A Very Cheap-O Christmas: Part 1

GIFT BASKETS!

Lets face it sometimes mass produced gift baskets can be chinsy, overdone and show little effort or forethought.  But a DIY gift basket can be just the opposite! When you make it yourself you have the ability to customize something that fits the recipient to a T and paints a picture of painstaking consideration and care.

When designing these baskets-o-love its very easy to go overboard (trust me I’m the queen of overboard) and spend way more money than originally budgeted. You walk down an isle full of pint sized goodies and very quickly fill your cart, all the while imagining this elaborate creation that will surely shock and amaze the person who you will bestow this gift upon. But I challenge you… ere on the side of minimal and thoughtful instead of elaborate and expensive because you do not need to spend a lot of money to let someone know that you care.

Case and point: I was invited to a very dear friends wedding a week and a half ago and knew that between a flight out to New Jersey as well as gas money, food money, and the like I just wasn’t going to have the funds to get her some big beautiful gift, or even an envelope full of money. She understands our “financial strapped-ness” and therefore I felt comfortable giving her one of my DIY creations. So I started brainstorming, and thinking, and considering. In my opinion the kitchen is a central hub of a family. It is where conversations happen, where the morning starts, and relationships are made. Yes, I was going to focus on things for her new kitchen!

My main objective was to make sure that I could stay under $10 without anything looking cheap or overly DIY. Ultimately I decided to make two mugs (a his/hers situation), a hanging towel (flippin’ love those things!), and a weekly menu planner. But Lordy! How was I going to stay under $10?? Dollar Tree/Hobby Lobby here I come!!!! (Insert maniacal laugh…)

Here was my shopping list
Dollar Tree:
2 Mugs- $2
1 8×10 picture frame- $1
Kitchen Towel- $1
Sweet basket- $1

Hobby Lobby:
Pretty Printed Paper- $0.50 $0.24 (IT WAS ON SALE!!!!)

Things I had at home:
Extra fabric laying around
Black and red Sharpie markers

That’s a total of $5.24! Now here’s what I did with it.

Gathered my materials (pay no attention to the extra fabric and kitchen towel… I’m making one for myself too)

Drew lips/mustache and Mrs/Mr on each mug respectively… like sooooo
 
 
 
Baked for 30 minutes on 350 degrees
 
 


 Then gather my supplies for the menu planner: Picture frame, pretty printed paper and your computer. In a word document write “Menu” at the top and then “Monday” through “Friday” down the side of the document. Please make sure that you print it on plain paper first so that you make sure that the placement is right and then you can print it on your pretty paper. Then you just pop it into your picture frame and your end result should look something like this:
 
Finally you are going to gather your materials for your hanging towel. If you know anything about sewing a sing straight line this should be pretty easy for you. You could even hand sew it. Either way there is a great tutorial and pattern to show you exactly what to do. I didn’t have a button so I decided to use a snap. You could do a sew on snap, I did a press on snap. Here is mine “pre-snap”:
 
Then you just neatly place it all in the basket and stick a card in there. (This is my quick placement… I later fixed it so that it was more organized but I just didn’t get a chance to take a picture of it.)
 
You will also want to include a dry-erase marker for the menu planner but that should NOT cost you more than $1 if you have any frugal skills what-so-ever.
 
Voila! This gift could be given to a newly married couple for their first Christmas, but really could go to ANYONE as long as you customize the paper what you write on the mugs. The possibilities are endless!
 
Stay tuned for more Cheap-O Christmas crafts and ideas!



A Very Cheap-o Christmas

There is a commonly expressed misconception that I hear all the time when people find out how many kids I have. It goes something like this, “How many kids do you have?” I answer, “I have 4.” They respond, “Whoa! You’re Christmas’ must be really really expensive!” I’ll briefly address my problem with this notion that our children need to get 81575642 gifts at Christmas and we need to break the bank to get the biggest and the best. What happened to quality instead of quantity? What happened to teaching appreciation instead of entitlement? What happened to the TRUE meaning of the season??? End rant, back to the topic at hand. In answer to the question: “is your Christmas really expensive?” I exclaim, “NAY!” (ok maybe I don’t yell “nay” in the middle of the check out line at Jewel but you know what I mean.)

So why is Christmas not that expensive for me when I have so many people to buy for (because lets face it, its not just the kids. Its grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles too)? The answer is simple: DIY. I have found that the best way to save money, and really the most heartfelt gifts are DIY gifts. So for the next several weeks until the week before Christmas I will be posting some of my crafty Christmas creations. 
Just a couple things to consider when you go to make your Christmas DIY list:
1. Consider the recipient- You can find the cutest, easiest, most inexpensive beer mug makeover tutorial, but if the person you are giving it to doesn’t drink beer it won’t mean diddly. 
2. Consider the budget- The worst mistake you can make is to set a budget and then not stick to it. Trust me, I know this is hard. I am the person who walks into the Dollar Store for 3 items and ends up spending $20! 
3. Remember… QUALITY not QUANTITY- Focus on only making a couple of crafts per person. The more you make, the more you end up rushing, and the less cute/crafty/legit the item will look. 
4. Some things are better left un-crafted- Please, PLEASE, I admonish you. No-one needs a hand crocheted bikini, a coaster set of pictures of your dead pet, or pe**s shaped soap.
I would absolutely love for you to share your DIY Christmas ideas! I’m always on the hunt for inspiration! Also, be on the look out for my first DIY Christmas project this year! I’m working on it now and its PREEEETTTTY fantastical!