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Penny Pinching and Gift Giving

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seashanty

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okay, i'm admitted gift giver. enjoy giving, big time.
i am not talking about volunteering and donating. those are wonderful things and we should all do them. there are some *stars* on this forum who come to mind. (you know who you are)
i am talking about the gifting of stuff to family and friends.
i don't go crazy with spending. i don't use credit cards (been there, done that, learned my lesson years ago)
so ... we probably all have stories of creative ways to be 'givers'. i thought i'd share one. maybe more as i think of them.
when my kids were little, my mom picked up an enormous bag of gift wrap for $1. at a church bazaar. she gave it to me. well, i wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. (it wasn't all christmas wrap, but i didn't care) i wrapped up individual walnuts in the shell. tiny combs. bars of soap. free magnets and little 'monthly minders' i got free from a store ... cvs is giving those out this year. i ran out of tape so most presents i twisted the ends of the paper. we made cookies as gifts for family, so i put a few cookies in paper lunch bags, wrapped those, and put them under the tree as well. my kids had a blast unwrapping all those presents.
 

Morticia

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Creative gifting on a budget...(and I would NOT wrap all those gifts, you're a nut! When the local merchant's assoc asks for volunteers to gift wrap, I hide. I hate gift wrapping!)
I got 'family gifts' when we were poor. Bear with me because I know skis are not cheap, but believe me when I say that where we lived, this was a 'poor' gift...the whole family (me & 2 kids) got x-c ski kits for Christmas (skis, poles, boots) and a family ski pass with lessons. (Comparing, as kids do, with friends who got dowhill ski kits + passes, bicycles, TV's for their rooms, video game sets + games, hundreds of dollars and all new clothes.)
I also did the 'admit one' tickets where I got invitations that looked like movie tickets (the old kind) and filled them in with things I would do with each kid. Spread the expense out over the year that way.
 

YellowSocks

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Two years ago we saw a close relative and his family... I thought about how I could get them nice gifts, that travel well, as they spent all of 2007 overseas, in spite of being on a tight budget.
They went to the dollar store.
And they didn't even wrap the gifts they gave us.
I'm thinking, gee, just give me the dollar next time....
So, this year I've been wondering what to give.... the whole family is getting peanut clusters. Now that I've discovered how easy they are to make, I'm wondering why I've ever bought candy! And choc chips and peanuts from Aldi is all I need.
=)
Kk.
 

gillumhouse

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The most touching gift I ever received was from a man at work. I did not realize how down I was that year.
He was a "user" meaning he came in to pick up reports, not someone who was in the "have to give" category. He gave me one of those crates with a couple bottles of honey in it for Christmas. All I could do was cry it was so thoughtful - remembering it still brings tears (he later died of AIDS). He taught me how important it was to give a gift just because. I was able to "pass it on" when during a conversation with another "user" she said how she would love to have "real" wine glasses but her husband had decided they were not needed, that the Welch's grape jelly glasses were good enough. I gave her a set of 4 goblets that year. Dang! but that felt good!! After that, I gave 1 lb. jars of WV honey to every person in my department on both my jobs plus the "special people" - maintenance.security - that I ordered from WV every year (72 jars) because that was big enough to say I thought of you but small enough to not require reciprocation. But that was while I was working 2 jobs, DH was working, and kids were moving out.
 

greyswan

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Several years we have made the 15 bean soup mix and have given that with the recipe for French Market Soup. It was a little rememberance and appreciated. When my oldest was a toddler, I saved the baby food jars and made mint jelly as gifts. The best ornaments are the ones we made with the kids.... wooden blocks with glitter outlining the letters and tied with ribbon like a gift and a tree hook.
 

Penelope

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I love to make candies and chocolates at Christmas time. All our friends, family, mail guy, garbage guy, people at the grain mill (I live on a farm)...they all get gift boxes from us (mostly me becuase I am the one who enjoys it) of chocolates and candies. I love it. I love the looks on their faces. It is worth it just to see the "yummy" look!!!
The kids get to help by putting the ribbons and bows and nametags on and they help deliver. Their little faces change, too, when they give the gifts.
 

gillumhouse

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I give a plate of muffins as a thank you to each of the 10 employees at the produce store because each of them does spmething to make that produce available to me. Sometimes it is to get something for me from the back and it is rare that I have to put the boxes of produce in my car. They make sure I have good produce!
 

Samster

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I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
 

seashanty

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I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
.
i make what my children call 'a vat of fudge' i triple the recipe using marshmallow fluff and bits, you know the one. it's on the fluff container. then i pour it into pans and let it set. we grew up making fudge with cocoa and granulated sugar ... but this i like better.
some years i get creative and add nuts to some, raisins to some, things like that. but i have to remember who can't eat nuts! or i don't put names on the packages, just 'contains nuts'.
some years, i have found adorable inexpensive candy boxes at a store in mass. called building 19. some years, i've used brown paper sandwhich bags.
back when all the nieces and nephews were small, i melted chocolate 'buttons' and used candy molds. then i started molding the fudge. that works too. those were sooo popular with the kids.
chocolate is very well received. still! i walk into a family gathering and the kids are playing video games or whatever and all come rushing to get their candy. i have learned to bring extras for random people who might be at the house ... like a neighbor with children. my dad would be surrounded by cardigan sweaters and books and his eyes would light up, hands extended, for his fudge (no dad this christmas for the first time ... sigh)
of all people, a DENTIST i worked for (10 years) would say 'is it time for your fudge yet?'

anyway, it's a lot of money to buy the ingredients ... but divide it up, package it cute and the per person spending is not high at all.
 

seashanty

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banana bread -- i make many, many little loaves using the yuckiest looking bananas -- check the store for the discounted bananas that aren't pretty anymore
i bring loaves to family and friends -- i wrap it and stick a pretty bow on top (recycled bows of course). i also keep some loaves around so that if someone stops in i can give them one. it freezes well if you can't use it right away.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Someone recently made s'mores with brownies. layer it like the usual - but instead of chocolate bar they used a fudgey brownie and sqwuished the marshmallows onto it then topped with other graham cracker. Just little guys about 2 inches long 1 inch wide.
You can put them on a little plate or wrap up and the are nice as goodie gifst as well.
 

seashanty

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cookie mix in a jar
save jars like tomato sauce jars. run them through the dishwasher (lids too) so they are squeaky clean. make sure they have no residue!
then make up the mix, pack into the jars, print up (or hand print) directions on a card, punch holes and attach with a ribbon to the jar. if you have a little extra $ you can put this in a box with oven mitts or a big wooden spoon or a cookie sheet (or all of these things)
i'll post the mix in the recipe section
 

MTLLodge

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I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
.
Samster said:
I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
Will you share your recipe for Ameretto and Fiddle Faddle Please and Thank you.
 

Samster

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I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
.
Samster said:
I've baked and made candy for holiday gifts. Made hot cocoa mix. Made homemade Amaretto. The old standby - Chex Mix. This great popcorn mix (like Fiddle Faddle). I LOVE those kinds of gifts myself and you can get really creative with the packaging/wrapping. World Market has holiday wines that are really reasonable too. First of December we have no guests for awhile so we'll decorate & I'll cook
Will you share your recipe for Ameretto and Fiddle Faddle Please and Thank you.
.
Sure...if I can find the box they're in. It's been a while...
 

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