Friday, December 30

Low-Cost Christmas 2011

I know I've said several times through the summer that I picked up great Christmas gifts on the cheap by garage sale hunting, and now that Christmas is past and I won't ruin any surprises, I can share the gifts with you!

I know the idea of yard-sale gifts for Christmas doesn't sit well with some, but I think Michelle Duggar says it best with the motto "Buy used, save the difference!" We embraced this philosophy this Christmas as much as possible by buying gifts used, or making them ourselves. And you know what? Our families got WAY better gifts that way. We had a very small budget this year ($5 per person, we have a lot of people to buy for!) and instead of getting them one little cheapy gift from the store, we were able to get them much more! Here are a few of the gifts we picked up for the people on our list....

Gramps - two books (1), two belts (free with rebate!) Total $1

Grammy - Mexican Train game (3), kitchen shears set (1) Total $4

Papa - Camping dishes set Total $5

Auntie B - teapot & cups (1!!!!), two shirts (1.15) - Total $2.15!

Auntie B's Birthday - purse (2), two shirts (1.15) - Total $3.15

Auntie S - notebook (2) & a purse I made here (free) Total $2

Auntie S's Birthday - infinity scarf I made (3), 2 shirts (1.15) Total 4.15

 Auntie C - snowboard (1.50), notebook (2), shirts (1.50) Total $5

Auntie M - Origami set (5), shirts (1.50) Total $6.50 (oops)

Aunties J & I - Furry Frenzies set (5), Hotel for Dogs DS game (5 not pictured) Total $10

Baby B - Dino shirt & jacket (1), sock monkey (5 new), monsters I made here (free), a new spaceship shirt (5) Total $11

Here are the clothes I distributed to my sisters. The 8 in the top pic were $5 total, the six in the bottom pic were $0.75 total.

And now I'll spill the beans on the things we got new. You always wanted to know all my secrets. We found a new store called Five Below where everything is under $5, so we did the rest of our shopping there to keep within our budget. That's our secret. :) So we were able to get gifts like these for under $5 each....

I also made some of our gifts to save some $$$. I only made a few things this year for two reasons. 1- I found most of my gifts so cheap by shopping yard sales that I ended up with better deals than if I made things. 2- it's just hard to get things done with a baby in the house! :) But here are the few things I did manage to make:

An infinity scarf. I based it on a few tutorials but changed things a little to find a way that I thought was easier. I'm working on some more and I'll be putting together a tutorial when I do. I spent $3 on this project. P.S. I'm really wishing I'd bought more of this fabric!

 Little crochet monsters. I made some for Baby B & his friends, you can read all about them here. I used yarns I had purchased in a big box at a yard sale this summer for $4. It didn't take much yarn to make each monster.

I made some more earrings to tuck in with gifts . You can read about them here or buy some in our etsy shop. These are great because they can be made with the tiniest left over scraps of fabric.

These are travel size shopping bags. They roll up small to fit in your purse and then you can pull them out when you need a shopping bag (tutorial here). Now I want to make one for myself! It takes less than 1 yard of fabric to make a bag, and I was able to use mostly scraps and leftovers to make mine.

A few final ways I saved were by shopping sales and using coupons and rebates. I used a Menards rebate sale to get my dad belts for free, and a set of shears for myself for $0.99. I also used a coupon plus sale at Michael's to get some super cheap vases to add to a few gifts. 

So those are the secrets of how we stayed within our budget while Christmas shopping. Did you save money buy making gifts or buying used this year? 

Monday, December 26

Christmas Traditions?

This was our first Christmas as a family of three and it got me thinking. So I thought I'd ask around for ideas and suggestions! Here goes...

What kinds of traditions to you share with your family? Do you bake cookies together? Look at Christmas lights? Do you do the same thing every year? - We don't really have any traditions yet, except traveling to see family and participating in traditions at each home. I did like making Baby B's "pickle" ornament and would like to do something like that every year.

How do you keep the focus on Jesus? Reading the story together Christmas Eve? Baking a birthday cake on Christmas? - He is the reason for the season, after all. How to you keep that in the forefront of the celebrations? - I definitely like the birthday cake idea.

What do you do about Santa? Do you do gifts from him & leave out cookies and milk? Do you read the story but point out that it's just a story? Have St. Nicholas fill the stockings and take credit for the rest of the presents? Leave Santa out of it?

