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Dec 15 2011

Inspiration for Fun, Frugal Gifts from the Heart

(From the Learning to Live a Surrendered Life archives before it became Unwrapping His Grace.)

I realize that I was going to focus on devotional and inspirational posts in the month of December.  Today’s post is more inspirational in a different sense.  I thought I would take a few moments to share some of the very “frugal/budget friendly gifts from the heart” that we will be blessing our family with this Christmas.

At the beginning of November, we were faced with the fact that we would be on a very, very tight budget for Christmas for our family this year.  How to come up with creative, fun gifts that would make everyone feel special was very overwhelming to me at first.  I am grateful for my husband, Will, who really helped me to get excited about embracing our tight budget as a challenge to meet and not something to worry about.  He shared some of his ideas with me and that got my creative juices going!  Together we came up a few creative, fun, yet very frugal gifts from the heart for everyone in our family.

It wasn’t until after we had gotten excited about creating Christmas gifts from the heart we were blessed with an unexpected Christmas present that Will and I received early that enabled us to purchase a couple of “store-bought” gifts for each of us this year.  What’s so special to me, is that my favorite gifts that we are giving are actually our created gifts!  I praise God for my new attitude!  I love it when God transforms my attitude and then showers an unexpected blessing!

We have decided to do everything possible to find creative ways to “create” gifts in our family this year.  This includes frugal finds, homemade, experience gifts, gift coupons, in addition to limiting our purchased “store-bought” gifts for each person in our immediate family to $25 or less for each person.

Will and I put our head together and actually came up with some fun, creative gift ideas for each person!  I realize that Christmas is just a little over a week away…but through “conversations” with many of you in the “Learning to Live a Surrendered Life” Facebook Community, I know that some of you are still trying to finish up making or selecting gifts for folks in your families!

I hope this inspires you to get a little creative…feel free to “steal” my ideas!  LOL  It is my hope that I can help inspire some last-minute fun, creative, and budget friendly ideas for Christmas or other special occasions throughout the year!  I only have pictures for some of them because, I must confess, I am still finishing up our gifts as well!  LOL

So here goes…I hope you find some extra inspiration through my experience…

Here is one of our eight year old son, Josh’s, Christmas presents!  Josh loves to make things out of “recycled” items we save.  I found a wonderful book “Family Fun Eco-Crafts: 60 Creative activities inspired by nature and recyclable” edited by Deanna Cook and experts from Family Fun Magazine at our favorite used bookstore in the nearby town for just $2.00!!!  When I saw it in the bookstore in August of this year, I knew immediately that it would make a perfect gift for him!  I am pairing it with a big box filled with empty toilet paper rolls, empty paper towel rolls, empty oatmeal boxes, cracker boxes, shoe boxes, coffee cans, etc.  I will also include some construction paper and markers and adhesive so that he can start creating right away!  This gift only cost us $4.00 out of pocket for all of the supplies for this gift!!!

Will came up with a great idea for a “recycled/homemade” gift for Josh that will have him bouncing with excitement!  Will found his old portable CD Player and thought it would be a perfect way to start teaching him to take care of electronics and CDs.  So we are cleaning up the CD player and pairing it with a new headset (on sale for $6.00 at Wal-Mart).  Will is going to burn some of the free downloads from “Adventures in Odyssey” onto CDs for him to listen.  He will also born copies of some of the children’s worship music CDs that we own so that he can enjoy listening to his favorite CDs during quiet time each afternoon.  This is his very first electronic music type of gift.  He will be SO surprised!  And again…we already have the blank CDs and CD Player so the total cost is $6.00 for the headphones!!!

For Michael, our three-year old, Josh and I are making him a personalized hand-made “Memory/Matching Game”.   It is a personalized matching game using index cards with pictures of our family members, his favorite things, paint chips, shapes, and stickers.  We have lots of index cards on hand and we will print the pictures off of my computer albums, use stickers we have in my school files, and paint chips in my craft supplies.  So this one is FREE!

Annie, our sixteen year old daughter, will be helping me make Michael a special, handmade bean bag toss game while she is visiting this weekend.  This too is FREE!  We will use fabric and sewing supplies from my sewing stash!  We will fill the bean bags with beans from our pantry!  We will use craft supplies and boxes to make a “target” to which he can aim to hit!

Another gift I am really excited about has two versions!!!

The first is for Josh.  Will actually came up with it!  (I love working as a team!)  It is a “Christmas all year-long” Coupon Book!  It will be filled with “gift certificates” for things like…”Mom or Dad will do your chores today” certificates, “You pick the DVD we watch during Family Movie Night” Certificates, “A Mommy/Son or Daddy/Son Date to McDonald’s for a snack and play time in the Playland” Certificate, “Play a board game with Mom or Dad” Certificates, etc.

