I have to say that I happen to adore the holidays.
Spending time with family, laughing, meeting up with friends, eating winter food, celebrating traditions, seeing sparkly lights everywhere, what's not to love about the holidays?
Oh, right, the stress. The pressure of making sure everyone on your list gets just the right thing. Or at least something. You worry about the potential embarrassment of someone who wasn't on your list showing up with a gift because you made it to his list. So you end up buying extra gifts. Not thoughtful, no. These are the “just in case” presents that, if you let them, will completely nickel and dime your holiday budget to death.
Fear not, though, for there is a solution. It's cheaper than whatever you happened to find at the grocery store and more thoughtful than a Starbucks gift card.
Kathleen's Homemade Christmas
In 2007, I started making holiday gifts for my friends and family. This was well before I was frugal on the internet.
I get good feedback from “Kathleen's Homemade Christmas” and it's always (and I do mean always!) cheaper than trying to find something at the last minute.
So, what have I done?
- In 2007, I sent an assortment of baked goods. I can't remember anything other than the cranberry pistachio biscotti.
- In 2008, I painted canvas bags… and filled them with salted caramels and toffee. I hoped people didn't like the caramels so much, but that's the one part they liked more than anything else. I knew then that I'd be sending caramels every year.
- In 2009, I combined forces with my mom and roommate, and we made homemade coffee liqueur (which tasted good if you couldn't side-by-side compare it against actual Kahlua), pineapple hot sauce and mango mustard. My mom nearly died when she had to peel 200 something cloves of garlic for our hot sauce. Also, salted caramels.
- In 2010, we made balsamic infused salt and lemon rosemary salt. Also, caramels. Maybe something else?
- In 2011, I made coasters out of bathroom tiles and decorative paper, as well as varnish. They went over really well! I also made tiny powerful magnets with pictures, half marbles and strong magnets. Everyone still has them on their refrigerators. Of course, I added salted caramels. I also added a Christmas letter, which had a wider distribution than the gifts. I made my sister an advent calendar, too, which she thought was fun, until she started opening them, and realized that I put a lot of stupid crap in the boxes. Noted, kid. Noted.
This year, I'm thinking I'll do “sugar and spice, and something nice” — and be very cutesy about the whole thing. So, caramels, some sort of spice mix, and … something nice.
I think I'll do photo journals. I like the tutorial linked here (though, the person who did the tutorial clearly doesn't do this kind of thing anymore, since her website is dead). That way, the whole thing will fit in a $5.25 flat rate box.
How to Implement your own Homemade Holiday
Talk to your friends and family. There will be people (like my little sister) who will not be satisfied with a homemade gift. In that case, just get them the usual bath or skincare product from a site like Well. You can find a Well.ca coupon here, which is a great way to save.
Most, though, will be receptive. There's something funny about gift exchanging. Sometimes, people respond in a completely unexpected way. They say, “OH NO! I didn't get you anything!” which in my opinion is just sad.
That's not the point. So you can disarm them, and say, “oh, no! this? It's just a small token of our friendship,” and they will feel much better. Because, oddly, people don't think homemade presents cost a thing.
Which is fine. It is truly better to give than receive.
I would MUCH RATHER give these small tokens and not get candles or calendars or something else generic in return.
What about you? Have you ever made gifts? Will you this year?