Friday, October 16, 2009

A Handmade Holiday

I know, I know. It's only October and I'm going to talk about holiday shopping. But hey, if Kroger is allowed to have their Christmas decorations out already, I'm allowed to bring up the holidays. Especially because we do things a little different here at SGF - or at least we have for the last few years. And since I'm signed up for Crunchy Chicken's "Buy Hand for the Holiday" Challenge, it doesn't hurt to think ahead a little bit.

Now, we don't do a lot of gifts for the holidays themselves, but somehow in addition to Christmas in December, it seems half our family members were born in November and December, so we have umpteen birthdays to celebrate as well. But just because it's that time of year, doesn't mean you need to break the bank celebrating, right? Here are some great ideas for unique (and frugal) gifts this season:

DIY Gifts
  • Baked goods - I did oogles of cookies last year and they were a huge hit. But don't limit yourself there. Do you have a yeast bread or sweet bread recipe that everyone loves? Or perhaps fudge, homemade cocoa, or granola? I save up those plastic salad containers I get from restaurants and use them to give away cookies. Or how about empty jelly or peanut butter jars to give away granola or cocoa?
  • Canned goods - Homemade jams, pickles, and salsas tend to be a big hit with family and friends too. Not to mention, my family is just beside themselves when I give them something I canned ("YOU did this?"). Trust me, people are impressed and who can beat a gift that tastes great?
  • Crafts - I crochet. Not well, but I crochet. That's a couple of my handmade baby blankets in the photo as well as a scarf I did for my niece. If you have a talent, USE IT! And don't forget the local library should have a selection of books to help fuel your ideas.
Other Mindful Presents (that you don't have to make yourself)

Ok. So you don't want to make everything yourself, but there a ton of great (and frugal) options out there, so you don't have to be a superhero to have a simple-green-frugal holiday.
  • Farmers' Market - check out your local farmers' market. Ours has a a huge selection of gift options - anything from canned jams, salsas, honey, and baked goods to soaps, lotions, stained glass art, metalwork, jewelry, and pottery (the dolls and soap in the photos are from our market). And just think - you're supporting the local economy, your local farmer/artist, and giving a truly unique gift.
  • Etsy - I've only used Etsy a few times, but it's a great place to find handmade items from around the country. I've bought both cloth bags and bags for steeping tea from Organic Needle. I gave one of the tea bags to my mom who just loves it. You just never know what you'll find.

Last year was the first year we started making our own holiday cards. Seriously, most people set them out for a few short weeks and then they get tossed. What a waste! So I save up old cards, colored paper that finds it way to us in the form of junk mail, and anything else I can get my hands on (like old calendars) and make my own greeting and holiday cards. You don't have to get fancy and buy a bunch of supplies. I just save and recycle as much material as I can. Have fun with it. And if you have kids, let them join in the fun. For more on making your own cards, see posts here and here.

Seriously, "Buying Hand for the Holidays" is the way to go. Not only can it be a frugal option, but it's also an opportunity to support your local community, share quality time with the kids, and all while offering a wonderful gift to your loved ones. I know you're still trying to figure out what Jr. will be wearing for Halloween, but take it from me and Kroger (I still can't believe the Christmas decorations are up already), the holidays are just around the corner and with a little planning, a sharp eye, and a cookie sheet, you can make this year the best Simple-Green-Frugal holiday ever.

So, there must be a million other ideas out there for simple-green-frugal handmade gifts. What have you done in years past?
To join in on the "Buy Hand for the Holiday" Challenge, visit Crunchy Chicken's challenge post and leave your name in the comment section.


Chile said...

We do very little gift-giving for Christmas, but do prefer homemade for gifts. Sometimes we do donations to non-profits instead, but othertimes I just give gifts throughout the year. I don't like the idea of waiting until one particular day to give something to someone.

In fact, I just gave half a dozen people some of my Asian pear vinegar. I found cute little cruets in the thrift stores and bought corks for them at the local brewing store. Everyone was thrilled and most asked if they got to keep the container, too. (Of course!)

I may do this in another month or so, when I find appropriate containers, with my prickly pear liqueur.

Since I used to do collage, I occasionally pull out the few remaining supplies and make custom cards, too.

Beany said...

Like Chile we do very little gift giving (i.e. none). This year I want to try to be a bit different instead of being such a grump about the whole thing (I'm usually bitching about consumerism, about how X'mas is not about gift giving, etc, etc). I'm even thinking about decorating our place up because some of our friends really like Christmas.

I prefer giving people edibles as gifts. That way the waste and cost is quite minimal.

The other idea I had was to give people who are skeptical about the eat local/veg*n lifetyle this t-shirt. It says "Eat More Kale". Definitely a message we can get

I felt that this year flew by too fast. I'm still waiting for the summer and it is already chilly!

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - We don't do much either. I usually plan to give a basket to our parents and money to the nieces and nephews (we have 25 or so, I've lost count). Then just cards to everyone else. But when I saw those little dolls at the farmers' market, I wanted to buy them and support the vendors. They were just too cute :)

Your cards sound really cool! You should do a post on them and take some photos. I'll bet they're super creative!

Beany - I have to agree with the edibles as gifts (especially if I'm the one receiving it). I'd rather enjoy something and then it be gone than have to display something that has no function. Hopefully, the rest of my family feels the same... LOVE the t-shirt!

Chile said...

Can't take a photo of them because I gave them away! hehe

debra said...

Last year I made a delicious eggnog and this year I've made strawberry schnapps. The eggnog keeps for about 6 months so I wait until closer to the holidays to make it. For years now, my kids have made bundles of cookies for friends and neighbors.

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - Well, chop-chop! It's a new year for new cards :)

Debra - Very cool! I think everyone agrees, edible gifts are the BEST! And even cooler that the kids are involved!

timeus said...

Does this mean timeus' gift won't be coming from Wal-Mart this year???

Heather @ SGF said...

Timeus - How about I bring up some of Rudy's BBQ sauce. The sissy sauce, right? :)