How do you do Christmas gifts? Do you do a lot or a few? Open them Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Put them out Christmas Eve when the kids are asleep or ahead of time? - I love looking at them under the tree ahead of time, but now that we have Baby B I think it would be really fun to surprise him by putting them out the night before. I've also heard a few gift mottos that I like - "Something the want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read" and "3 gifts because Jesus got 3 gifts."

We got a free pass this year because Baby B is so small and we spent our time traveling to see our families. But we may need to be a little more prepared for next year. :) So fire away! I'd appreciate any & all thoughts & suggestions!

Friday, December 23

Merry Monsters!

I just finished making a few stocking stuffers for Baby B and little gifts for some of his little friends! If you crochet you still have time to whip a few up to hide in stockings for Christmas morning! (Baby B's friends, look away! :)

Little boys love little monsters, right?

And so do their little friends?

I sure hope so! I used the tutorial by Crafty is Cool to make a whole...herd?...flock?....of monsters. I started with a set for Baby B, using the nice monster-colored yarns I found at a yard sale this summer. (the red one was my prototype. Note to self: 8mm eyes are too big. go for the 6mm.)

They were pretty fast to put together, once I go the hang of it, so I made a few extras for Baby B's friends. (I made them different heights by doing more or less rows of stitches)

I gave them each a unique expression using plastic safety eyes, white felt, and black embroidery floss.

Here are the little guys watching me working and waiting to get their mouths....

Then they were stuffed with polyfil to be nice, squishy little friends.

Some of them even have feet! And I added a felt tooth here and there. Oh, and I put love in the stitches.

You could also add little hairbows to make girl monsters, but all of these monsters are for little boys so no hairbows here!

They will be a fun way to fill Baby B's stocking for Christmas. And they will make cute tiny gifts for his friends! And of course when they grow up being best friends they'll get together every weekend to play with the monsters because of the love in the stitches. Might as well dream big, right?

Here is the link to the tutorial again, if you want to make your own little monsters. And now for the star of the show....

"hey, where did my apple go?!"

"oh, here it is."

"I think it will fit if I open my mouth thiiiiiis wide."

hmmm...nice try, Baby B. You leave the cutest teeth marks in that apple!

"what's this white stuff?" - Baby B's first snow!

"I'm afraid I'm too fluffy...."

"These mittens won't stop me! I'll get  you yet, Santa!"


We're having a lot of fun celebrating with decorations, gifts, yummy food, and time with the family, but more importantly we're celebrating the wonderful gift that is the true reason for the season....

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  -Matthew 1:21

Remembering this season that we are blessed beyond words. Merry CHRISTmas to all!

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Tuesday, December 20

Wrapping Things Up

My presents are wrapped and under the tree! Here's how things went down this year....

After doing some pinterest research to make a wrapping plan (see the original post here), I gathered the supplies to get the job done. I picked up brown paper from Dollar Tree (it was with box tape and packaging supplies), saved up a few newspapers, made salt dough gift tags (see the tutorial here), and pulled out my stash of ribbons (I always pick some up in the after Christmas sales for the next year - red, green, and white are my staples.)

Then I got down to business. I wrapped each package in either brown paper or newspaper then tied it with a ribbon and attached a salt dough tag (I wrote the names on the back of the tags and tied them on with raffia).

If I had more than one gift for a person I would bundle them together, usually wrapping the larger gift in brown paper and the smaller gift in newspaper.

I like to put most of my gifts in boxes before I wrap them. It makes them look tidier and more substantial under the tree.

This is one of my favorite combos. I love the mix of the two papers with a green ribbon. And that little tiny  bow I had to make after I accidentally used a too short ribbon. Now I really like it. :)

And that was pretty much it. I kept it pretty simple and natural and I love how each gift turned out a little different. I also love how they all work together once I piled them under the tree.

I did mix things up a little and use this fun Rudolph paper to wrap any gifts for kids or white elephant games.

Now I really feel like my tree is done. And Baby B is having a grand time playing with the gifts. He hasn't got any open yet, but he likes to untie the bows and chew on the tags (yuck!)

Are your presents wrapped yet? Do you put them under the tree early or wait until Christmas Eve?