Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday, Frugal Holidays

Do not be conformed to this world
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may prove what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
[Rm 12, 2]

Every year, Christmas merchandise comes out earlier and earlier. And no matter how much you try to resist the commercialism, to focus on Advent and the Nativity, it's hard to escape all the hype. As an alternative, some families I know have adopted the Hispanic tradition of exchanging gifts on the Epiphany (plus side: most things go on post-Christmas sales). I remain partial to my own family's tradition of reading from the Gospel of Matthew, Midnight Mass, followed by a family nativity play or caroling with a late supper; presents are opened the next morning.

The ideas below, culled from a variety of sources, tend more to an Advent-Nativity vision of Christmas. I am a strong proponent of store-bought Christmas purchases being completed before Advent begins. Then, in all these domestic preparations, there is more time to make our hearts ready to receive baby Jesus.

Some Frugal Holiday gift ideas, from Ravelry's Frugal Homemakers' Group
-Christmas Mason Jar Cookies (dry ingredients layered in jars)
-homemade cloth grocery bags, with a baked treat or snack inside
-homemade aprons
-homemade jam (see the Church Ladies' slow cooker apple butter & marmalade recipes)
-homemade vanilla
-homemade candy
-gift certificate to the grocery store
-Lavender sachets
-herbs in pots
-a ream of colored computer paper and a box of markers/crayons
-Festive Fivers (gifts for under 5 GBP)

Frugal Luxuries suggests
-Soup mixes in jars
-home-made epsom salt bath salts

Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette
-Hot cocoa mix
-A book of stamps & stationery
-A fruit stone wreath (spray painted gold or silver, then accentuated with evergreens)
-finishing a china pattern
-shoveling snow for an elderly family member or neighbor
-candlesticks & napkin rings made from hardware components

The Church Ladies would add:
-subscription to a newspaper or magazine
-donations to charity (Heifer is fun for kids)
-a small themed basket. To pick up all components affordably, this involves keeping your eyes open, but a few small gifts can come together nicely (A British mystery theme: Agatha Christie novel, PD James novel, box of tea, jar of lemon curd, warm socks or slippers for reading on a winter's night. For the armchair traveler: a book like Little Saint or On Pilgrimage, some coffee, a package of biscotti, and a vintage souvenir)
-Gift certificate to the local coffee shop
-supplies or tool for a hobby (may not be a surprise, but well received)
-the Priests' Christmas Basket can also be modified for almost anyone- throw in a DVD and some candy, and you have a stay at home date for a married couple

People, look East, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house as fair as you're able,
Trim the hearth, and set the table.
People, look east, and sing today:
Love, the Guest, is on the way.

1 comment:

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

What wonderful suggestions all! I am especially looking forward to trying your slow cooker marmalade recipe!! That may be a project for after the holidays, however, as the oranges on my Dad's tree are still green. I am thinking that I will make a nice batch for our gift pantry (working ahead of need :).
Thank you for the useful collection of ideas (and the kind mention).