October 21

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Christmas On A Budget Without Getting A Budget Christmas

Week 4 – October 23rd, 2017

It’s the fourth week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

When you are putting together your budget for the coming month, take some time to put together a budget for Christmas. Granted, Christmas is stressful enough without the additional burden of trying to stick to your thrifty principles  and the very real danger of driving your sleigh straight into a whole heap of debt. But it is the very last time to lose sight of your budget. You are about to be blindsided by urgent and ever-expanding to-d0 lists, distracted by sparkly shop displays, and lulled into a false sense of security by the festive spirit… Just when your purse strings most need you to get a grip.

You need determination. You need self-control. Baby, you need a Plan. Careful planning now will save you from pricey panic-buying in December. Plus, it might leave you free to actually enjoy the run-up to Christmas. If you want to deliver a magical Christmas on a real-life budget now is the time to decide what that budget is going to be.

DIY gifts are one way of keeping on-budget at Christmas but be aware that not everyone will thank you for a home-made gift, no matter how thoughtful or skillfully made. To work out who you should – and should not – consider making gifts for, take a look at Who Is Going To Thank You For A Home-Made Gift?

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some advice about thrifty stocking fillers and why you really need them no matter how tight your budget is.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

October 15

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Whisky Marmalade and Money For Nothing

Week 3 – October 16th, 2017

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

It is the week to Preserve Something. Nature is shutting up shop for winter but Mamade prepared fruit knows no seasonal limits and makes tasty marmalade with none of the faff. (Actually, I am not opposed to the faff because it makes the place smell amazing for hours. but, honestly, I think the end product is just as good with a tin of Mamade.) If you pot up a few jars of marmalade now they should have matured nicely by Christmas, ready for gifting or for guzzling on Christmas morning. You know, to offset the chocolate.

You can up the gourmet factor considerably if you buy a cheap bottle of whisky and add a splash to your marmalade just before you pot it. And if you need further inspiration for using the rest of your whisky (beyond the obvious…) then take a look at How To Turn A Ten Pound Bottle Of Aldi Whisky Into A Hamperful Of Tasty Treats.

Since it is also the week to Review Your Spending, take a look at Money For Nothing to see if you could get more for your money with loyalty cards.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a plan for a frugal but fabulous festive period.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

September 2

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: A Free Christmas Wreath And Thriftier Main Meals

Week 1 – September 4th, 2017

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity and Grow Something.

Do you have any shrub herbs (lavender, bay, sage, rosemary…) in your garden? If you don’t – do! Even if all you have is a window sill, these are easy plants to grow, give colour right through winter, smell amazing, attract bees and butterflies, and can make cheap meals taste fancy. Right now is an excellent time to plant them – mild weather to help them bed in but less dry than the spring time.

If you have some already, then it’s time to think about cutting them back. It helps keep them in shape, looking good for the winter (I like to think it does the same for me if I do it vigorously enough…) But it also helps to make them last longer which means you don’t have to replace them every few years, Which is pretty thrifty.

Obviously you are not going to just chuck the cuttings away. You are going to hang them up indoors somewhere warm and dry so you can have a free supply of herbs in the kitchen for the next year. So why not kill two birds with one stone by drying them as a wreath. That way in about three months time you can bring out your herb wreath, add a few festive touches, and hang it up for Christmas.

After Christmas you can dismantle your wreath and put your dried herbs in jars. Or, if you are as disorganised as I am, you can hang the wreath in the kitchen to remind you to get round to jarring up your herbs. And then spend the next six months just picking them directly from your wreath as and when you need them. I got to quite like the country-kitchen feel it gave – or maybe I am just making excuses.

Once you have turned your garden refuse into a wreath, try turning the meat eaters in your house into pulse-lovers. Pulses are the cheapest source of protein but not everyone is happy with a vegetarian main course. There is a happy compromise: this is it.

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, a suggestion for a free family activity and some ideas to bring cheap colour to your garden at minimal cost to your pocket. See you then!

December 21

Free Thrifty Habits Planner For The Week Beginning Monday 21st December

Things To Do This Week And Easy DIY Gifts For The Frugally Festive

We all spend without thinking. My aim on Tartan Thrifty is to save money without thinking – to make thrifty living second nature

You can download a copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner here or skip to the end of this post.

