Frugal Christmas Gifts for 2009

I know, the last thing you want to think about is Christmas, but I can’t resist posting this great list of DIY Christmas Gifts. Many of these ideas cost next to nothing. And unlike a lot of thrifty gift ideas–I’m looking at you Oprah–these are presents people might actually enjoy receiving. Keep them in mind for next year–or for other gift-giving occasions.
A few I liked:

It’s difficult to go wrong with themed gift baskets. Did you can your own pasta sauce over the summer? Use a colander for a basket, add some garlic bulbs, gourmet noodles, and a wooden spoon — a little taste of Italy. Or consider a breakfast basket. Or a breakfast basket (syrup and pancake mix), a movie basket (popcorn, candy, and a movie rental coupon), or a gardening basket (a trowel, a gardening hat, and some packets of seeds).

(A Savvy note–I have done this before, and it can get quite pricey. The key is to get all the components of the gift for super cheap: the colander from the thrift store, the spices from your garden, etc.)

In the GRS discussion forums, Brad suggested giving the gift of time or skill. Brad has given music lessons. He has colleagues who have given bike tune-ups and wine advice. What skills do you have? Can you help somebody set up a blog? Plant a garden? Learn to change the oil in their car?
You might create a spice sampler. Bulk spices can make an affordable and appreciated gift for anyone who loves to cook, or who is moving into a new kitchen. Don’t know which ones to choose? Find some tempting recipes that call for exotic spices, then include the recipes with the spices. Or, get creative and make a custom spice blend for a meat rub, marinade mix, salad dressing kit, dip, or seasoning (search the web for ideas).
One winter, my wife made felt-backed tile trivets. You can find lots of beautiful tile designs at the home-improvement store. Sometimes the end of a lot can be had at a deep discount. Using a hot-glue gun, add a layer of felt to the back of a 6×6″ (or larger) tile, and you have a useful trivet for bringing a hot dish to the table.
“For my cash hungry nephews and niece I make sure to do something creative to get the money. This year is going to be a family trivia game with questions that make them talk to other family members. It is much more interesting than a $20 bill.” Of course, it’s also possible to do this without the monetary reward.
Genevieve makes her own stationery sets to give to friends. She writes: “I make envelopes out of pretty magazine ads and then pair them with nice stationary paper that you can get cheaply by the pound from any stationary or craft store. It is a great way to recycle magazines and the resulting stationary sets have been a real hit with my friends. If the gift calls for a little extra just pair a set with an address book or a nice pen.”
Ayelet has a gift idea that’s after my own heart: “I’m really excited about my holiday gift to my fiance (will be married by the holidays)this year. We love to cook together so I’m going to sit down with him and create our first family cookbook. It’ll be something we can update as we add more recipes. This would be a good one for a big family…get everyone together for a recipe day (could be some cooking involved) and then print and bind the recipes somehow for all to have. Good for a HS senior or college student, too.”

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