The second coupon book is for Annie.  We are making a teenage version for her!  Her’s will be filled with monthly gift certificates for $10 in gas money (she bought a car in October always appreciates help with gas money!)-one $10 gift certificate for each of the 12 months!  We can’t spend that much all at once but are blessed to be able to send her $10 in cash in a fun greeting card once a month to help with gas.  This is a special gift for her because she now, often, drives her car to our house for her visits so it is our way of helping with that gas cost.  She will also receive gift certificates for $5 in store credit to spend at our favorite used bookstore (we trade in books for store credit which we used to buy books).  She will also receive gift certificates for Dad/Daughter Coffee Out Dates and Mary/Daughter Soda and Window Shopping Dates.  You get the idea!  Although this one does cost a little more…it is spread out in bite size cost throughout the year…so it is budget friendly for us!

We have purchased two inexpensive “store-bought” gifts for each of our children as well.  We asked each of them to give us their top three gifts they would love to receive for Christmas so that we could pick two.  We didn’t spend more than $25 total for each child.

Will has already told me about my “big” gift so that I can start working on it with him!  LOL  He is using his computer skills to give this blog a total makeover!!!  This makeover will include a new template, new format, new blog button, new header, and I even decided to use this time as the perfect time to launch the new blog name!!!  The new name will be “Unwrapping His Grace”!!!  I will share more about why I am making this big change in Saturday’s article, this weekend!  I am SO excited about my new gift!!!  And it doesn’t cost a penny…only something more precious…his valuable time and skills!  And we get to work on it together which is a gift too!  He has a couple of other gifts up his sleeve but he won’t tell me!  LOL  So I will have to let you know what they are after Christmas!

One of my gifts for Will is a gift experience!  Annie is staying with us from Christmas Day afternoon through the whole week after Christmas until Friday, December 30th.  Sometime during the week, Annie will watch the boys (which is a gift to all of them because they love having time together) for us while we go out on a Christmas date.  There are some really neat places to drive through and see the beautiful Christmas lights followed a stop at our favorite restaurant for coffee for him and cocoa for me!  I can’t wait to surprise him with it!  (He is not allowed to read this article till after Christmas!! LOL  Gotta keep a secret right?)

I found a few other special inexpensive gifts for him as well…and I am making my own version of a “Christmas year round coupon book” for him from me too with special things from wife to husband.  Some will be gifts of dates, some will be foot rubs, some will be cleaning his office, buying him coffees or sodas…in addition to other special husband/wife private coupons.

Annie has gotten excited about finding gifts that are frugal too!  She called me from a yard sale at the beginning of October.  She was very excited and wanted to ask me about a few DVDs for her brothers from her for Christmas.  She found them for $1 each and tried them at her house to make sure they were skip free!  They were!  What a great idea!  The boys will love them!

We have made special gifts for my parents and Will’s parents too, but I can’t tell you what they are now…my mother-in-law reads my blog sometimes and I don’t want to ruin the surprise!  We already gave my parents theirs when they came for an early Christmas the first weekend of December and they really loved it!

We are making yummy snack and cookie bags for our niece and nephews with a $10 gift card to Wal-Mart hidden inside!

I hope you have found some last-minute inspiration while reading this post.  You all inspire me so much every day!

Be sure to join me for…

Saturday…Exciting Blog News!  I will be announcing a new name for my blog that better fits what God is doing in my real life!

Sunday…Celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Advent in His Word and Suggested Advent Readings for the week leading up to Christmas Day!

Tuesday…The final article in my Advent Devotional Series on Luke 1 ...”The Gift God Wants from His Children”

Thursday…Special ways to say Happy Birthday to Jesus during the 12 days of Christmas (which starts with Christmas)

Saturday/Sunday…  A special Christmas message

Don’t miss a single post!  Take a moment to sign up for the free updates through your E-Reader or in your email.  And be sure to join the brand new Unwrapping His Grace Facebook Community.

Unwrapping His Grace,

Mary Joy

Titus 2(sdays) at Time Warp Wife

Celebrate Christmas with “Raising Arrows”

 

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

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  • http://www.bloggingwhilewaiting.blogspot.com Sarah

    HI Mary Joy! Hope you're enjoying preparing for this wonderful time of year!

    My Homemaking Link-Up Weekend is going on now! Hope you'll come link up your homemaking-related posts!

    Have a blessed Christmas season!

    Sarah