size body lotion (50 cents to $1 each), theater candy (free after sale and coupons), candles (5 to 50 cents each after sale and/or coupons), homemade rose petal potpourri (free from my own rose bushes  and other flowers and a gift of rose oil I got for my birthday one year), and hair accessories, school supplies, and small toys bought on sale with coupons.  In my MIL's gift basket I include coffee - bought on clearance sale for about $2 a bag.  I really had to laugh the first year I started doing these, because my MIL kept admonishing me not to spend so much money on gifts! Total cost for us: Maximum of $10 depending on what goes inside the basket.

* Rice Bags!  This is my dad's favorite gift ever!  I made him a pretty cover for a rice bag with leftover fabric this last year for his birthday and then made a filler bag slightly smaller out of plain white material I had and filled it with uncooked rice that I already had.  He is cold all.the.time. so this is wonderful for him - heat it briefly in the microwave and then placed around his neck to keep him warm.  He uses it on his knee when his knee aches too.  My current plan is to make him a new 'neck pillow' shaped one for Christmas.  Since I had everything to make this it was free to make.  Total Cost for us: Free; Roughly $3 for remnant fabric and $3 for the rice.

* Coupon Books!  Every year for John's birthday I print out a coupon book for various things: foot rubs, date nights, quiet study time either at the library or with me and the kids out of the house, having me do one of this chores, back rubs, and a variety of other things.  He loves it and the cost is only a few pennies for the paper and ink and a bit of ribbon to tie it. A friend made one of these for her Mom for 24 coffee dates at different shops throughout the year (her treat, of course).  And another made one for her elderly neighbor for household chores such as leaf raking, gutter cleaning, and snow shoveling.  Both were a huge hit! Total Cost for us: Free since we have all the 'stuff", roughly $5 if you don't.

* Fancy Bath Products and Make Up Gift Sets!  I think these are a great idea too - our Target has small size bottles of bath jell and lotion packaged with a bath "poof" for $2.99 right now.  I buy a ton of them (I bought 10 last week!) and use them for those "token gifts" for people all year long.  Kohl's had a make-up set for $6.99 that was perfect for our 12-year-old niece, who is just starting to wear make-up.  Both are less than $10 and make great gifts.  I've also been known to buy the multi-packs of bath jell on sale for around $5 for 10 small-size bottles, open the thing up and add them individually to the gift baskets mentioned above.

Okay, I think those are my favorites! 

I usually also make hot cocoa mix and chocolate covered marshmallows with sprinkles or colored sugar for my kids' teachers (to go with the ornaments).  I put these in a basket with a mug bought at the thrift store for about 25 cents each.  Last year I made red and green caramel corn and chocolate dipped pretzels to go with them.  This year, I'm skipping the caramel corn and I'm not sure yet about the dipped pretzels yet. We'll see.  Either way, we're good to go with gifts - at very little cost to us!

How about you? What are you making this year?

Check our Life as Mom to share your own $10 or less gift ideas and to be inspired!

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