What advertisers don’t tell you is that they have several sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if they are not selling enough they will offer deeper discounts to lure customers inside.
Internet Shopping for Deals
Internet shopping is an option, but has some drawbacks: these items are not able to be examined, are made more expensive by shipping fees, and are sometimes difficult and an additional expense to return. An ideal online buy is one from the website of a retailer in the area where the goods will be delivered to the retailer for free and any returns can be made at the retail store. Walmart.com, for example, has some internet-only deals, and will deliver free to a Walmart retailer of the customer’s choice. Same with Ace Hardware, Aeropostale, and numerous others.
Buy Gifts at Bazaars
Church fairs are another good source of gifts. Some handmade crafts and jewelry at these fairs can be bought brand-new for a quarter of what would be charged for these items at a retail store. Look for hand- knitted or crocheted scarves and hats; fleece hats and scarves with sports team logos; and sports-team pillowcases and blankets. Churches may charge $5 for sports hats and scarves, and $10 for pillowcases and blankets, while retailers charge twice this much, or more.
Handmade Gift Baskets Make Ideal Christmas Presents
Gift baskets are great presents and can be made easily by even the uncraftiest of people. Low-priced wicker baskets can be found at craft retailers like Michael’s or at dollar stores. If wicker baskets aren’t available, use festive or useful plastic ones with handles, again, the dollar stores are full of choices.
Each basket can have a “theme”, for example, a winter-themed basket could have two mugs, a bag of mini-marshmallows, and several packs of hot cocoa and microwave popcorn stuffed inside the mugs. Some inexpensive crumpled colored crepe paper or cellophane can be used to pad the inside of the basket, and that stabilizes the mugs. The whole basket can be covered in colored plastic wrap and tied with ribbon. Total cost? $10 maximum.
A bath-theme gift basket can be tailored to a man or woman, with appropriately scented (or unscented) soaps, hand lotions, sprays, and rolled-up facecloths nestled in a holiday-print handtowel. Kitchen baskets could sport a set of oven mitts, that are double-thickness or quilted to prevent burns, wrapped in a matching kitchen towel with a wooden spoon, or other kitchen tools.
Holiday Gift Mugs Make Inexpensive Christmas Presents
Variations on the basket gift are endless: Gift mugs can be used instead of baskets, filled with candy or chocolates and tied up with colored plastic wrap and ribbon. “Mugs” can range from English china teacups or mugs, which for some reason are amazingly inexpensive at Marshall’s TJ Maxx, or HomeGoods, to ceramic mini-loaf pans decorated with Christmas themes, which are available at places such as the Christmas Tree Store. The loaf pans can be filled with candy or homemade cookies, or can actually be used to bake a loaf of pumpkin or banana bread and wrapped as an edible and practical gift.
Holiday Gift Bottles
Another great gift than anyone could use is a bottle of bubbly in a holiday-decorated wine gift bag. These bags are $1 or less at dollar stores or discount stores such as Ocean State Job Lot. If the recipient is a wine drinker, a $5 bottle of Sutter Home or Beringer’s white zinfandel is a good gift. For an alcohol-free bubbly, a bottle of sparkling apple juice in one of the variety of mixed flavors (with cranberry, pear, etc.) or apple alone looks festively like the “real thing” and can be purchased for $5 or under at supermarkets or Job Lot. This bottle is a welcome addition to anyone’s table, keeping the kids happy while the adults are sipping the stronger stuff.
Holiday Evergreen Decorations and Planters
Planters require a little more daring in the creative department, but are well worth the effort and will disappoint no one. A mixture of evergreens is readily available at nurseries or “big box” stores like Home Depot that sell Christmas trees and have trimmings to give away. Second-hand Santa mugs, colorful flowerpots, or wooden boxes can all be used to create these decorations. These evergreens are inserted in brick-sized pieces of Oasis floral foam cut to the size of the container and dampened to keep the greenery fresh. If necessary, the planter can be lined with clear plastic to protect it from drips.
The accessory possibilities for planters are endless. Real and faux berries can be attached with wires, along with ribbons, tinsel, and birds. The beauty of these planters is, because of their small size, it’s almost impossible to overdecorate them, in fact, the more that is piled on the better the result. It is amazing how quickly one can create something that is sold in a nursery for $30, and what satisfaction to know the homemade version cost $5.00! What’s more, a few friends can get together for a planter and basket-making session with some food and drink, more fun than waiting in line at the mall.
Tools Needed for Holiday Baskets, Mugs, and Planters
Most of these items can be made using normal household tools, but some extras are handy to keep available. These are:
- A roll of thin wire
- Wire clippers
- Floral foam
- Colored plastic wrap
- Clear tape
- Colored cellophane or crepe paper
- Mugs, baskets, and containers
- Christmas or other decorations
- Items to match the “themed” baskets