Thrifty Holiday Gifts You Can Start Now

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It is already November. I know, it’s hard to believe. With difficult financial news all around us, I think that these upcoming holidays could be challenging for many folks. I wanted to share some simple, thrifty holiday gifts that Frugalites could start now. To keep costs low, these are not things that you buy but things that you make with relatively low-cost materials. There are many benefits to being a producer; saving big on your holiday gifts is definitely one of them!

Aloe Vera Plants in Creative Pots

Aloe Vera is a wonderful plant to have around due to the healing properties of the gel inside of its leaves. I have heard of the gel being used to soothe burns, sunburn, and other wounds. I know someone who taped a piece of the leaf to the plantar warts on her feet to cure them. Although you can buy aloe vera gel, it often has preservatives added. Personally, I prefer to use a fresh piece of leaf rather than processed gel. Aloe vera is a nice herbal medicine to have on hand, and many people would appreciate the gift of this plant. 

But where to get some? Rather than buy some new, I suggest you try and take advantage of the habit of the aloe vera plant to reproduce wildly, creating tons of little baby plants around it in its pot. How do I know this? I live in a pretty sparsely populated rural area. However, in my small immediate circle, I know four people with aloe vera plants producing so many babies that they are overtaking their pots!

I got my own plants from a friend with a particularly full pot of babies. From the two small specimens I took from him, I ended up with something like a DOZEN babies not too long after! For this reason, I feel relatively confident that an enterprising Frugalite could find a source for a few aloe vera babies in their locality.

Some ways to do this would be word of mouth, posting on a local buy and sell, or putting up a sign in the local grocery store. Most people would be delighted to barter their aloe babies for something else they need. 

How do you make aloe vera into a gift?

To turn this into a gift, you then need some dirt (you could get this in your backyard, or the yard of your apartment building, possibly) or a cheap bag of dirt. Our local postmaster is growing the largest aloe plant I have ever seen in a HUGE bucket in our post office. When asked about what kind of soil, he said he just planted it in “cheap dollar store dirt.”

Once you have your dirt, you can plant your aloe vera babies in funky mugs from a thrift shop (good for very small ones, but won’t have any drainage) or neat ceramic pots (you can create drainage for larger ones by putting a plastic pot with holes in the bottom inside a larger ceramic one). By looking over a period of time, I have been able to find gorgeous pots for my aloe vera gifts. For example, I have thrift shopped a solid brass one of a good size and a handmade ceramic one with a beautiful pattern that suited a small plant.

Estimated cost per gift (if you barter for the aloe plants): From free to under $3, depending on what you pay for the pot

Custom Signs

In our area, old-style rustic farm signs are very popular. A lot of people have them for sale on the local buy-and-sells, but they aren’t cheap, often over $20. One year, I invested in a few stencils and made some lovely gifts using scrap wood that I had around the house. 

As this requires an initial investment to buy craft materials, this would be a better gift if you have a range of people in your life that you think would enjoy these. Or, perhaps you are already crafty and have some scrap wood (thin planks with a smooth surface are good) and acrylic paint around.

The items I needed to buy were some white paint, a few lettering stencils (I got these on clearance at a local craft store), and some stencil spray (I learned the hard way that this prevents the bleeding of the stencil paint….it is worth buying!). I used my drill to make holes for hanging the sign and used some rough-looking twine I had on hand for the hanging rope. You may be able to find a “premade” blank sign at a discount store, ready for your custom message.

What kind of messages are popular?

I tailored mine to my receivers. For my Mom, I made a sign that simply said “MOM,” but instead of an O, I used a heart symbol. Short but sweet! For my aunt, who is living in her own home at 83, and loving it, I made a sign that said “HOME,” but put a heart instead of the O. She loved hers, too. I have a cousin who absolutely loves her horse….I could make her a sign with the word HORSE and a heart where the O goes. That’s just one idea. “WELCOME” would be a nice sign for just about anyone.

Estimated cost per gift: If you buy the paint and spray, and stencils, the initial investment might be up to $15, but with those materials, you could make many, many signs. Even if you bought a blank sign to fill in for each person, you could produce signs for under $7 if you decide to make at least a half dozen of them. Probably each sign would take around an hour of your time to make once you got the hang of it. 

“Care Package” Soup

Winter is coming, which means that people will be catching colds and flu. How thoughtful of you to prepare some healthy and healing chicken noodle soup for friends and family ahead of time! You can put a humorous note on the soup, instructing them, “In case of cold or flu, thaw and heat” With life being so busy and groceries so expensive, I think most people would be grateful to get this thoughtful gift, which will keep well through the winter season. As a single Frugalite, I can say that this would be a much-appreciated break from cooking!

With time on your side, Frugalite, you can watch and wait for chicken to go on sale and make the soup then. Depending on what your budget is for the gift, you could use a more expensive container, such as a Tupperware or canning jar, or more of a single-use idea, like a plastic vacuum pack or a cheaper plastic container. If you are able, you could also pressure can the soup to make it shelf stable.  

Estimated cost per gift: Given current inflation, it may cost up to $1 per serving of soup if you make a large batch. If a mason jar costs around $1.00 or less, then you are at around $2 per gift here. 

