Christmas. In June.
For all other adults/couples, this year's theme was decided back in January, when a local dollar store had plastic colanders 2 for $1. This year's theme will be...
An Italian Meal.
Before you give up on me completely, let me explain further. A few days ago, I was in Wal-Mart and found a bolt of red-checked fabric on the $1 a yard table. I bought 2 yards. I'll cut this down to make napkin sets - monogramming them with white thread. For my kids' contribution, I'll be having them make napkin rings. Not sure what kind yet, but I'll research it to find some cute ideas. I'm sorta picturing something made with fake grape-vines at the moment.
The napkins and rings will go into the colanders. We'll also include a box of dry pasta and a bag of HOMEMADE SPAGHETTI SEASONING MIX - minus the freeze-dried green pepper, which? I've never seen in any supermarket I've been in and I imagine it would cost way too much anyway. I'll include a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce, to mix with the seasoning. I will also include a batch of CRANBERRY-ORANGE BISCOTTI. I'll be adding some Italian recipes printed from on-line, too, and finally, I'll be adding inexpensive plastic pasta scoops (less than $1 at Walmart) and crocheted hotpads - made from green yarn I actually have left-over from last year's scarf gifts!
Final cost - depending on ingredients prices, should be around $30 - $35 for everything.
So what's with the Christmas talk in the middle of the year? My point is, in order to not go crazy or broke sometime mid-December, you should already be planning your gifts now. For one, it will give you plenty of time to make things, if you need. And two - you should be keeping your eyes open every time you set foot in a store. You never know what you might find that will spark your imagination and can then become a fabulous gift.
The best part about this kind of planning is it really frees you up during the holiday season, to enjoy time with your family. I'll be making the biscotti in late October or early November and freezing it - just as soon as the cranberries go on sale for Thanksgiving. We'll have everything else done by then, so rather than face the angry hordes of frazzled shoppers who hit the stores on "Black Friday", our holiday season will be filled with peaceful nights at home and visits with friends and family.
Also? With this method, you're spreading out your costs by purchasing things over the course of the year - not all at once at the end of it. It's easier to shave $5 out of your budget here and there than it is to try and take one large hit at once.
Over the next few months, I'll post more about gifts I've given in the past, to hopefully give you some ideas you might use. Remember, anyone can go buy some ornate pewter picture frame, or an over-priced kitchen appliance that will never get used, or a $17 scented candle that will most likely give the recipient a wretched headache if she lights it, but you can show your friends and family how much you love them by dedicating your time and creativity to a gift truly from your hands and your heart, not just your pocketbook.
Labels: gift giving chatter