The less money you have to spend on Christmas
the earlier you have to get started. Bargains go quickly as we all
Firstly, make sure you get along to any car
boot/garage/yard/tag sales in your area, looking out for baskets
that you can package gifts in, pretty china, toys in excellent
condition with all the pieces present, inexpensive hand made crafts
and second hand books that look brand new.
Also keep an eye open for children's videos
and puzzles - count the pieces, board games - check the contents,
and potted up houseplant cuttings that you can grow on and put into
a pretty pot. Don't worry too much about toys for tinies being boxed
- they won't mind if it's wrapped in gift paper as long as all the
bits are there.
Baskets can be washed in warm water and dried
outside or in the airing cupboard, then filled with items especially
chosen for the person you're giving to.
For example, for a friend who loves sewing,
make up a patchwork basket, containing a template for the shapes,
ready cut squares or hexagons of fabric, threads, needles,
pincushion or scissors.
Two mugs, special tea bags, mini pots of honey
and marmalade make a breakfast basket, similarly mugs, sachets of
hot chocolate, and a lavender sachet to aid peaceful sleep make a
Crumple tissue paper into the basket first,
then arrange the items prettily before covering with cellophane and
tying with crinkly ribbon and gift bows.
A variation on this theme is a gardener's
flower pot. Half fill a flowerpot with crumpled paper or straw.
Arrange packets of seeds, inexpensive hand trowel/fork, plant
labels/ties, notebook, green string and budget gardening book or
Haunt the cut price shops for presents that
may just need some creative pairing with another inexpensive item to
make a lovely gift.
A scented candle and bubble bath
Recipe book and mixing bowl or cookery
Joke book and whoopee cushion
Video, cola and popcorn
Pack of cards and six pack of lager/beer
Paperback book and box of chocolates
Houseplant and plant care guide
Calendar and diary
Hair scrunchies and hairbrush or shampoo
Disposable camera or film and photo album
Once you start thinking along these lines
you'll probably come up with lots more ideas of your own.
Use the skills you have to make presents. If
you can cook make cakes, cookies or fudge. If you can sew make
frilled cushion covers to match your friend's room scheme from
remnants of fabric. If you can arrange flowers fix a piece of
florist's foam to a piece of bark or charity shop shallow bowl and
make a Christmas arrangement with berries, cones and foliage that
you can pick up for free.
Grandparents are usually more than happy to
receive framed photographs of their precious grandchildren - the
collage type are often particularly welcome.
Or what about printing out an inspirational
piece of poetry or prose such as Desiderata in an antique type font.
Paint it with a solution of tea to "age" it a little and
frame it for an unusual gift.
Help to pack out your own children's stockings
by making a whole videotape of their favorite television programs,
icing cookies with their initials and making up little craft boxes
containing paper, glue, sticky shapes, oddments of wool for hair and
felt cut into shapes for eyes, mouths, noses etc.
Finally if you have no cash at all write or
print out some gift vouchers offering your time for babysitting,
housework, gardening, decorating, car washing - whatever you can
manage. You will be surprised at how well they will be
And remember none of your friends or family
would want you to go without essentials or get into debt just to
give them a present.
It's very easy to lose sight of this fact as
we are seduced by all the advertising hype.
2000 Colleen Moulding
Colleen Moulding is a freelance writer from England where she has
had many features on parenting, childcare, travel, the Internet and
lots more published in national magazines and newspapers. She has
also published a variety of women's and children's fiction. Her work
frequently appears at many sites on the Internet and at her own site
for women and children. All That Women Want.com, a magazine, web
guide and resource for women everywhere. http://www.allthatwomenwant.com
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