Christmas Ideas & Money-Saving Tips

December makes me crazy.  I can’t help it.  No amount of chanting while breathing slowly helps.

There is just so much to think about!  Gifts, food, budget, calendar compatibilities–I have lists for my lists and they’re still growing.  (We’re also catering a few Christmas parties here and there, so that adds to the chaos.) Don’t get me wrong, I do love Christmas, but I’m still working on finding a way to make it less stressful!

Thought I’d throw out a few things we’re doing/have done to try to keep a handle on the budget and make things a bit easier–a few gift ideas if you’re struggling, that sort of thing.

I posted this project a while back, and my daughter is making a few–they are so cute!  My thoughts with this gift is how perfect they are for church.


Food gift basket


For your coffee loving people, a few bags of gourmet coffee (TJ Maxx is a great place or if you have a great “Bent & Dent” Store like we do, you can get Starbucks beans for $3.99!), maybe a personalized coffee mug and a box of biscotti or wafer sticks, all tucked in a basket.

For a candy lover, why not a basket full? What about a popcorn/movie basket? Check Baskets on a Budget for inspiration.

Need an inexpensive gift bag?

Cut off the bottom part of a pair of blue jeans, turn inside out, and sew across the cut end.  Tie up with a ribbon and make your gift extra special!

Don’t forget the easy and yummy Oreo Truffles–these make great gifts, especially with some creative gift wrapping!  Crush a pack of Oreos, mix with 1 block cream cheese, form balls, freeze, dip in chocolate of your choice.

Homemade playdough:

1 cup flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 TBS cream of tartar
1 TBS oil
food coloring


  • Heat all ingredients in a saucepan, slow to medium heat. Stir continuously. Once dough is at the consistency you want, remove from heat. Cool before using. *high salt content so please keep playdough away from pets.

I may add several more thoughts as I remember them throughout the day. PLEASE share your frugal/easy ideas with us!


16 Responses to “Christmas Ideas & Money-Saving Tips”

  1. Laura says:

    Hey Kelly,
    We had the idea to make lamps for our family members–found three antique matching copper lampstands at thrift store for 50 cents apiece. Took of existing decorative parts and plan on rebuilding over the tubing and making a one of a kind lamp for a few dollars each–easy!! If they come out cute, I’ll take pictures and send em.

  2. Charity says:

    We are making bird houses/feeders out of 1/2 gallon milk cartons for some relatives. My children are enjoying painting and decorating them so much. We haven’t spent any money on these at all…just using things we have on hand. You can find lots of tutorials online for these. So cute!

    I am also making hot packs for a few people, using flannel I have on hand and they are filled with rice. So easy, and great to relieve an aching back. (Money Saving Mom has a tutorial posted for these on the DIY section of her site.)

    I am making felt play food for my children, for pennies, literally. I got this idea from reading an old post of Kelly’s where she linked to someone who had made this for their children. (I can’t remember now who it was or the blog name.) So easy, and again, lots of tutorials/patterns available online.

    I love using things I have on hand! It makes me feel all frugally 🙂

    • Lori says:

      My mom made all of us hot packs like you describe, but with feed corn. We all got 2: one for our torso in a cold bed and one for our feet. It was a wonderful present I’ve used for years!

  3. Renee says:

    all great idea, thanks for sharing!

  4. Terri says:

    Not a suggestion, but, our family is living in Germany for a year (now contemplating two) and we live in a small village about an hour from Munich in Bavaria. Everything is closed on Sunday. And I mean, EVERYTHING. Not even the grocery stores are open. When we first got here it was pretty annoying but we have been here for about 4 1/2 months now and I absolutely love it. It’s pitiful that as Christians we have to be forced to have a day of rest. Our Sundays are amazing. No running out for this or that. I think they might be on to something here.

  5. Kelly L says:

    Kelly, I am amazed at your industriousness. Catering too? My mom’s friend asked if I’d cater a Christmas party for her and my answer was an immediate “NO!”. I only have one child, so I do not know what my excuse was after I see you doing it! LOL

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Oh yeah, those Oreo truffles. You posted about them before, meant to make them, and then (thankfully for my waistline) forgot about them… until now! What are the odds that I can forget about them again?

  7. Amy says:

    I love making homemade playdough. I add a few drops of vanilla, mint or almond extract to make it smell good.

  8. Kim M says:

    Those are all great ideas!

    I just made 3 aprons from tea towels for my little nieces. They turned out so cute, and they were so easy to make. The good part is that I found the tea towels for a dollar apiece! The internet has a lot of different tutorials for these if anyone is interested.

  9. We make inexpensive ornaments for our homeschool co-op teachers at the end of the year. I get those empty clear glass ball ornaments at Hobby Lobby for about $6, for a pack of 12. We then go on Google images and find pictures that relate to the classes they took. We cut out enough to line the inside of the ornament. I use a little tape at the neck of the ball to secure the pictures in place. Now the teacher has a keepsake from teaching her class to put on the tree.

  10. Lindsey says:

    We had new family pictures done this fall so I framed them (with a frame I found in the attic)and in one of the slots I included a history of our family surname, which I researched online. This is my husband’s gift this year. Also, I found a really cute idea online that I will maybe save for father’s day or something…anyway, the idea is to have your children make the shape of each letter of your last name with their bodies (i.e. if your last name starts with “S”, they all lay on the ground, all bend their bodies to make one “S” shape) and Mom stands on a chair or ladder or something and takes their picture from above. Take a separate picture of each letter, and them frame them so they spell our your last name. Hope this makes sense!

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