Writer: Dr. Mariah Smith Morgan, MSU Extension Service
The holidays can be a very trying time, especially if the number of people on your “nice” list exceeds the amount of money in your wallet. All you need to do is mix in a little creativity, a dash of the Internet and a pinch of old-fashioned elbow grease to have yourself a collection of creative, inexpensive gifts.
For example, friends of mine recently had a baby. Instead of spending money on more toys for them to trip over in the night, I might consider making them a coupon book for babysitting, meals and housecleaning. Take a look at the customizable coupon books you can print yourself from the American Greetings company at http://tinyurl.com/homemadecoupons.
For those on my list, if you don’t hold the rank of mom, dad, brother, mawmaw or favorite cat, you are getting homemade brown sugar body scrub for Christmas. I’m even giving it to the boys; they can eat it with a spoon for all I care. There is a great recipe on the Domino’s sugar website at http://tinyurl.com/brownsugarbodyscrub.
Other recipes can be found at http://tinyurl.com/bodyscrubrecipes, including a coffee body scrub recipe for the coffee lover in your life. Use recycled baby food jars to make the mixture go further and tie it off with a nice ribbon for presentation.
It’s hard to go wrong with handprint ornaments for parents or grandparents. I know a group of 3-year-olds who have been working very hard on this Santa handprint ornament at http://tinyurl.com/handprintsanta, as well as this snowmen ornament at http://tinyurl.com/handprintsnowmen. If handprint crafts are not your thing, check out these instructions on making your own LED ornament at http://tinyurl.com/LEDornament.
For the aspiring gardener in your life, consider this simple gift that repurposes old terra cotta planters and chalkboard paint: http://tinyurl.com/chalkboardplanters. According to the folks up at the New Hampshire Extension Service, they found that they could repurpose a 5-gallon bucket.
“Avid gardeners will enjoy a 5-gallon bucket turned into a multipurpose harvester and holder for gardening supplies. Fashion different sized pouches for hand tools, and pockets for seeds and small items. A painter’s apron, old blue jeans or other heavy fabric make good pouches. Tie your gardener’s tool belt to the outside of a bucket. This bucket of tools can then be carried from one spot to another and can also be used to collect weeds or your harvest,” according to the New Hampshire Extension Service website.
This idea really intrigued me. Having nearly met my Maker on numerous occasions due to 5-gallon buckets, I’m always leery of them. My dad has never met a 5-gallon bucket he didn’t love. If a bucket is lying on the side of the road, traffic should obviously stop for us to get out and get it. Medians are merely a suggested barrier when it comes to these handy 5-gallon treasures.
If you share my father’s passion for the 5-gallon bucket, you can see a step-by-step guide to repurposing it at http://tinyurl.com/5gallonbucket. Just between us, you can get buckets in the bakery section at your local grocery store for free. It’s what cake icing comes in. Don’t ask me how I know this information.
This Christmas, use your imagination and the Internet to save money and avoid being called a Grinch.