Saving money of Gifts

 I have been thinking a lot about the subject of gift giving lately. I enjoy giving gifts and to be perfectly honest I enjoy getting them too. Many of my ideas about gift giving are changing however. I used to feel like all the gifts I gave should be brand new, either bought at the store or made generally using all new materials. I have changed my mind on that.

  There are several reasons my ideas are changing. I don't know where you are in this range of "what is right with gift giving" but I thought I would share some of what I have been thinking about on this subject.

  First- "Why do we give gifts?" Here are my thoughts:
  • To show someone we care about them. (often to help celebrate a special day of theirs.)
  • To help someone out- fulfil a need.
  • Another reason (but I think it is not a good reason!) could be to show off what you can afford to give or are able to make. I hope that I never give for this reason!
Did I miss something with that list? After thinking about the "why" it help me to realize that the first two reasons for giving are really not that hard to do. To show someone we care does not require the gift to be new, it just needs to be something that shows we were thinking about them, what they like and what fits them. To show someone we care a gift isn't even always necessary, a card (especially one that you have personally written a message in) can often do that just as well. To help someone out often doesn't require an expensive gift or a brand new gift either. Sometimes a need can cost a lot of money but when we thoughtfully think about each gift we give and not spend money needlessly when we don't need too then we will (at least it seems that way in our situation) be better equipped to be able to help with a need that does cost a lot.

  Another reason I have really started to rethink gift giving is when I look at our own household. I have been working at getting rid of things in our house because we simply have had too much stuff. I think this is a very common problem in our country. So in my realization that most people are probably a lot like me and really don't need a lot of new things and actually might be feeling overwhelmed with what they do have I started thinking things like this: "If I don't know specifically what a person might want or need why would I go out and spend money on something just so I can give a gift?" This has prompted me to try to be more observant of others.

    I do like to give gifts so I am trying to notice things that might really be useful to them or something they would really enjoy. If I can't really figure that out I have been working on giving more consumable type gifts. Food and such that are universally used and will not clutter up their home. Another option I have been using is to give something homemade. My idea with this is that it shows that I care and am thinking about them but these gifts are usually made using something I already have so the only cost is time. Since I am concerned about conservation this sort of gift doesn't add yet one more thing to our overcrowded country, I simply remake and use something that was already out there.

  Here are some of my ideas for economical gift giving. I would really love some feedback on these ideas! I am still struggling to always feel comfortable with all of them, some feel a little revolutionary to me but I think in so many ways they make sense. I hate the idea of wasting money or other resources but yet when giving gifts it can be a challenge to feel comfortable giving something that is used or simply out of the ordinary.

  • Shop at garage sales. Last summer in my little bit of yard saleing I was surprised at how many new or practically new things that I found. (This speaks to the over abundance of stuff we have in our country!) I started to especially look through the books that I found. Many had never had a name written in them and had no bends or tears. I picked up many of these for 25 cents each and have used them for gifts. I did also pick up some baby socks (10 pairs in a bag for 10 cents) and onesies (6 in a bag for 50 cents) that looked practically new and I brought them home and washed them. So far I used some of the socks to make a "flower" on top of a baby gift (below) and I used a onesie (along with fabric from a shirt that had been given to us) to make another baby gift.

  •  Make handmade gifts using recycled materials. Things I have done along this line are: Rugs (like above and they have been well received), bibs, hot pads, tote bags, skirts, doll clothes, doll furniture, doll houses, jewelry, toys, mittens, quilts..... The list could go on and on.
  • Give food or other consumable gifts.With this sort of gift we like to make our own. They are fun to make and you can make them look "pretty" and also making it yourself can cause it to be quite economical. Above is a soup mix we made and gave away and below is some candy. Other homemade food gifts that we have given and people have liked are: Homemade bread, Jam, Lefse, cookie mixes and cookies or bars. I have also received Homemade Vanilla and Seasoning salts both of which I really appreciated.

  • Shop sales and shop year round. I try to keep an eye out for gifts year round. So when Legos went on sale last fall I got some for the boys for Christmas and I also got sets for their birthdays this year (which aren't until August and October). I have a little file cabinet and a box and under my bed as well where I keep gifts that I have bought ahead. When it is something expensive I will have a particular person in mind for the gift but if it is a nice gift that is really inexpensive I will get it just so I am ready for impromptu parties or need a gift quickly. I am still trying to get better at finding gifts for Ken throughout the year!
  • Make gifts using supplies you already have. Above is a ski bag that I made for Ken for Valentines day. He had wanted one and we looked at one at the ski shop and it was $60. I figured I could make one instead. I was able to use stuff that I had on hand (mostly thanks to my Grandma having me go through and take stuff from her sewing stuff) and so the bag itself cost me nothing besides my time. (It did take more time than I had figured since I made it triple layered but that is okay.)    This year I have also had fun making baby sweaters from yarn that I already had on hand. If you have crafted very long I find it is pretty easy to build up a big supply of materials (but that just might be because when people find out that I like to make things many of them offer materials that they are no longer using and I gladly say "yes!") and when you use things you have on hand, gifts can be made very economically. You just need some time.
 This is by no means a complete list but this post is getting long and I have other stuff I should be doing so I will quit talking for now! :-) I would really, really love to hear what you all think about my thoughts on gift giving. Do you think used gifts are okay? What about re-gifting? (I do that too.) Do you like homemade gifts? Please share your thoughts......