My biggest beef with Christmas is the gifts. Don't get me wrong, I'm as selfish as the next person- I love getting presents but I think a lot of the time the gifts are given for the wrong reason or because the giver feels obligated to give a gift. I dislike getting those gifts. I enjoy unwrapping my gifts on Christmas morning and frolicking around in the ribbons and ripped paper while eating a Terry's Chocolate Orange and listening to Boney M. Christmas- that is true...but I don't like faking a smile and telling someone I like the gift when I honestly do not.

When I told my husband that I was going to be writing this post today he got defensive (yey! Christmas has someone on their side). He said that it doesn't matter what the gift is and that the point is the action of giving not about what is given. I agree, and I also disagree. I agree because yes, Christmas is about giving and sharing and coming together and being happy and joyous and all that jazz. But I disagree because if someone is going to go out and spend money on me, I would rather it be for something useful that I would actually use and enjoy rather then something they think looks nice, something that will be put away in a box labelled "small trinkets" and put in a closet never to be seen or heard of again....

Part of living frugally is to only buy things that are necessary. Things like groceries, rent/mortgage, bills, gas/insurance etc. Another part of living frugally is to buy things that you want, but in moderation...so it is ok to buy DVDs and cakes, but not on a weekly basis and not when you can't afford to cover your necessities...kwim? It's all about finding this healthy balance where you can get the things you need and a few things you want...and still have money left over. BUDGETING is also key in living frugally- I believe I have mentioned this before....it's KEY people!

Christmas comes and all that hits the fan. People tell me they live frugally all the time. I ask them what they do at Christmas, and they tell me that they are buying for 10 people. When I ask WHAT they are buying these people they spew off a list of random items that I know I would not use and that I can say *safely* that half the people on their list would/will not use either. I ask what they are going to spend on these people and numbers scare me. To be frugal at Christmas is to give gifts that you know the people will use and enjoy and not break your bank while trying to do so. The only obvious choice for gifts is consumables! Everybody loves consumables and you can either 1. make said consumables or 2. buy them without breaking the bank. Stop giving gifts that will be put on a shelf and forgotten and start giving gifts that people will use and enjoy, gifts that will make them think of you when they look at the 20lb cheese wheel you got them...in the middle of May...5 months after Christmas. You can never go wrong with consumables.

Ok- and now before you rip my head off I would like to say that spoiling your favourite people is great! Giving your kids special gifts is ok- kids LOVE presents and giving them a bottle of Port or a Box of Chocolate's isn't the best idea (because they will not appreciate it and neither will the parents) but give them useful gifts. Books, learning games and crayons are all great options to the loud, battery operated plastic toys that are frequently given. And for spouses...how about combining a gift that you can both use, and just doing stockings for each other. My sister-in-law and her husband are doing that this year and my husband and I are as well. They are going away for a weekend in Banff and we are buying a new TV. Big items, that are useful and things that we can enjoy. I would also like to mention that I know a TV is not a consumable...but it will be enjoyed on a daily basis for years to come...

Want some ideas on creative, cheap and consumable (some not consumable) gifts?? I thought so...
-homemade jellies and jams
-Cookies or Soup in a jar (if you are interested in this, let me know and I will do a recipe post)
-a basket of Christmas baking
-a box of homemade chocolates
-flavoured Olive Oil and Salts
-homemade (knit) wash cloths
-scented Epsom salts and homemade soap
-a container of Caramel Corn and a GC for a DVD
-homemade breads (banana, lemon, whole wheat)
-coupons for good deeds (ie: doing dishes, cleaning the house, doing a load of laundry)
-a dinner baskets (with all the items the receiver will need to make one meal- minus the meat and fresh produce...)
-a homemade recipe book with all your favourites

Ok- those are just a few that I could think of off the top of my head. Feel free to comment below if you have more ideas that you would like to share. :) If they are good, I might even post them on my blog.

What I didn't want to do in this post was say that Christmas and gift giving is bad or wrong. I wanted to share ways to make it better (for both parties) and more useful. I wanted to give you ways to stretch the money that you do that so that you can give to more people. See- I was just teaching you how to give more...with less...smart eh!

