This year I tried to cut down on the holiday spending. One way I achieved this was by making gift baskets for several of the folks on my list. Here are the contents, as shown in the photo above:
1 jar homemade blueberry jam from local berries (this was my first attempt at jam making and I loved it – so easy!)
1 bottle U-brew wine (we make a big batch every year, though I confess I’m not sure if the grapes used in this batch were local; the wine is really good – my former winery-resident DH agrees, and it works out to about $4 per bottle)
1 box of homemade christmas cookies (thank you, Martha Stewart: one dough recipe makes a variety of cookies)
1 handmade knit ball-band washcloth (note for knitters: this looks great if you pair a solid colour for the “mortar” with a wild variegated yarn for the “bricks”, like a pink/yellow/purple variegated with a solid turquoise blue)
1 sample of natural soap (I didn’t make it, but it’s from a local soapmaker – Pacific Coast Soapworks in Victoria, BC); I bought their sample pack for about $10 and divided it up among the gift baskets
The baskets were filled with shredded christmas flyers from the newspaper; I saved them because they were coloured red and green and I just put them through my shredder. I decided to cover that with a sheet of tissue paper so the stuff didn’t fly around. The only thing I felt guilty about were the baskets themselves – I bought them from a dollar store. But they aren’t plastic and they are reusable! I made little boxes for the cookies from old christmas gift bags that I save, and I wrapped the soap and the dishcloths with raffia.
Each gift basket cost me very little to put together since I already had the jam and the wine, having paid for it long ago. The cotton yarn I used to make the dishcloths is $1.69/ball and I use half of each colour for one cloth. The cookie ingredients were inexpensive and I used some apricot jam for filling and some glace cherries leftover from last year’s baking, so I didn’t have to buy any fancy decorating stuff for them. The tissue paper was also a leftover from previous gift wrapping purchases.
I feel really good giving these as gifts because I know I put alot of work and thought into them, they represent local and handmade items, and everything in them is recyclable, reusable, or (in the case of the soap and dishcloths) biodegradable.
I haven’t added up this month’s budget tally yet, but I’m very sure I spent at least a couple hundred dollars less on gifts this year than I did last year. I hope to do even better next year: planning ahead would greatly facilitate this! I think that will be one of my New Year’s Resolutions.