Sunday, September 29, 2013

How are your frugal Christmas plans going?

Most years, I'm in pretty good shape for Christmas by the end of September.  Not so much this year. Perhaps being retired has reduced the pressure of getting it all done in time.  Maybe it just isn't that important now because I can give to friends and family when they need it, not just some token at Christmas. Who knows?

My knitting and crocheting are horrible -- I don't have the patience for it. I've found a few things that work for me on a regular basis.

One of my old home-made favorites is a cutting board.  The ones in the stores are made of scraps and fall apart at the seams under heavy use.  Solid, one piece boards are rare and expensive if you find them on store shelves.  Now's a great time to start making these for a three reasons. First, they are EASY.  Second is that to be really frugal, you want the least expensive way to use expensive wood. Start looking for shorter pieces of 6 inch or wider oak and maple in the hardwood section of Home Depot, Lowes or other places that carry it.  The wood should be at least half an inch thick, but not more than thee-quarter inch. They usually provide one free cut, so if you get a shorter remnant and have it cut, you don't need to rev up your saw at home to get the size you want, or pay for the extra cuts. After that, sand the edges and seal with food grade mineral oil. You're done!  The third reason these are great for Christmas is that most recipients really come to love them if they use them. The best sizes are 6 or 8 inches wide by 10 to 12 inches long. Larger than that, they become problems for storage or cleaning. Smaller and they aren't as useful.  I've made myself a couple 5.5 X 8.5 inch boards and they have less utility -- OK for cutting lemons or garlic, but you need a bowl close at hand for anything larger. That's two things to wash instead of one. About washing: my Mom had one- piece oak cutting boards, put them in the dishwasher regularly and only rarely reapplied mineral oil.  They got thinner over time, but they outlived her. A few were at least 40 years old when we had to pack up her house.

Another favorite frugal gift idea is any local agricultural item, especially for gifts that need to be mailed. Local honey is always a good gift. We are in an area that has abundant pecans and pistachios, so those go in the box for brother and cousin. My preserves are going out faster than I anticipated so none will be in the Christmas boxes, unfortunately. What about your area? Popcorn? Maple syrup?

A few of those on my list are either big backpackers or maintain a lot of preparedness supplies, so they can get the same type of gifts. By watching websites like Emergency Essentials, I can pick up a few bargains for their Christmas gifts.

Don't forget the change jar. A local store has one of those coin counting machines that doesn't keep a percentage if you put the money on a gift card. They offer a choice for Amazon, so big readers may like one of those!

What are some of your favorite frugal Christmas gifts to give?


  1. The cutting board is a very good idea. I usually give away some honey for Christmas and was going to add in dipping stick this year but now I may also make a few cutting boards and make the Mrs. bake something as well :)

    1. Honey is a mighty nice gift. Your bees? If so, big salute to you for keeping the little critters healthy and gainfully employed!

    2. Yep. I had some serious losses over Winter from last years drought but they did well this Summer. Now if I can just keep em alive this Winter.