A few years ago I was in up to my eyeballs in life. 3 kids, a gram to take care of, running back and forth between two households. And money was tight.
That was the year extreme couponing was all the rage and I was getting the hang of it. I had already been stacking deals and filling my shelves when money got real tight.
Winter was coming and with it – heating costs and Christmas.
We’ve always kept our heads at Christmas when it came to the kids. We keep it fun and exciting but we don’t go nuts. We did this from the beginning so the kids don’t know any different. The grandparents go crazy enough.
Once the kids’ gifts were taken care of. We still had the adults on our list to buy for. We know the frugal and practical thing to do is to eliminate them all from the list. Be upfront and say, hey Christmas is for the kids, don’t buy us anything, money is tight, whatever.
But we also know our families. We know they would say okay sure, and then still buy us something and it would be awkward.
So I started thinking. What if I put together gift bags or baskets using my stockpile? The idea is to spend the least, so use what you already have if possible.
Winter Blues Basket
This one worked well for families and couples. Score on lower cost per person.
These are the types of items I included: tissues, cough drops, lip balm, gum, snack foods, vitamin C, immunity boosters, Tylenol, tea bags, coffee, hot chocolate, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, candles, mouthwash
Home Essentials Basket
This one works well for single guys since they hate shopping or college students short on money.
In this bag, I used these ideas: laundry soap, body wash, tissues, gum, dish soap, hand soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, Tylenol, candle, coffee
My mother in law still raves about this one. Since she doesn’t spend money on herself it was a huge treat.
Items included: Lip balm, mascara, eyeliner, nail polish and remover, cotton balls, hand lotion, body wash, gum, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, hand sanitizer, candles, mouth wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair spray, face cleanser
Guys hate shopping and also some pretend they don’t like beauty products. Um, the tons of money spent on these products every year beg to differ.
Items included: body wash, deodorant, gum, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, hand sanitizer, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste
Emergency Car Bag
This one was a huge hit… This is for all the things you forgot on your way out the door or might need if you’re on the go a lot. Not for true emergencies like breakdowns or zombie apocalypse, but still awesome to have.
I brainstormed a list of ideas and then created the funny poem to go along with it. I typed it on the computer and printed it onto card stock and attached it with a ribbon to the zipper.
I only needed three and happened to have some makeup bags that had never been used. If you buy department store beauty products you have tons of these since nearly every kit comes with a bag.
In order here are the items that match the poem:
Stretchy gloves (could substitute charcoal activated hand warmers), hand sanitizer, a few pre-wrapped pantiliners, gum or mints, tissues, lip balm, deodorant, mini notepad, pen, cough drops, tampons, snack bar, floss
Here’s the poem:
Still, I was stuck for my mom and her husband. Back then, no matter how many times we would try and make them understand that it was all too much they still went crazy for Christmas. My mom was a QVC-aholic.
When you go to her house all the TVs are tuned into QVC. When you change the channel, you can still see the 1-800 number on the screen. Burned into the screen. It’s also on the computer.
In her defense, she can afford it, and she does get nice stuff at good prices.
But there have been years that we have returned from their home and couldn’t see out the windows of the car to get there. And times we have had to go back for the gifts or leave some there.
Since they run and buy everything they want I was stuck.
Finally, I put together a bunch of things the kids like to eat or do at my mom’s like a giant pack of copy paper.
I considered putting in a 5-pound bag of sugar with a spoon attached, but I thought that might be taking it a bit far.
We took this picture of the kids
Quite fitting and her husband LOVED it.
Though my mom wondered why they didn’t get a poem. Oopsie. *Sigh…