Christmas Planning

I never think it is too early to start planning for Christmas!

As you can see from our food budget we are pretty strict on what we can spend on food, much less on other things.  I try to work on Christmas throughout the year, but definitely start sometime in the summer.  I often try to make things that I know family and friends would enjoy and appreciate it.

We don’t really have a money budget for gifts, so I try and save money from other budgeted areas.  I know, isn’t necessarily the smartest way to do things, but we really don’t have the income to a lot money to it.  I can usually save up enough and I also will re-purpose LOTS of things to make something new!

I have four siblings (3 are married and some with kids) 2 complete sets of grandparents, my husbands 4 siblings and their spouses (and some with kids) his mom and some friends!  The list tends to get quite long.

I have organized a Christmas list that I used to plan out gifts, how much I estimate they cost, when they are purchased, how much is spent and then marked off when the person is completed.  I’ve used the same list for years!  I often keep in on my computer and update it frequently, but in the past I typed in the ideas for gifts, but then printed it for when I went shopping.

I’ve provided a link here, to the list so that maybe it will help you stay organized and better plan for your holiday!  I’ve also found that when I start so early in the year I often forget what I’ve found for different people if I don’t write it down and then end up getting too much for one person and not a thing for another… so this list has been a money saver too!

Christmas List

A few notes to make about it.  The dollar amount in parenthese next to each name is the amount that I try to spend on that person.  In the “Ideas” box I write things I think they would like and the cost I estimate to purchase it or it’s worth if I’m making it.  Once I’ve either purchased or made the gift I move the item from the “ideas” box to the “purchased” box.  I then highlight the name to know that I’ve completed that person on my list.

I can’t post what I’m making this year for friends and family because of obvious reasons… they are probably reading this post and hoping for some clues as to what they are getting!

Below I’ve made a list with a few photos of some of the gifts I made last year.  Some of them I didn’t take a photo, so I’ve had to find photos that are similar.  If I used a website that had a tutorial I’ve linked to it.  If there isn’t anything listed then I came up with my own pattern.

Book flowers
Cut out the petals from any type of book (I used piano music for my Mom since she is a piano teacher), tie them together with floral twine and attach to a stick from the yard!  I also used water color and painted some of the pages to made different color flower as well!  I often employed my kids to do the painting!  It was a family gift!

Fire Hose Belts

My brother in law is a volunteer fireman and I saw these somewhere and thought that would be such a perfect gift for him.  I also made one for my brother as well.  Unfortunately I didn’t make them long enough.  I did take them back to fix them…. however, my wonderful neighbor helped me work on them and let me use her grommet press.  They are now moving, so I don’t have her to help me fix them… hmmm… not sure what is going to happen with them… sorry guys!

Curried Mixed Nuts with Kaffir Lime and Cayenne 

I made these nuts for the men in the family as well.  They were sweet and spicy and once they were opened they were devoured!  I think my brother opened his… and I’m sure he regretted sharing them!

Sand Paper Yarn Frame

I saw this on a blog and thought this would be great for my young nieces and nephews.  I purchased photo frames from the thrift store, sanded them, spray painted them and then framed the sand paper.  I then found yard and felt on freecycle and cut them up into fun shapes.  The yarn and felt sticks to the coarse sandpaper so the frame can be redecorated over and over.  I also put l on them so that the artwork could be displayed on the fridge!

Family Chronology

This gift I made specifically for my father.  It was modeled after the game [amazon_link id=”B00000IRQ8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Chronology[/amazon_link] which is basically a game using dates from history and trying to get them in the correct chronological order.  My dad has always said that he thought a version specific to the history of our family would be fun.  I spent HOURS putting these cards together, but it is a HUGE hit with the family and a great “test” for the brother-in-laws!

Instruction Guide for Babies

This gift I made specifically for my sister and brother-in-law who had their first baby early last year.  My sister had TONS of questions for me throughout her pregnancy and we both think a lot alike about raising kids.  I knew if she had that many questions about pregnancy, there would be 1000s more once he arrived!  So I wrote a book (40+pages) including information about breastfeeding (with resources), newborn habits, colic, cough and colds, constipation, and TONS more!  I think they really enjoyed it!

I also made some dried apples in the dehydrator and a few other items. It’s a lot of fun to make gifts and they mean so much more!  If you have time and this post came soon enough, maybe you can use some of these ideas as well!

Please let me know if you have other ideas or things you’ve done for family and friends as gifts!  I’d love to hear!


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