Frugal Christmas: Last minute preparations

This will be the last installment in the Frugal Christmas series or 2013. With only  2 days before Christmas I debated on doing this last post but as usual I found interesting ideas and thoughts about Christmas and gift giving that I wanted to share.

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This is the time when stores love those last minute purchases we run out to make.  It may be tape or wrapping paper, or a gift because we think we need to balance out what we bought for one person with what we have for another, a big thing to some parents.  And then there is the food we decide we want to add to our holiday meal.  I have a few ideas to help you avoid this last minute spending, much of which goes on credit cards at this late date.

When it comes to our children what I most often hear is something along the lines of “I want my children to have what I didn’t” This appears to be the biggest reason so many packages are under the tree for them.  Have you taken a moment to stop and think about what you are teaching them with this habit?  In a time when good jobs are hard to come by today’s youth may never see the incomes we knew, having less money to spend on the holidays.  Lili, has seen her family’s income fall drastically this year when her husband’s income was cut.  She has had to live with a very tight budget as a result.  This week, she shared with us what she is really giving her children.  There is a lot to think about in this post, I hope you find a moment to take a look before you head back out to the store for another gift.

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Think you have run out of things to wrap your gifts in? Look through your stash of fabrics, bandanas, scarves, etc and try this Japanese cloth folding technique tutorial.  I think it looks lovely, much nicer than paper or gift bags any day.

red hearts

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Don’t run out and buy another box of decorations thinking your home doesn’t look festive enough.  A touch of red will make all the difference from a simple red blanket tossed over one end of the couch or a bit of red added to the walls.Or use candles around the house in whites or reds to get the look you want.  For more simple decorating ideas check out these 14 other rooms. Not a one of them goes overboard in the decorating yet each space is festive and inviting.

Jen found an inexpensive (free) way to make a holiday candle holder out of what ever you have on hand, and it won’t take but a few minutes to create.

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For that last minute gift, instead of heading back to the mall or paying for exorbitant overnight shipping why not give an online Crafting class?  Condo Blues suggested this and I think it’s a great idea. You can choose from any of the following classes, or give a “pick your own class” cost is just $30:

  • cake decorating,
  • weaving
  • crochet,
  • knitting,
  • sewing,
  • home and garden,
  • food and cooking,
  • fine art,
  • photography,
  • quilting,
  • jewelry,
  • embroidery,
  • spinning,
  • paper crafts,

You will receive a 100% money back guarantee, watch your classes on your own schedule and your access never expires.  If you have the time in the next two days you can try a mini-class for free.  Get more information here.

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I found this in a catalog and thought it was a cute idea but not one I would spend that much money on.  If you have a relative on your list why not pull out one of your existing ball ornaments and let your children design it with their hand print. This will be a gift that might be last minute but will be treasured every holiday when decorations are pulled out.

Food is the bond that brings people together.  This doesn’t mean you have to go all out and sacrifice sleep to have a lovely dinner for your family and guests this Christmas.  Keep it simple.  Pull out the slow cooker, fill it with potatoes, vegetables (my favorite is to combine carrots and onions) don’t forget you can do a roasted vegetable dish with squashes, peppers and more in the slow cooker.  You can add your meat if you eat it on top and walk away.  For Christmas day I will be using my slow cooker to do a roast (since I am the only vegetarian that will be here) and vegetables and potatoes.  In my rice cooker I’ll use the steam tray to do steam a variety of vegetables and squashes with some herbs.  A side dish will be homemade applesauce pulled from the freezer.

macaroni-and-cheese

On New Year’s with my youngest arriving with his family I will again pull out the slow cooker to make macaroni and cheese.  In the rice cooker I’ll boil potatoes for mashed potatoes and steam veggies while the potatoes cook as each of us loves a good amount of vegetables.  I will most-likely pull out more of the applesauce as the children love it and my son doesn’t get homemade applesauce often, a childhood favorite of his.

Rather than creating a menu that has me slaving away in the kitchen, I try to make a few favorites my family doesn’t get to have often, such as my home made applesauce.  It’s not about how much food or what the food is, it’s about sitting down together. Of course there will be a pie, I just haven’t decided which ones. I’m thinking  a sweet potato pie one day and maybe a pumpkin roll instead the next.  So simplify your menu and spend more time with your loved ones.

Do you have “rules” surrounding gift giving?  I have one, there must be a gift for every person who joins us. It might be a simple gift of a book or a handmade decoration they can take home but no one gets to sit here watching others receive gifts when they don’t.  Happy Simple Living takes on the rules of gifting in this short post entitled Be Mindful These Next Four Days.

And now for the winner of the Quinoa Quookbook.  All names were put in a bowl and drawn by my granddaughter.  The winner is:  

Alexis Plett

Congratulations, Alexis,  I’ll be sending you an email shortly.

