How to do the holidays when you’re BROKE….

18 Dec

We are all broke.  Every one of us.  And those of you reading this who aren’t… consider yourself lucky to ASTOUNDING degrees.  Seriously.  (Why dont tax refunds come at the beginning of December?  Will someone explain that to me…)

Being broke any other time of the year is depressing enough… but when it’s the holidays, and you’re trying to get presents for all your friends and family, and you’ve got $22 in the bank that has to last until your paycheck comes in next week… it kindof makes you want to vomit everywhere.  So I’m going to post links and tips that I’ve used this season, because I’m one of those people with $22 in the bank on the verge of vomit.

The first thing I did this xmas season was send out a mass email to all my family members telling them that everyone was getting hand-made presents this year… so if they were hoping for gift cards or electronics, then they’re shit-outta-luck.  I did this so that they could get their fake “oh, I really love your craptastic gift” faces ready for when they open their presents.  I found it only fair.  After that email was properly delivered, I threw myself into a crafty tornado.

First…. if you’ve got little ones in your family, they’re easy.  Seriously… kids toys are some of the simplest things on the planet to make.  Just pay attention to what they like, and go from there.  For example… my 3 year old nephew looooves toy food, and he looooves anything with a smiley face on it.  So boom- I made him happy play food.  All you need is some sheets of felt from any craft store (about a $0.25 a sheet), and a little free time (which I know is rare for all of us… but if it keeps me from going further into debt, I’ll stay up a couple extra hours at night).  I got all my ideas from doing some simple searches on flickr of “plush animals”, and went from there….. here’s what I made:

From left to right: Chocolate Cupcake; 1/2 dozen crocheted happy eggs; happy cake slice; happy apple, happy vanilla cupcake, and a couple of giddy fried eggs in the center.  If you know how to crochet, the eggs were a breeze… just make ovals, and put faces on them.  The cupcakes were actually from a pattern I found on flicker from a company called “Fantastic Toys”, and can be found here and here

They’re super easy to make, and soooooo cute!  The happy food took a little time to make… but all of it cost me less than $3.  AND I’d like to think that a hand made gift means a little more than some plastic piece of crap bought at Wal-mart.

Now, I don’t know how all of you feel about Martha Stewart, but she has become one of my favorite little felons.  Her website is CRAWLING with all kinds of stuff to make people for the holidays. Do you have a lady in your family or circle of friends who likes all those girly bath products that cost a million bucks?  Surprise… they cost pennies to make.  Seriously.  Here are links to the “how to’s” on how to make them:

You can buy plain glass jars at the dollar store, put the bath products in there and tie it up with a bow.  The cost?… a few bucks for the whole present.  Awesome, right?

Does your dad want some slippers?  Make them out of felt HERE or doctor up a nice pair of wool socks HERE. (You may not like Martha, but you can’t argue that she’s a genius when it comes to this stuff).

If you’ve got kids, then it’s a breeze to make things for the grandparents.  I found at my art store acrylic enamel paint.  This stuff is awesome.  Basically, you take any plain ceramic dishes or coffee mugs you have laying around, paint whatever you want on them with the enamel and then bake them in the oven… and POOF!  Personalized dinnerwear and coffee mugs.  The kind I got was “Liquitex: Glossies”, and they come in tons of colors.  Have your little ones make coffee mugs for Grandma and Grandpa… or make funny dishes for your friends.  You can buy stencils and use them if you’re not comfortable with your “painting skills”.  Each bottle of the enamel costs about $3, and if you’re in need of blank dinnerwear- just go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill store.  They have oodles.  Total cost for each painted item- about $5.

If you’ve got dollar stores or a “Big Lots” in your area, you can get picture frames for REALLY cheap (Big Lots has super nice ones that would cost you $25 at “Michael’s” for only $5-$7).  The colors of them are usually super ugly… so just fix that with a little spray paint and frame some special photo for that special someone.  I did this in my bedroom, and framed color print-outs of cupcakes that matched my bedroom’s colors.

It’s not hard… and really, when you add up all the time you would spend running from store to store getting the presents, and all the time you have to spend at work to make the money you would use to buy the expensive store-bought gifts… and then compare that amount of time to how long it would take to make some presents- you’ll find out that it really takes less time to make something than it takes to buy it (and you won’t be financially traumatized for the new year).

Just a few suggestions from me to you.  Why?  Cuz I love you.

Off to work I go.

Little Bird Baby Hat I made for my 1-year-old nephew... hee hee!!

Little Bird Baby Hat I made for my 1-year-old nephew... hee hee!!

(ps…. if anyone wants directions on how to make any of the happy food, I’m more than happy to share!! Just let me know and I’ll post them on here!  🙂  )


12 Responses to “How to do the holidays when you’re BROKE….”

  1. TaraRist December 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm #

    The happy food is the CUTEST!!

    I used to work at a daycare and honestly, the fake food is my favorite! However… when 3 year olds see a piece of pie that looks FREAKISHLY realistic (always made me hungry)of course they put it in their mouths.
    When you’ve got 15 2-4 year olds running around it’s hard to catch everyone that might be chewing on a fake friend egg. I was always very concerned with the amount of toxins the nuggets might be ingesting as they munch away at their plastic meal.

