60: The “Buy Nothing” Christmas

This is a novel but necessary concept for many people in this economic climate. Forced by circumstance (lay-off, bankruptcy, foreclosure, health problems, other catastrophes,) many Americans will be having a “Buy Nothing” Christmas, or at least a “Buy a WHOLE LOT LESS” Christmas this year.

Even if you aren’t under tremendous economic pressure, there are many ways to save or spend very little this holiday season.

  1. Holiday meals – In your meal planning, go a little lighter on the calorie load. If you want to splurge on Christmas, but stay within your normal budget, plan extremely frugal meals around the holidays. Breakfasts and lunches can be your real money-savers. Learn to make real oatmeal! Flavor with milk and jam or honey. For lunch, pasta dishes are some of the most low-cost meals you can make. Burritos or wraps are great lunch alternatives, too. A great dinner is homemade soup and homemade bread!
  2. Cards – Make your own. It’s just silly to spend $3-5 on a card at Hallmark!
  3. Wrapping paper – Use brown craft paper or plain white paper to wrap gifts. Use twine or raffia to tie up the package. If you are a stamper, let your imagination run wild! Make a matching card! Kids love to decorate gifts with markers and stickers, too.
  4. Have a potluck dinner with friends. Spend what you would’ve on dinner anyway.
  5. Adopt a “no gifts” policy for the adults and focus on the kids.

You can still have a wonderful Christmas without blowing your budget! Start planning now!

Photo courtesy of Joshua Davis. Thanks!

76: Make Your Own Christmas Pop-Up Cards

Pop-Up cards can be very expensive, but with some cardstock, printer, and an exacto knife, you could be on your way to pop-up card heaven!

Take this simple card to the next level by having kids decorate the tree, printing it on watercolor paper and painting it, or Photoshop your own Christmas tree into the pattern and turn IT into a pop-up!

There are a number of sites out there with various pop-up patterns available, but once you take a look at Robert Sabuda’s site and learn how to really make them, you won’t need any other site.


83: It’s Knitting Time

What are you knitting for Christmas? You’ve got just a couple of months now to plan and complete a few hand-knit gifts! We’re not talking Fair Isle cardigan sweaters here, folks, but small beginner projects that even kids who are new to knitting can complete in a short time.

One of the greatest knitting projects for beginners and oldtimers alike is cotton washcloths. For the newbie, a washcloth is the perfect size to finish quickly and get the hang of a few new skills.  For the seasoned knitter, washcloths provide the perfect canvas to try out new stitches before you commit to an afghan project or complicated sweater.

Super Simple Knit Washcloth Pattern

Materials: single-pointed needles size 6-9 (whatever you have handy!), 100% cotton yarn (Lion Cotton is widely available and relatively inexpensive), blunt needle to weave in the ends

Directions: Cast on 4 stitches, knit each row and increase 1 stitch at the end of every row, until you reach your desired diagonal size. Knit each row and decrease 1 stitch at the end of every row, until you have 4 stitches left, then bind off. Weave in the ends. Press lightly, if desired.

These make a great gift in a stack tied together with a ribbon, or packaged with a handmade soap! The recipient will be blessed and pampered by your thoughtfulness! See how pretty it can be here and here.

An incredible collection of free dish/washcloth knitting patterns, guaranteed to keep you busy!

Lion Brand Yarn Info Page – search for Lion® Cotton, Lion® Organic Cotton (gorgeous!), and Lion® Cotton 1-Lb cones.

Photo courtesy of The Shopping Sherpa

92: Custom Christmas Cards

Holiday Cards
I love to get Christmas cards! I’m not so great at sending them every year, though. I think the motivator to actually sending them out is to have a great card that you are proud of. My favorite option is to upload a photo somewhere and get cool stuff printed using that photo.

One site that I love is VistaPrint. They have all kinds of crazy specials all the time and lots of templates. If you want to try something out, you might only have to pay for shipping!

I’ve used them for printing save-the-date magnets (these were awesome!), post-it notepads, and TONS of postcard projects. They also have yard signs, car magnets, t-shirts, business cards, notepads, and notecards just to name a few. Get a custom yard sign for your next party or a car magnet for your kid’s high school band!

Give VistaPrint a try! The price is right!

94: Free Coffee Maker for the Holidays

Try Gevalia and get this FREE coffeemaker.Okay, I’m not really a coffee drinker. I enjoy the occasional cup at Starbucks or Cafe du Monde. Who can resist that? The problem is when we are entertaining over the holidays and dessert time rolls around.

“Do you have any coffee?”
“Uh, no. I don’t even have a coffee maker.”

This conversation has occurred more than a few times. For the amount of money I would spend on some decent coffee, I could get enough coffee to entertain my guests for the holidays, a coffee maker, a stainless steel carafe, and a travel mug! Wow!

Try two 1/2 pound packages of our exceptional coffee for only $22.95, including shipping and handling, and receive a 12 Cup Programmable Stainless Steel Coffeemaker, Stainless Steel Thermal Carafe & Gevalia Travel Mug as a special gift.

Even if you already have a coffee maker, it’s a good idea to have a backup or an extra one, especially if you are a coffee addict or entertaining. Give Gevalia a try and get the coffee maker, carafe, and mug FREE! I’m going to get one for the holidays, and after that, I might just keep drinking the stuff!

Finally, you are probably wondering what this has to do with kids, right? If you are a coffee drinker, you probably weren’t asking that one! For everyone else, any money saved on entertaining means more money available for other stuff, plain and simple.

P.S. They have tea, too!