Saturday, December 10, 2011

Creating a Frugal and Beautiful Christmas

Photo Credit
I was going to write this post up yesterday, but I spent the evening listening to a group of singers I discovered called Il Divo. Their Christmas album is positively heavenly. Music has a way of touching me, such that I can hardly focus on anything else.

But I digress.

Since we are sticking to a tight budget, we don't spend much on non-essentials, even during the holidays. But that doesn't mean we go without beauty and memorable moments. Here are some of the  gifts and traditions I have run across in the past few years. Some of them I have incorporated already. Some of them I would love to begin at some point in the future.

-One of my high school friends had a wonderful tradition during the advent season. They would turn the lights down in the evening, light the candles (another each day), and read scripture pertaining to the season. Sitting in the candlelight sipping peppermint cocoa is one of my favorite memories.
-Driving to look at Christmas lights. My grandparents did this with us a lot and it became something I looked forward to.
-Make a popcorn string for the tree with a needle and thread. Make sure to save some for eating, too!
-Build a fire in the fireplace (if you have one), turn the lights off (and the tree lights on), and listen to your favorite Christmas music.
-Bake your favorite Christmas goodies and eat them with some hot apple cider.
-Put on your favorite Christmas movie while decorating the tree.
-Read a Christmas-themed story to the kids each night in December.
-Make a simple advent calendar, putting a different activity for each day (use some of the above and add your own).
-Attend a Christmas eve church  service with the  whole family. This has really served to get us in the mindset to be thankful for the gift of Christ.
-Invite someone to spend Christmas with your family that might otherwise end up alone for the holidays.
-My favorite tradition that we do with the kids now is that I spend the time right before bed on Christmas eve blowing up a large package of balloons and cover the living room floor with them. When the kids wake up, it's play time. This is a frugal, yet magical way to bring lots of joy to little ones. They love this!

-Make a fleece blanket or scarf.
-Knit or crochet a simple blanket, scarf, or kitchen rag.
-Sew some flannel pajama pants or pillowcases, both of which are simple patterns, even if you're a beginning sewer.
-Design paper dolls and clothes for a little girl. I'm going a more time-consuming route with these and making girls paper doll sets out of felt so they will last.
-Sew and decorate new stockings.
-Make drink mixes for flavored coffees, hot cocoas, or teas.
-Make candies, cookies, or breads and put them in holiday gift bags/tins.
-Put together simple themed gift baskets (spa, movie, gardening, arts & crafts, etc.) The sky is really the limit here. You can come up with lots of frugal, fun items that anyone would love to receive.
-Give framed family pictures.
-Make ornaments. You can get really creative with things you already have on hand. Or head to the local craft store.
-Make gift certificates for things your loved one would appreciate, such as babysitting, housecleaning, a massage, etc. Let them arrange to cash them in throughout the year.
-Stuff stockings with small, fun items. Examples include candy (homemade or otherwise), trail mix, gum, lotion, nail polish, socks, ornaments, small games, toys, books, puzzles, crayons, gloves, stickers, etc. My grandparents always put an orange in the toe of our stockings, so now we do the same. We loved coming down and opening our stockings on Christmas morning. Everything was wrapped and packaged, even the small packs of gum. So fun!
-On Christmas eve, we give each of the kids a new book and new pair of jammies. They need not even be brand new. Consignment shops, garage sales, and thrift stores can all be a wealth of great items that are more than gift-worthy.

These are just a few ideas. Just do a web search for homemade or frugal Christmas gifts and you'll have more ideas than you know what to do with.


Amanda said...

We do a "lights drive" with Christmas music and hot chocolate every year, I think I enjoy it more than my son.

I love the balloon idea! I am going to have to steal that one. Thanks

Robyn said...

Another nice Christmas gift you could give out, or make one for yourself is one of those fabric wreaths! I plan on doing this with my boys this week sometime! I'm taking a wire hanger, shaping it in a circle and tying a BUNCH of christmassy fabic all around it. It looks like so much fun and I plan on doing it not only for Christmas, but other holidays as well!

miraclebaby said...

good idea, Robyn!