This time of year gift giving is one everyone's mind. The reality is gifts do not have to be expensive and you can even make gives next to nothing or for no cost. All you have to do is use your imagination and a little ingenuity. Here's a few easy low cost and now cost ideas to get you going:
- plants - I simply take cutting from houseplants and root them in a recycled pot, add a recycled bow and hand printed tag for an easy gift suitable for any time of the year.
- terrariums - This is a spin off of the plant idea only using the 1 gallon pickle jars. A lot of restaurants will give these to you free if you ask and they make wonderful terrariums. If you want you can buy a small box of aquarium charcoal to help keep the terrarium fresh but a good bed of free stones under the soil works well too. I like to add a small figurine or a couple of pretty stones or even a couple of shells but even that isn't necessary.
- family cookbook - If you buy an actual notebook it will cost about 89¢ but if you are handy on the computer you can create a cookbook complete with pictures then burn it to CD or if you don't want to spend anything upload it to a free hosting site then give the recipient a card with the link so they can download the cookbook themselves. This also works for family scrapbooks and similar books.
- board games - We currently have 4 homemade board games, made from scrap lumber. One is the holy board played with homemade beanbags made from scrap material and stuffed with white beans (you can use rice). One is a crochono board made from a pattern, one is a joker board (something like Parcheese but played with cards), and one is a number board played with dice.
- mixes in jars - Depending on how well stocked your pantry is a surprising number of mixes can be made for gift giving without you having to out and buy something special. I'm partial to bread, cake and cookie mixes for gift giving but any mix can make a gift. Use a recycled jar or check freecycle for mason jars. Add a nice, hand printed recipe to use the mix tied with a piece of ribbon or twine and a wooden spoon (optional but can get a 4 pk at the dollar store).
- sticks - For the gardener in your life, stick trellises are all the rage. Collect three nice sized sticks about an inch or so in diameter and about 3 feet long. Add a nice size piece of twine and a hand written card. You can even collect enough to build a trellis ladder something any self respecting gardener would cherish. Believe it or not sticks can make for gorgeous walking canes or hiking sticks as well. If using for this purpose go just a little thicker and longer.
- pine cones - Collect pinecones then spray paint them metallic if you have the spray paint or what I prefer is to soak them in a solution of cinnamon and water then let them dry well for a nice, holiday scent.
- potporri - Homemade potporri is wonderful and doesn't cost you anything more than your time to collect and prepare. Don't forget to add thin slices of dried citrus as it will add a nice scent and it was something you would be discarding anyway.
- the go tos - Give the gift of a 'go to'. What this is really is a way to socialize without spending more than the meal prep. One of our kids does a go to with another couple each Saturday night alternating the nights they will provide a low cost frugal meal. The nice thing about this is you get to try foods you might not normally try and the emphasis is on frugal. For example one Saturday night the meal might be homemade pizza while the next Saturday night the other couple brings a homemade soup. The kids play together and the adults get a bit of adult conversation :)
- paint it - I mentioned I have a lot of crafty type things. Did you know the perfect shaped stone can be turned into a turtle with just a little craft paint? We have a gorgeous and I do me gorgeous flat rock that a local artist painted a beautiful mountain scene on so this type of thing can lead to a small cottage industry income as well. I don't throw out paint so even the last bits of room paint ends up getting used.
- rainy day kit - Kids love things like goop, homemade playdough, the "I Spy Jar", and that type of thing. Throw in a few dollar store finds like paper punches and crayons and you have the perfect kid friendly rainy day kit.
- hand knitted or crocheted items - I always have a large stash of yarn to use up but if you don't check your local Freecycle. There are a number of free patterns available online as well so you don't have to pay for a pattern to make something.
- the movie night packet - One of the best gifts we came up with was a movie night packet. It included a bottle of pop, a bag of popcorn, and the current VHS movie of the day.