Christmas Gifts on a Budget

Most of us have a lot of gifts to buy for many family members, friends and other people that we would like to acknowledge at this time of year. I actually quite enjoy buying and selecting gifts for people, but there’s no denying that it can get pretty costly.

So it’s worth considering how to reduce the costs a little. I tend to keep an eye out for suitable gifts year-round (one of my strategies to reduce stress in the festive season). Sometimes if I’m extra lucky, they might be in the sales, too. Even if not, it at least helps to spread the cost out.

Another way to save money on gifts is to make things yourself. Home-made gifts can also be more personal and appreciated than shop-bought items. As a teacher, I was frequently touched by how much effort the kids would put into making me personalised presents. Over the years, I have received all sorts from home-made lavender bags, notebooks with my name stencilled on, knitted and embroidered items, all sorts of baked goods and more.

Everyone has different skill sets and will be limited by those. For instance, Im utterly unteachable at knitting. Yes, I really am. I even tagged along to a knitting club for seven and eight year-olds with the hope of learning alongside them. They all picked it up while I was left clueless. So knitted gifts will always be off the cards.

However, I have made biscuits and confectionery as gifts. Shortbread is incredibly easy and is a typically seasonal food for Christmas. In terms of sweets: coconut ice, peppermint creams and chocolate truffles are all straightforward to make and taste delicious. It’s easy to bulk-buy suitable sized gift or presentation boxes on Ebay to make them look as good as they taste.

Today in a supermarket there were many potted plants that had been reduced in price. In particular there were a number of cyclamen flowers in shades of pinks and purples in cute galvanised mini buckets. It was easy to see why they were discounted, as several of the flowers in each one had died and they didn’t seem to have been kept well watered. We keep cyclamens in our garden in pots during the winter so I feel fairly confident about looking after them. In particular, they need to be deadheaded regularly, given sunlight and watered sufficiently. So I picked up and bought four of these plants, priced at only £2.50 each.

The first one I set aside as a birthday gift for a relative next week. After removing the browned, dead flowers and a few crunchy leaves, its appearance was much improved. Then, I pulled out a pale pink ribbon from our gift cupboard (I always save nice ribbons that have been used in packaging I have received as they often come in useful when I gift-wrap things myself) and tied it in a simple bow around the top of the silver coloured bucket. It looks pretty nice, don’t you think?

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The remaining few plants were also given the deadheading and watering treatment and have been placed in a sunny window. They looked ten times better just for having had that. When I gift then next week I am hopeful that they will look perfect.

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My daughter is very arty and creative so she was keen to make something for her grandmothers for Christmas. I purchased some small terracotta pots and we pained them plain white in acrylic paint. Once dry, my five-year-old used a combination of finger painting (for the petals and flower centres) and brush painting to create a sweet flower print pattern on the pots. We will just add a little plant and voila, all finished. I’m sure they will be well-received.

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Do you make any of your own gifts? I would love to hear about what you create yourself. Or perhaps you have other tips or suggestions on how to keep costs down when buying Christmas gifts?

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