The less money you have to spend on Christmas the earlier you
have to get started. Bargains go quickly as we all know.
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
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
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 goodnight basket.
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 magazine.
Haunt the cut price shops for presents that may just need some
creative pairing with another inexpensive item to make a lovely
A scented candle and bubble bath
Recipe book and mixing bowl or cookery utensils
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
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
Help to pack out your own children's stockings by making a whole
videotape of their favourite television programmes, 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 surprized at how well they will be received.
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.
Â©Colleen Moulding 1999
About the author
Colleen Moulding is a
freelance writer from England where she has
had many features on parenting, childcare, travel,
the Internet and many more subjects 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.