Sunday, September 18, 2005

Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

With Christmas just around the corner it is time to start
thinking about gift giving, it you have not done so already! As
a single income family we are on a budget and I am always on the
look out for frugal fun Christmas gift ideas. The ideas I am
sharing with you here are a few of the different things I have
done over the years as well as some ideas that I may be doing
this year. Perhaps it will spark some new ideas for you this
Christmas season!

Gift Baskets are always popular:

Breakfast Basket

Pick one or two food type gifts:
Pancake & waffle mix along with homemade syrup
Homemade granola

Homemade raisin bread
Homemade cinnamon rolls

Then add any of the following:
Homemade pot holders
Dish towels
Coffee mugs

Dish towels, spatulas, coffee mugs can be found at dollar stores
or Wal-Mart very inexpensively.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Pancake Mix

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground if possible
2 T baking powder
4 t cinnamon
1 t salt

To this mix add:
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup light olive oil or oil of your choice

Add extra milk if batter is too thick. Cook pancakes as usual.

Sucanat Syrup

2 cups Sucanat
1 cup water
2 t. maple flavoring
pat of butter, opt.

In a saucepan heat the Sucanat and water until just boiling and
the Sucanat has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the maple
flavoring and butter, if desired.

Another option that gives this syrup more of a maple taste and
still cuts down on the cost of pure maple syrup is to substitute
1/3 c. pure maple syrup for the 2 t. maple flavoring.

Put this syrup in small canning jars and top with a canning lid
and ring. Seal in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes or give
directions to store in refrigerator if you do not want to can it.

Bath Basket:

This can be easy to put together with items from a dollar store.

Possible items to add:

Hand lotion
Homemade bath salts
A bar of moisturizing soap
A loofa sponge or bath mitt
A bag of homemade bath tea
Homemade Shower Gel
A candle or two
A CD of soothing relaxing music, look on Half.Com for inexpensive used CD's

For the hand lotion: you can buy large quantities of hand lotion
and scent it yourself with some essential oil or fragrance oil
and then put it into smaller bottles for gift giving. Small size
plastic bottles can be purchased at Wal-Mart in the cosmetics

Homemade Shower Gel
Crystal Miller

1 cup of unscented shampoo
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
12-15 drops of essential oil or fragrance oil.

In a bowl mix together the shampoo and water. Add salt and mix
well. The salt will help the shampoo to gel. Then add your
essential or fragrance oils a few drops at a time. You don't
want to over due the scent. If you want to add some food
coloring to give it a bit of color you can, but that is totally

Basic Bath Salts
Crystal Miller

3 parts Epson Salt
2 parts baking soda
1 part table salt
Essential oil or fragrance oil, your choice

Mix all ingredients together well. I find using my hands to do
this does the best job. Put in glass canning jars or zip-type
bags for gift giving.

Gift basket items can be put in a basket or a nice decorated box.
I have done both. I have found beautiful looking baskets at
thrift stores for 50cents. If I do not have a basket I will
often just take a cardboard box and wrap the box only, leaving it
open, with some pretty looking, foil type Christmas wrap.

Food always makes a good gift:

Small loves of pumpkin bread or yeast bread or cinnamon rolls on
a plate.

Cookies: peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal, lemon bars,
sugar cookies, gingerbread men, or any of your family's favorite
cookies. Bake them ahead of time and freeze them. Then when you
are ready to make a pretty cookie plate simply pull a couple of
each type of cookie out of the freezer and put on your plate.

You can cover a plain white paper plate with foil and lay your
food items on this. Cover with Christmas looking plastic wrap
and top with a bow.

One year that we were struggling financially I even made
different types of flavored popcorn and gave this away in
zip-type bags with a bow on them.

Also you can give your own popcorn seasonings. Popcorn seasoning
in a small plastic bag and some popcorn that you put in a small
jar would be a cute, inexpensive gift as well.

Chili Popcorn Seasoning
Crystal Miller

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup popcorn, popped
Butter to taste

Combine all ingredients. Pop your corn and butter as you would
desire. Sprinkle your desired amount of seasoning over hot
buttered popcorn and enjoy!

Cheesy Italian Popcorn
Crystal Miller

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in blender until well mixed. This may take 2
to 3 minutes.
To Use:
Pop some popcorn, butter according to your desire and sprinkle
desired amount of seasoning on your popcorn. Toss everything to
coat evenly.

Cake or cookie mixes given in jars or zip-type bags. The
internet is full of recipes for this. A few that I have made
are, M&M cookie mix, Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Mix, and Brownie

Another frugal Christmas gift I have given over the years is
cocoa mix. I will often pack it in ziplock-type bags and then
look for inexpensive Christmas gift bags at the craft store to
put it in.

Big Batch Hot Cocoa Mix

16c. powdered dry milk
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
5 cups Sucanat or cane juice crystal's or sugar
1/2 t. salt

In a large bowl mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight
container or zip lock bags.
To use measure 1/3 cup of mix into a cup and add hot water and

Gourmet type coffee is really simple to make. Add your favorite
extract to regular ground coffee and mix well. Some good flavor
choices are, almond, mint, cinnamon, or orange.

Flavored coffees or coffee creamers and tea mixes are always a
good choice.

Cappuccino Coffee Mix

1 cup powdered coffee creamer
1 cup powdered chocolate milk mix
2/3 cup instant coffee granules
1/2 cup sugar or cane juice crystals
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a medium size bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.

To use: place a heaping tablespoon of mix into a coffee mug and
add about a cup of boiling water. Stir and enjoy!

Amaretto Coffee Creamer

3/4 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
1t. almond extract
1t. cinnamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients very well. Add your desired amount to a cup
of hot coffee!

Fruit flavored Tea Mix

1 cup instant tea
1 3-oz box of fruit flavored gelatin, your flavor choice
2 cups sugar or cane juice crystal's

In a medium size bowl combine all ingredients well. Package in a
canning jar or zip-type bag.
To use: Add approximately 2 teaspoons to a cup of boiling water
and enjoy!

Crystal Miller is a mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role aswife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and country living web site called The Family Homestead and has a free monthlynewsletter, "Homestead Happenings". You will find sign upinformation on her website.

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