32 Comments

  1. Lovely Post again Lois…You are so right when so many go overboard on presents, and we teach our children nothing in expecting more when we do this..
    I was heartened in listening to a young female co-worker who hasn’t that much spends extra in cash this year as her partner and her split and she has a little one of 2 to look after and pay child-minding fees. So her idea to treat her relatives and friends was to take them out for a coffee this year with some one to one time, as a treat.. as she can not really afford to spend on presents… I said I expect they would really appreciate that..

    Lois Sending you my thoughts for a wonderful Christmas with your family, I am off to my Granddaughters later this evening for a little party there.. and they are coming over tomorrow here… So it will be nice…
    Enjoy and take care… see you after the festivities die down :-) Big Hugs Sue xox

    • Sue, I would so appreciate a bit of one on one time with a good friend like your co-worker is doing. That would mean so much more than knowing she scraped to come up with a bought gift.

      Have a wonderful time with your granddaughter, as I know you will. The holidays are always more fun with little ones. I had my granddaughter over night last evening. She walked in and announced we were going to craft together. :-) Being almost Christmas I had a few planned ahead of time. We crafted all evening and again all morning. Then I surprised her by pulling out a holiday shirt she was upset to have outgrown. We cut it and turned it into a pillow. You would have thought I’d given her the moon. :-)

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Sue.

  2. I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and have been very appreciative of the time you spend and the information you share with us. I especially enjoy your “Friday Faves.” So, along with wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, I send you thanks for all your hard work, insight, and common sense and will continue to be a loyal reader.

  3. I think it’s nice for everyone to get a gift on the Christmas morning. It was weird to exchange with my immediate family on Sunday and my aunts and uncles be there – at least there weren’t any small kids to get sad or upset (not like the weekend’s Kris Kringle, which I chose not to participate in – some kid opened his gift, then grabbed the one he knew his parents bought for another kid. Wow, did his mother scold him :().

    Thankfully, I decided that what I gave my family is from me and the BF and likewise in the opposite way. It’s not ideal, but it saves too much worry. Though the BF also bought my mum some flowers too… so that’ll get him a long way!

    • How funny as long a you weren’t the parent of the boy who wanted what his mother brought. I can see a young child doing that. :-) When it comes to guests, especially when they were invited to join, they shouldn’t leave without something as a token to let them know they are appreciated. A good friend of mine, decided the ultimate cleaning tool was a microfiber cloth. So she bought a stack of them, wrapped them up to hand out to anyone who showed up as she has this open door policy over the holidays.

      When it comes to couples I think how you handled it is the best way to give a gift. You can save a bit of money or you can pull resources to give one slightly more expensive gift.

      Merry Christmas to you, hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow.

  4. I’ve so enjoyed your frugal Christmas series, and thank you for sharing the foods you’ll be preparing this week. I love the macaroni and cheese idea – pure comfort food! But I didn’t know you could make it in the slow cooker – that sounds especially wonderful. Happy, happy Christmas to your and your family, Lois. xoxo

    • Eliza it’s good to know you enjoyed this series, it was a lot of fun. Sort of like window shopping. :-) My holiday meals are very different from how I eat the rest of the year. There is nothing better than using a slow cooker to prepare your meal because there is no watching over the food necessary letting me visit with family without one eye on a clock fearful of overcooking the food. We can eat when we are ready and not when the food is.

      Yes, it’s very simple to make the macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker, Just mix everything together and turn it on. No need to even pre-cook the pasta

  5. Merry Christmas to you Lois! Thank you so much for mentioning my candle holder. I really liked the idea of wrapping gifts in nice scarfs which you can usually get very cheaply at thrift shops. I once wrapped food gifts in tea towels and jute string which looked nice too. I have to say, I’m a little envious of that open fire you have a photograph of….

  6. oh my typo – lol – enough GIFTS under the tree! For the last few years I’ve moved toward a simpler Christmas – a Christmas more about the love of our family – My mother was ahead of her time – she never over did it with gifts and our Christmas dinners were always simple, delicious and fun!

    • I knew what you meant, although I did have a laugh picturing your tree with baby trees under it. :-) Your mother was so smart, I used to overdo things when my boys were young, from the decorating to the food and yes even presents. I was a single mother who because I refused to have my children raised by sitters struggled to make good money. Things were tight and there were limits on what I could do for them during the year. So Christmas was my one time of the year to try and make it up to them. They knew it was about being with those we loved so I guess I sent contradictory messages for a couple of years. What I learned from that was that the boys remembered a funny story or a particular food and even the way the house was decorated, but a few months after Christmas couldn’t tell you most of what they received. I got the message and decided to simplify and be true to what I knew was best for them.

  7. Hi Lois – so true – the pressure to put on this grand meal and enough trees under the tree takes away the true spirit of Christmas – it’s about enjoying a few little extra treats, getting together with family and friends and being grateful for what we have…Merry Christmas to you and thank you for posting this series of a frugal Christmas..

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