Now, for the poll results- out of 21 voters... *I forgot to vote...LOL*
I am happy to announce that no one is selfish...
10 people (47%) will be buying for 5-10 people
8 people (38%) will be buying for 10-15 people
2 people (9%) will be buying for 15-20 people
1 person (4%) will be buying for 20 or more people

If you are interested in my vote, we fall into the 5-10 category. Our budget for Christmas this year, for everyone but ourselves is $150 (we can't get a TV for $150). That means we are spending an estimated $15 per person. Can she do it? Yes she can! Some people will get a little more and others a little less...but that is how it goes. Almost all of the gifts are handmade by me or someone else, and all of them are useful. I'm not going to say what people are getting because, hello, this is a public blog and I live for the element of surprise that is Christmas morning...so you'll just have to trust me when I say it.

Happy December!
Frugally Yours,
Erin B.

PS: Check out the new poll!!


  1. Hey lady! Would you happen to have a recipe for scented Epsom salts and homemade soap? I would love to make this for a couple girlfriends! and any homemade chocolate recipes?! let me know :) See you in class tonight!

  2. Homemade Ideas:
    Chocolate Dipped pretzels
    Nuts and Bolts
    Scrap booked mini albums
    personalized calendars

  3. Sara- this website is great!

    Tricia- I love those ideas. I'm actually going to do the chocolate dipped pretzles for some people this year!

  4. Ok Erin you said I can comment, so here I go. You can live frugally and still buy presents that you think the person will like. If you just buy something to buy them something, then yes that is a waste. But if you go out knowing the person & buy with them and their tastes in mind I don't think it's a wasted gift. I, as a general rule, do not like consumable gfits. This is because I don't know what the person's hygene when it comes to mass producing food gifts are and, well you know I'm a bit neurotic. You are an exception, because I know you are as neurotic as I. I also budget Christmas all year round. I have a section in my budget called gifts and put money into it each month. This covers birthdays as well. Yes I put more in at Christmas, but I start in September and as my budgets are done 6 months in advanced I can easily tweek them as surprise expenses come up and still have enough money at Christmas.

  5. Brenda- you are like me. We budget year round for Christmas and Birthdays- which is the only way I can justify being able to buy a TV this year...because we've been saving for it...all year...

    As per the consumables...I agree with what you are saying but disagree as well. I wouldn't recommend accepting cookies from a homeless man on the street as a Christmas gift...however, if the consumables are coming from someone you trust (ie: me) then I see no reason in not liking the gift, especially when you consider the time and effort the giver put into making the consumable gift. On that same note, generally the only people who will be giving you consumable gifts are those who you trust and know your tastes- kwim?? Are you planning on giving any consumables this year?? LOL- I know you are...so...

    Now as per your first comment re: being frugal and still giving gifts you know the person will like, I completely agree. However, you don't have to be breaking the bank for every single person you know. It's not practical, and while it may be nice to spoil everyone on your list, it's not necessary. Some people (like myself) would be just as happy getting a box of chocolates or a family picture...you know??

    My intent was not to tell people to stopping spending money on gifts, rather it was to show them another way and to have them question the ways they currently spend their money. We each have our ways of doing Christmas and I was merely sharing mine. And FYI- you are getting consumables from me this year... :)

  6. Erin. I hope I am getting something yummy from you for Christmas. I love your consumables. I will consume anything you want to make for me.....yummy!

    I feel bad. It wasn't my intention to sound like I was dissing your blog. I like you ideas. I just lack the ability to write my thoughts correctly. Hence why I do not blog & should stay away from blogs. ;)

  7. Don't feel bad. I know you weren't dissing my blog.
    You are getting something VERY VERY yummy from me. So yummy in fact that I might have to make another batch because I might have eaten the one that was supposed to go to you- YES a whole batch...! *shame*
    Don't stay away- comment all you like! I rarely get offended...we are both just so opinionated... :)