School Friends, Teachers, Tutors – and the Christmas Shopping List Grows Longer!

With three daughters, all of whom have friends and teachers they like to give holiday gifts to, it seems that the holiday budget has to grow to nearly the size of the national debt in order for me to accommodate all the people on the list!  The kids also like to give a little something to the grandparents that’s just from them.  Add to that the people I always find at this time of year that I’d like to give a little something to – like the two girls who tutor me in chemistry and save my sanity.  And the guy who works the tutoring desk who asked me the other day if I knew the DMX song that was playing in the tutoring center (I did not) – he earned a spot on the list by insulting me when he said, “But you’d probably know it if it was Tony Bennett, right?”  He gets the burnt cookies.

But what is a mom with a budget tighter than that chunky monkey Santa’s squeeze down the chimney to do?

Let’s go to my old favorite standby – Oriental Trading.  The place has everything you could ever want to make your own inexpensive gifts!  Something cute I found that would be great for Grandmoms and teachers is this adorable gingerbread man necklace.  It’s festive for the holidays, and you can make 12 of them from one kit – that’s just over 50 cents each!  For the teacher, add a $5 Starbucks gift card, and she’ll have something handmade to help her remember your child for years to come, plus she gets a little treat while she’s out doing her own Christmas shopping!  You can find this and MANY more gift ideas at www.orientaltrading.com.

For your teenagers friends, think along the lines of something your own teen would like.  Perhaps have him/her choose a collection of songs they like and make each teen a CD that they’ll all enjoy listening to.  Teenagers also love photos of themselves with their friends, and you can find frames of all sizes and shapes at the dollar store.  Buy a simple frame, grab some wooden letters that spell out BFF at your craft store, have your teen paint them, then glue them to the front of the frame.  Print out your teen’s favorite picture with each friend to put in the frames, and viola – the perfect gift for around $2.50!

Younger kids get a kick out of snowman soup!  Again, hit up places like Oriental Trading or the dollar store, and find some inexpensive holiday themed mugs (Oriental Trading usually has plastic ones at $10 per dozen.  In each one, put a single packet of hot cocoa mix, a chocolate kiss or two, a candy cane, and a few marshmallows.  Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tag it with this little poem:

Snowman Soup
Was told you’ve been real good this year.
Always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You’ll need to warm the spirit.
So here’s a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow.
It’s sure to do the trick!


These also make great party favors for your holiday parties, and if you are going to make a bunch, skip the mug and put the ingredients in a holiday treat bag, twist tied at the top.  You eliminate the cost of the mug and save about .75 per gift!

Never underestimate the value of Christmas cookies and holiday fudge.  I know we all say a dozen times a year “If I eat one more Christmas cookie, I’m going to explode!”  But we usually say it as we are snagging another cookie.  What other time of the year are you going to have this many fabulous treats in front of you?  As someone who is lucky I don’t burn the slice and bake variety of cookies, homemade treats are one of my favorite gifts!

I hope this helps you save a little in your holiday budget for you to do something nice for yourself this Christmas season.  Splurge on some fuzzy slippers you can wear while sipping your snowman soup and noshing on those Christmas cookies.  You know you deserve it!.

 

 

 

Frugal Christmas – What to Get Grandmom?

You know Grandmom.  She’s the one person on your Christmas list you have no idea what to get.  She has everything, if she doesn’t have it, she doesn’t want it, and she’d probably rather see you spend the money on the grandkids than on her.  But you have to get her something – it’s Christmas!

Gone are the days of the Grandmoms who sat home, watching her stories, crocheting slippers.  Grandmoms now come from a generation of working women, and many of them work still.  They are more likely to be out and about, active in more organizations or hobbies, and not the type of sit at home, wait until family comes kind of grandmom.

I love the jar gifts for Grandmoms.  I know, you’re thinking they’re played out, no one uses them, and you don’t want to give an old idea new life.  But guess what?  On the days Grandmom heads out in the morning to play tennis, stops to have a coffee with her friends at Starbucks, puts an hour or two of time in with some volunteer work, and stops at the grocery store to pick stuff up for a weekend sleepover with the grandkids, she doesn’t feel like making a big dinner from scratch.  But as active and healthy as she is, you want to keep in mind that she is a senior citizen, and frozen foods loaded with fats and sodium aren’t good for her.

How awesome would it be for her to come home, dump out the jar of ingredients into a big pot, throw in some cubed meat or diced chicken she picked up at the grocery store, and let it simmer on the stove while she checks her email and catches up on Facebook?  Dinner in an hour, and she’s beaten your score on Bejeweled Blitz and harvested 800 crops on her Farmville farm while it cooked!

And when she has the kids over this weekend, it will be fun for Grandmom and the grandkids to whip up a batch of muffins or cookies, using the jar gift you gave her.  She doesn’t have to scramble to find the ingredients in the pantry, and she doesn’t have to buy a whole bag of brown sugar, which she won’t need again until it is petrified way beyond viability.  She and the kids just dump the ingredients into a mixing bowl, add some eggs or oil, and in a matter of minutes, Grandmom is the superstar of the weekend with fresh, hot, homemade cookies.  We’ll let Grandpop put the dishes in the dishwasher!

Food is always a great gift for an active senior – the easier, the better.  And if you can make it healthy by assembling it yourself, you’ve got an inexpensive winner of a holiday gift!