    I am definitely going to try and make these for my sister (she still works at the daycare)and hopefully the wee ones will adore them as much as I do!

    Way to go Kristen!

  2. Kristen Ferrell December 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    YAY!!!! I have a big love for fake food, too. I have no idea why this is- but I just do. I used to work at a day care in highschool! And I worked with the 2-4 year olds as well! But this was a crappy day care… and they left me (at age 17) alone and in charge of 14 toddlers (SOOOOO illegal!!). Potty time was traumatic. For everyone.

    But I wanted to make them out of felt and yarn so that there were no parts that could break off (because as well as the 3 year old, they have a 1 year old too), and I don’t like the idea of the boys chewing on mystery plastic food. But Cian (the 3 year old) has a habit of putting his fake food in the oven to “bake it like mommy does”… so hopefully he doesn’t try to do this with the cake and cupcakes.

  3. Joey December 18, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    That babybird hat is darling.

    I have been really into baking lately so a lot of people around me are getting tins full of cookies. Dog owners are getting homemade dog treats (I haven’t figured out cat stuff yet, but I came across some pet bed patterns).

    Links I’ve been loving:

    And this isnt crafty at all, but if you are stuck last minute Menards has awesome prices on big scented candles. 🙂

  4. Kristen Ferrell December 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    Cat toys…… always go with catnip toys. they can be little felt mice or birds or squirrels or whatever- but fill them all with catnip. That’s all a cat really wants (or at least my cats… except Oscar. He’s our sober cat of the household and doesn’t partake in the catnip frenzy).

    Thanks so much for the links!!!

  5. Lex, Agent of Chaos December 19, 2008 at 5:23 am #

    Damn, this is an apt post! Especially for us. We have medical insurance and still we racked up approx. $35k just this year, just on me out of pocket. And I’m STILL paying on a few MRIs. Our insurance is more like a coupon than coverage. So anyway, that’s my sob story…LOL… least I’m well now;) That’s my present to the family, a healthy Lex.

  6. christine December 19, 2008 at 6:51 am #

    I LOVVVVE the eggs supercute! I’ve been regifting and ebaying gifts. Can’t beat a $4 vintage dress, who wouldnt want that as a gift??

  7. Michelle December 19, 2008 at 6:58 am #

    Everything is sooo cute! I love fake food. I’m also making homemade gifts for my kids & family this year. Not only is it less expensive but I feel better about not giving people more crap that was bought on a whim at a big box store. I just need some more time to get it all done!!!

  8. Cassie December 19, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    I love the happy food! I made my 2 year old neice a felt playset. I just used an old tack board and covered it in felt. Then I made little animals out of felt and attached zelcro to them. Now she can make her own woodland scenes! I am thinking of adding the alaphabet too, so she can start to learn that.

    I told everyone that they were getting handmade or homebaked stuff this year and everyone understood. Thanks for posting your stuff!!!

  9. Cassie December 19, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    velcro, velcro.

    *ugh* I need coffee!

  10. Kimberly December 19, 2008 at 9:37 am #

    Wowwww!! I don’t know about your friends and family, but I’d much rather have some adorable fake food instead of some gift card or electronic.

    All of these creations are FAR from craptastic!

  11. whitney December 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    cute shit!
    glad i’m not the only one making all my gifts this year.

    i have this book that tells you how to make lip glosses…. so i’m basically doing that for my girl friends. as well as sewing up plushies of peoples fav things (ice cream, zombies, dinosaurs etc.) it IS really cheap and easy. candles are pretty easy too. parawax is cheap and there’s a lot that comes in a pack. and i have so much shit laying around my house i am just upcycling it into gifts.

    here’s a cute craft i made with some shit i had thats simple and most mom’s would like. i took chicken wire left over from my rabbits cage and cut that into a 3 inch tall by about 12 inch strip, took billions of pieces of ribbons i have laying around and weaved it in and out of the holes of the wire, wrapped the ribboned wire around a jelly jar lid and tied it tight and filled it with those glass marble beads. then you take those cheap bic pens you can get like for like a few cents for like 20 in a pack…. wrap those with floral tape with a fake pretty flower on top (so when it’s all wrapped, it looks like a flower), then throw that in the beads. so in the end you have a flower pen holder that looks like a flower pot. you’ve probably seen these around offices. normally people use flower pots and decorate those, but why go out and by the pots when you can make your own and put a twist on it?

    hopefully this works:

    i’m gonna have to try out the slippers craft! i have shit tons of felt and no idea what to make me dad for xmas! haha.
    thanks for all the tips, youre wonderful!


  12. Lex, Agent of Chaos December 20, 2008 at 8:23 am #

    LOL…..that was the best thing about my husband’s company Christmas Party. The theme was “Film Noir” and most of my clothes are weird vintage things so no shopping at ALL. Well, just the cigars which I’d already purchased down in FLA.

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