I'm always on the lookout for inspiration on how to save money and still give generously. I was inspired by a post at Personal Capital.com about Alternative Gift Giving to share what we have done. Personal Capital.com offers free financial Software to help you budget and reach your financial goals. Here is a link to their free software financial software Alternative giving includes homemade gifts, cookie and gift exchanges, giving to charities in the recipients name or planning an experience with friends and family. I loved all these ideas since that is what we, as a family, have done for either done years now and/or started a new tradition this year it really has taken a lot of pressure off us financially and reduced the stress of having to hit the malls to "find the perfect and expensive gift". Here are a few things that we have done...
This year, when the family gathered for Thanksgiving, we each donated some money and picked out several gifts from Heifer International to send to needy families and communitities. Here is a description from their website about how this program works:
Each year our extended family gathers for Christmas and we do a White Elephant Gift exchange after a big potluck brunch. The gifts are limited to $10 and under and can be homemade and/or thrift store or garage sale purchases. We all know that this is a yearly thing, so we keep our eyes open for the perfect man's or woman's gift. Those gifts have run the gamut from homemade goodies to a mosaic fish statue! There is lots of laughter and stealing of gifts and it has become one of the highlights of the season for us.
|Gift Basket with homemade goodies|
Our family loves to give homemade gifts and they are very well received. In fact, in years when I have not made certain things, like Cranberry Orange Bread, I have heard about it. ;) This year I baked 10 mini loaves each of Banana Bread and Cranberry Orange Bread. I also filled pint sized canning jars with homemade Texas Roadhouse Butter. If you have not ever tried it, you really need to! Spread on toast, it makes you think you are eating a cinnamon roll! Three different kinds of candy were easily made using Almond Bark that you melt and then either stir in or top with crushed peppermint candies, craisins, nuts, raisins or whatever else sounds good to you. Spread it on pretty thinly on a wax paper lined cookie sheet, let harden and then break into bite sized chunks. This year I did both white and milk chocolate peppermint bark and a white chocolate and craisin candy. New for me this year was making homemade "crackers" which are just empty toilet paper tubes that you stuff with candy, fun sayings and/or little trinkets. You just wrap them in shiny paper and tie them off with ribbons. The gift basket pictured above is for our Heather's parents. It has homemade Cranberry Bread, Texas Roadhouse Butter, Peppermint Bark, White Chocolate Craisin Candy, the "Crackers" and a fun ornament. All of this was put in a basket that I found at the thrift store for .94. Frugal, fun and yummy!
Most of the things that I made can be done within 1-2 hours. The Texas Roadhouse Butter took me 5 minutes to whip up. Brenda at Coffee Tea Books and Me shared this recipe on her site and it is now a favorite here too. I'm sharing in case you need a last minute gift or just want to treat yourself to something heavenly. This is great on toast, rolls, acorn squash, yams and sweet potatoes.
Texas Roadhouse Butter
2 sticks butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Whip together with your mixer. Makes 2 pint jars.
I hope this gives you some ideas for those last minute Christmas gifts that we all seem to need. May your Christmas be a very blessed one filled with love, laughter, friends, and family!