Thrifty holiday giving takes your hands and your heart.

Most of these holiday gifts cost only a few dollars, plus your time. Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty gift tips offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

Thrifty Holiday Gifts You Can Start Now
Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. (www.halfacrehomestead.ca) Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

10 thoughts on “Thrifty Holiday Gifts You Can Start Now”

  1. I think soup, or something else which can be frozen and later reheated, is an excellent idea. Handcrafted items are very nice, but I think it’s better if it is something that can be used (like a potholder) rather than a decorative item, as so many people seem to be downsizing these days. Of course, knowing if the recipient would appreciate your gift really helps.

    1. Hi Alice, Thanks so much for your kind words! I appreciate your thoughts on usefulness rather than decorative items. I totally agree. I think that it can be harder to judge someone’s taste about the decor, too. So often, I’ve been given some kind of nic nac that just doesn’t suit me and I give it away to our local thrift shop. Thankfully, we’ve now truly downsized our holiday gift giving, so there’s a lot less pressure…and waste! Wishing you the best this fall!

  2. Great inexpensive gift ideas. I especially like the aloe plant ideas. I love my aloe plant, and it can’t be beat for burns.

    1. Hi Bonnie, Thanks so much! I am glad you enjoyed these. I find that making the gifts with lots of time to spare makes it more relaxing and enjoyable, too. That is great to hear that you’ve had good luck with your aloe plant, too. Now that I’m used to having a fresh one on hand, I honestly can’t imagine being without one…or two….or three! Wishing you the best!

  3. This is amusing but it might work for some people.

    After we had all left home for our own living arrangements, my parents (we thought) over-bought. Under the tree was loaded. As we started to unwrap the mountain, we discovered that our parents had painstakingly wrapped all the stuff we had left behind for free storage. We laughed so hard, took our stuff out to the car, and our parents had a cleaner home.
    The next year our parents forgave us any debt we owed them. I felt a bit left out because I didn’t owe them anything, but then when I thought about all the money they had spent on me during the time I lived with them, I felt better.

    My favorite gifts to them were homemade jams and jellies, car wash tickets, and one year I took their car and detailed it myself. My brother built homes, so I would go over and clean them when he had finished. My other brother was too hard to buy for, so we decided not to exchange gifts.

    My husband and I, having children who earned more than we did, decided not to give to them (we did send grandchildren gifts), instead we gave the money to our church’s charity fund. My friends and I opt for time together instead of stuff.

    Hope this helps.
    PS. I read your butterfly story. Loved it!

    1. Hi Marie, Ha ha ha ha ha! You had me laughing so hard with your story of your amazing WINDFALL under the tree that year. That was absolutely HILARIOUS! All your ideas are super. The car detailing would be wonderful….are any of my relatives reading this? hello? I do think that focussing on the children is a good idea. We tend to exchange very little in gifts for the adults these days.

      I’m so glad you like my butterfly rescue story! It’s been getting a lot of views on the website. I am so pleased to share it with others. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Marie! Wishing you the best!

  4. Love the aloe idea! It seems mine exploded overnight with babies! I am going to hit the thrift store for interesting containers! I am leaning towards more handmade myself this year. I am making a calendula salve, and probably soaps and bath salts (already have most ingredients on hand).

    1. Hi Grammyprepper, That’s the beauty of starting now…I’m sure you’ll find some fantastic containers for your aloe babies. I’m sure they will be gratefully received. Two years ago, I had an amazing Calendula plant…I was disappointed it didn’t self seed this year. Oh, I sure missed it this season! Your handmade gifts would all be right up my alley. Wishing you the best with finding some fun containers and with your wonderful gift making!

  5. I don’t know if this will solve the problem of no drainage when using a mug or other closed-bottom containers for plants, but it’s an idea:

    Somewhere I saw the idea of putting small pebbles in the closed-bottom container, then lining it with a non-dissolving fabric before putting the dirt and plant in. That way, the plant could be gently lifted out and the water drained, so the roots aren’t just sitting in the water until it dries out. My idea is to put in a used dryer sheet instead of buying whatever it was that was recommended. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it will work. However, the part sticking out of the container (so it can be lifted out) might be unsightly and not suitable for gift giving.

    This might work better with using a glass jar as the planter and setting the whole thing down in a larger can, where the liner doesn’t show. I’ve used a similar method using a vegetable can as the planter, and a tuna can as the drain dish. I covered both with old book pages and it was kind of cute. For the planter can, I left about a 2″ space at the bottom so the drain water wouldn’t wick up and stain the upper part.

    1. Hi Carla, Thanks so much for giving some thought to this issue regarding planting the small aloe plants in the thrifty mugs. Yes, I do think that some small pebbles could definitely help. Another idea to increase water absorption at the bottom would be to add some fine pieces of peat moss. Even if someone doesn’t have fabric on hand, I think that one or both of those ideas would improve planting directly in the mug. If I was planning on actually eating the aloe plant, I would avoid using a liner that might have chemicals in it, like a dryer sheet. I’m not sure how the chemicals in a dryer sheet would affect the roots of a plant. If you do try this, and are able to let us know how the dryer sheet works, that would be great. Your thoughtful contributions are always appreciated! Wishing you a great fall.

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