Tag Archives: frugal christmas gifts

How we are surviving the holidays without Credit Cards

If you don’t pay your credit card balance in full each month and/or you are on a debt-free journey then this article it for you

Christmas 2009 – This year I have made it the ‘holiday without credit cards’ or store cards for that matter – we are on a cash only basis. And let me tell you that it is not easy within a world deemed convenient for shoppers! Many times, I wish I could just slip up, but that would defeat the matter of becoming debt free. I wanted to let you know how we are surviving the holidays without credit cards. (and I am sure we are doing it all backwards)

Creating a budget for Christmas

Wrong! We didn’t budget at all for Christmas this year! So, I have this summer fund whose intentions are to be used for stuff like this, but we blew it all during summer paying for school charges and enjoying summer. I think I was secretly hoping the holiday shopping season wouldn’t come. LOL.

Now we are buying gifts out of our *Cash Allowance. Let me tell you, this does not leave much cash to be dispersed for holiday shopping! After groceries and gas for the week…it’s tight. But, we are managing by buying a few gifts each week. I’ve spent about $100 on each kid and am hoping the family will spoil them further.

And if we run out of money (which we’ve been doing by ending up with a few dollars left in our account each week), then we have to wait til next payday. No whipping out the cards until ‘next week’. Doesn’t work that way!


Make your own frugal gifts


Making gifts for the holidays

Wrong! I have this great post about Frugal Gifts for Christmas where my intentions were to start some cool crafts for family and friends. Ya… no, I started maybe one or two, but they are undone crafts sitting in a box.

Okay, okay. Here is what I am doing right – making Christmas cookies for friends and family gifts. They are going to get an assortment of cookies; snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin walnut, russian tea cakes, sugar, and russian tea cakes. I may even throw in a glass of milk πŸ˜‰

Limited holiday spending amounts

Definitely. Coworkers – I could have baked a bunch of goods, but my friend proved it’s difficulty to bake during a busy holiday work week – instead I spent $3 each on a box of chocolates or Danish butter cookies. Simple, no stress. Costs approx $30 for 10 coworkers.

Kids & Husband – limited to $100 each.

Prioritizing Gift Buying

Two larger expenditures are going to be made for charitable reasons – gifts that are definitely needed. I am looking at spending $120 all together.

Each year, a foster mom puts a big box at our local restaurant for toy donations for the foster kids in the area. This is near and dear to my heart being raised in foster homes. Foster kids need to know they are loved while going thru a difficult situation. I want to help with that reason.

Then at the restaurant, we like to buy breakfast for a senior or two as we are walking out the door. We secretly tell the waitress its on us. I’ve never seen the recipient’s reaction, but I hope its a generous smile.

And there is my daughter’s school. We are buying a class gift of paper, pencils, crayons, and hand sanitizer. Budget cuts have definitely put a strain on the school system – I am just hoping to make things a bit easier.

Ho Ho Ho

Spending more time with people instead of at the store

Yup! we strolled the Festival of Lights in my area and tonight we are strolling a neighborhood full of holiday lights.

I’ve been invited to make tamales and drink wine with the girls – this is great because the costs are split between us and we have a great time.

We also spend time watching holiday movies on the Lifetime and Hallmark channel, while drinking hot cocoa.

Then there is spending time with friend’s at holiday parties, spending time with the kids when they help me make dinner, the cookie making get together and going to church for Midnight Mass (haven’t done this in years!).


I won’t lie, it’s not easy having a frugal Christmas. I want to shop without boundries as much as the next person. But we’ve become pretty serious about paying off our debt this year and I don’t want to mess that up.

We might be doing this frugal Christmas thing backwards, but the key point is that we are surviving the holidays without credit cards or store cards (ya Wells Fargo! Just because you raised our credit limit yesterday to $15,700 and recently raised our APR to 22% doesn’t mean I’m gonna get suckered by you!).

I am not getting suckered in to paying an additional debt sentence of 6 years.

I know the kids may feel the downer of not opening tons of gifts, but they will understand the importance when we are debt free.

And I know many people are hurting this year due to budget cuts, job losses, etc… I am glad to know that we have the resources to help out a bit (I wish we could do so much more).

How is your holiday season coming along? Are you on budget? Not accruing any new debt? Would love to hear!

*Cash Allowance: funds left over for the use of groceries, gas, entertainment, oil changes, hair cuts… that weekly spending stuff.

How to make a Room & Linen Spray

This article has been posted on the Make it From Scratch Carnival hosted by Gotta Little Space – be sure to check it out! πŸ™‚

Here is another great frugal gift or idea to use all year round – Room & Linen spray. Making linen spray is so simple to do and much less expensive than going to a department store to buy it. You know exactly what is being sprayed onto your linens or in your room and have comfort in knowing that only pure natural products are being used. The toughest part of making these is deciding what scents to use.


  • 1/2 Cup distilled water
  • 1tsp vodka or witch hazel
  • 5 to 6 drops essential oil (DragonMarsh $4.50)

A small (1/8th oz) bottle of essential oil goes a long way!

Use 4 oz. clean spray bottle (Michael’s craft store – $1.19) with fine mist spray nozzle. In a small bowl, mix essential oil and vodka together. The alcohol works as an emulsifier, allowing the oil and water to mix evenly. Pour the essential oil-vodka mix into the spray bottle, add the 1/2 cup filtered water, and shake. Make sure to shake well before each use.

