Gifts and Sanity for the Holidays

This year, I refused to take part in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with two exceptions: the unbelievable low subscription price on a magazine I had been waiting to get and CurrClick‘s offer of freebies with no purchase required. My reason for not “shopping until I dropped”, in real life or online, is purely from a realization I had about 8 years ago when we had very, very little money for Christmas. During that time, I found that I liked myself, my family, and the holidays better when we focused on giving gifts that would mean something special and that we had made.

That year we purchased our Angel Tree gifts new, as required, but from there everything we gave as gifts was either made or purchased from a thrift store and repurposed. At the most, we spent $20 on gifts that year, not including the Angel Tree gifts.

For my little sister, who was 3 or 4 at the time and in that “little helper” stage, I made a little apron, pinafore style. The pattern I drew on the back of a paper shopping bag and used muslin I had already on hand from another project I had abandoned. I’m not a very good seamstress, and had never made my own pattern before, but somehow it turned out cute.

For two of my younger brothers who were maybe 7 and 8, my husband made little treasure boxes from two left over fence boards we had. I lined them with felt I already had. We bought hinges, a clasp for each, and a small keyed padlock for each. They loved having their own little treasures boxes; what little boy doesn’t like having a secret place to hide their treasures.

That year I discovered that precious little gifts, inexpensive in cost, but thoughtfully put together, meant more than all the money I could spend. Since then, we’ve carried on the tradition of making gifts where we can, or buying gifts that we put a very personal touch on. Not only does this save us money but it also builds bonds within our family. We spend November and December brainstorming, creating, and wrapping, talking, laughing, reminesning about our family and friends.

Instead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all the other commercial ploys to get us to buy and over extend ourselves financially, let’s embrace the spirit of giving, sharing, and fellowship that should come with Christmas. 

For the next 24 days leading up to Christmas, I’ll be sharing some of the great gift ideas, traditions, and insights that we’ve run across during this journey.  Please join in by sharing your favorite homemade and/or thougtful gift idea, favorite traditions, or stories of a favorite gift. 

The more we can encourage each other and give each other the ideas and tools we want and need, the better.

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2 Responses to Gifts and Sanity for the Holidays

  1. Tonya says:

    Hi Shannon! I love the blog you’ve created and especially enjoyed this article. Although I appreciate gifts that are thoughtfully created just for me, my family has been disappointed with the response from our extended family when we have given them handcrafted gifts in the past. They are still of the mentality that they aren’t interested if it doesn’t cost a lot of money…very frustrating! We have made some gifts that were appreciated by some. Those gifts have included no-sew fleece blankets after painstakingly choosing patterns that we thought would be enjoyed by the recipient, handmade, scented candles (vanilla and coffee bean, YUM!), scrapbooks of special events, and calendars showcasing the kid’s artwork (appreciated by some, but not all). For the past few years I have enjoyed making my grandparents their own personalized giant print calendar with photos of my kids spending time with them. Both my grandma and grandpa appreciate this gift and look forward to receiving a new one each year. This year money will be especially tight, so I’ll have to be really creative to come up with ideas that will please everyone. I’m looking forward to reading your future posts! Merry Christmas!

  2. sstoltz says:

    Tonya,
    These are a great ideas. Just yesterday I was showing another mom how easy it is to make the no-sew fleece blankets. We did 12 of those on year as gifts and 10 for a service project. For the service project, we did them all in one color, but for the gifts, Kate, Josh, and I spent an hour at the fabric store, selecting just the right patterns for each person, so they were customized.

    I love scented candles as a gift. Vanilla is my favorite, but have never tried coffee bean. Candles are
    great gifts. I nearly always give them as wedding gifts as well.

    I love the ideas of scrapbooks and custom calendars. I’ve not done the calendars yet, but would love to with my photos. I’ll have to give that a try.
    Thanks for sharing these ideas!!
    …Shannon

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