If you don’t have a dropper for your oil, don’t fear! Follow these steps: 1) Stick a cocktail straw in the essential oil bottle 2) put your finger over the top of straw 3)keep finger on the straw and move straw over to your bowl with the vodka 4) take finger off the top of straw and wha-la! – the straw becomes a dropper *Thanks husband for being a great hand model! πŸ™‚

Great holiday essential oils to use: eggnog, cinnamon, hollyberry, vanilla, cranberry, or orange (DragonMarsh does carry these oils, although they may not be listed online – email them, they’d be happy to help). Favorite year round scents to use: lavender or vanilla. Or you could mingle scents to enhance the aromatic experience with these 10 blends:

Blend #1

3 drops Orange
2 drops Grapefruit

Blend #2

4 drops Orange
1 drop Ylang Ylang

Blend #3

3 drops Orange
2 drops Ginger

Blend #4

3 drops Bergamot
1 drop Neroli
1 drop Jasmine

Blend #5

3 drops Fir Needle Oil
2 drops Spruce Oil

Blend #6

3 drops Lavender
2 drops Vanilla

Blend #7

3 drops Lavendar
2 drops Sandlewood

Blend #8

3 drops Vanilla
2 drops Ginger

Blend #9

3 drops Cinnamon
2 drops Nutmeg
1 drop Sweet Orange

Blend #10

3 drops Hollyberry
2 drops Sweet Orange
1 drop Clove

Another great use for the spray: to use in your car. I love using the vanilla spray in my car after it’s been hand washed (in my driveway – hopefully by my children :)). It’s a great way to get the “I’ve been to the car wash” feel without paying the money. Note: you may need to increase the essential oil to 10 drops for a more concentrated scent.

For more great essential oil blend ideas visit my Examiner.com article.

For more Christmas gift ideas try Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas and Christmas Gifts under $10.

Christmas Gifts Under $10

Have you tried Elfster? Elfster is the Web 2.0 of Secret Santas – a Secret Santa Online Gift Exchange Provider – who’s mission is to make the joy of giving fun and easy to experience, reviving time honored traditions with new thinking and new technology. Is a great tool for Secret Santa exchanges at the office or for the family holiday gathering.

And that’s what my office is doing – the annual Secret Santa Exchange. Names have already been drawn and we have officially begun the holiday season (ya, the beginning of November). Holiday gift giving at the office can quickly become overwhelming to your budget. Fortunately, my office has set a spending limit of $10. Here are some great gifts that you can purchase for under $10 without looking stingy:

  1. Holiday Scented Candle & A Throw

    Yankee CandlesOne year, a coworker gave me a Holiday Spice candle and a Cranberry colored throw. I still love using the throw on the couch during the winter months. It was a perfect gift. Yankee Candle Co. small votive candles actually last quite a few hours. It’s the only candle brand I buy.


  3. Christmas CD

    The Andrew Sisters & Bing CrosbyWhy not help start the mood with jingles from Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, or Andy Williams. Perhaps accompany the gift with a box of homemade biscotti.



  5. Set of Picture Frames filled with Home Holiday Recipes

    Picture CoasterA good place to find a set of picture frames would be in the clearance section of Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. A nice solid black frame accompanies almost any household interior. Make it extra special by framing some of your homemade holiday dessert recipes.


  7. Gift Card

    petsmart_cardsThis one never goes out of style and remains a popular gift in the office. Give a gift card to their favorite lunch or coffee location. Starbuck and Target always tops the list in the States!


  9. Make-up Tote

    Set of 3 cosmetic BagsDon’t take this one lightly. I found a gorgeous 3 piece Make-up Tote, in exquisite Chinese fabric, at JCPenny’s for $10. And the recipient loved, loved the gift.



  11. Craft Supplies

    Christmas CraftDo you have someone who likes to knit, scrapbook, or hobby some type of craft during their spare time. Try your local craft store for some fabulous finds like a set of decorative scissors, scrapbooking embellishments, or colored yarn.


  13. Journal or a Book & a box of Tea

    JournalsNothing better than spending quite time on the couch to journal some thoughts and sip some warm tea. A good place to find a nice journal for mega cheap bucks? My mom and I found really nice ones in the clearance section at a Border’s Book Store waaaayyy in the back. Don’t be afraid to check out the clearance sections – you can find some optimal finds!

    Many book stores also carry a great selection of Books under $10. A great author for cozy holiday reading? Debbie Macomber for sure!


  15. Cookbook & Ingredients or Gourmet Pasta

    PastaAgain, check out the marked down books at your bookstore. There is always a great cookbook inventory there. I found one of my favorites, a 400+ soup recipe book, in that section for $4. Accompany the cookbook with some gourmet shaped pasta.


  17. Gourmet Chocolate Bars wrapped with red bow

    Chocolate BarsChocolate is a girl’s best friend. The local drugstore or Target carries quite a selection of gourmet chocolate bars. Stack em’ high and wrap with a gorgeous red bow.


  19. Colorful Post-it Notes

    Post-It NotesDue to the economic downturn many supply budgets have been cut from the office. To us, that meant no more colored Post-it Notes. *sigh* Brighten a coworker’s day with a bright package of them.

  20. Holiday scented Bath Products

    bath-body-works-holidayHere is another popular gift among coworkers – sented bath products. The favorite store is Bath & Bodyworks. The favorite office scent – Sweat Pea and Japanese Cherry Blossom.


  22. Set of Christmas Cookie Cutters

    Cookie CutterAnother of my favorite cooking/baking gift to recommend, is a box a holiday cookie cutters. Wilton’s has a splendid box of colored cookie cutters for just under $10. No, it is not polite etiquette to expect your coworker will bring you sugar cookies to work. πŸ˜‰

I hope that you enjoyed some of these ideas. It helped me decide what to get my pick for the secret santa exchange! What are some of your favorite under $10 gifts?

Click Here for more Frugal Christmas Ideas from Money Funk