Are we nearly there yet? Do you feel like you have been doing Christmas forever? I get that, I really do, but…

santaFrom about 23rd December, supermarkets start marking down their Christmas gifts in a last ditch attempt to shift them all before it’s too late. If you have anybody still to buy for (and nerves of steel) hold off until then and spend a couple of hours trawling as many supermarkets as you can.

Or not. It’s up to you. Forget I even mentioned it and go put your slippers on and your feet up. Much better plan.

18chocolat+lady+vintage+images+graphicsfairy005bg-150x150It’s Preserve Something week, by the way. Personally, at this time of the year I think that preserving your sanity is enough of an achievement, but if you want a really simple preserve, how about my freezable Whisky Truffles? Make the centres now, pop them in the freezer and you are ready to coat them straight from frozen as and when they are needed.

Free Thrifty Habits Planner For The Week Beginning Monday 21st December

Regularly, Consistently, Habitually Thrifty

Thrifty Habits PlannerWe all want to know how to save money. After years of frugal living and not-so-frugal living I have come to the conclusion that the answer to the question of how to save money is… regularly, consistently, habitually.  It’s not just what thrifty tips you take on board, or how many money-saving ideas you pin to a Thrifty Living Pinterest board – it’s how easy it is to make those money-saving tips into regular, almost mindless habits.  We all spend without thinking:  my aim on Tartan Thrifty is to save money without thinking, to make thrifty living second nature. Because, the less effort you put into living well for less, the more likely you are to keep it up.  So here is the Thrifty Habits Planner I print off and stick up in the kitchen each week – yours to download for free and customise to fit in with your life.  I hope it helps you become regularly, consistently, habitually thrifty too.

How To Use The Thrifty Habits Planner

Click here to download your free copy of this week’s Thrifty Habits Planner. You can look up each habit in The Thrifty Habits in the sidebar to the right for more information.

Look at the Weekly & Monthly/Annual Thrifty Habits.  Decide which day suits you best for each one and pencil it in on that day. When you have done it, tick it off.  Pause for a moment to enjoy the little fizz of smugness this creates.

Got any thrifty ideas of your own?  Add them – and remember to comment about them here so I can steal them admire your cleverness.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Then bin this week’s planner and come back to Tartan Thrifty for next week’s planner.  I will post it on Monday 28th December.

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyClick here to read my latest post How To Make Luxury Scented Candles At Thrifty Prices

December 14

Frugal Festive Family Fun

Keeping Outings Affordable At Christmas

We all spend without thinking. My aim on Tartan Thrifty is to save money without thinking – to make thrifty living second nature

You can download a copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner here or at the end of this post.

santa+painting+vintage+image+graphicsfairy3It’s time to Try Something New. Do you feel like the run up to Christmas is just one big spendathon? This is the perfect time to embrace free family outings – there are loads of free activities laid on in December! Google your local council to find out which activities they have laid on free of charge, or just key in your local area to see which businesses are also offering free events.

Don’t forget the kind of free activities that don’t need anyone else to organise them – take a walk in the countryside or a park and gather twigs, cones – anything you like the look of – to take home and turn into decorations. Or walk round town after sunset to enjoy the lights.

And don’t forget the Free Fun Golden Rule – never leave the house without drinks and snacks or you can guarantee you will be pestered into spending money on these. We are planning a trip to a Christmas Market this weekend, and will be taking a flask of warm milk, plastic mugs and a packet of chocolate buttons to stir into them and make ‘luxury’ hot chocolate outside. If I am really organised we might even have a can of whipped cream to top it with. Cold air, hot drinks, twinkly lights and rosy cheeks – better than a pricey cafe trip! Combined with the bits of Snowy Road that don’t make the cut for the school fayre, I reckon this will stop any pleading for gluhwein (Tartan Dad) or gingerbread (the Mini Tartans).

November 22

How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For (Around) A Fiver

How To Fill A Generous Stocking On A Miserly Budget

Christmas Stocking Planner 1starLast week I shared my (only slightly control-freaky) Christmas Stocking Planner. If you are the kind of person who finds staying on-budget with your kids’ Christmas stockings easy then well done you – I am not. That’s why I need the Planner. My Stocking Planner has allowed me to make sure that, no matter what our current money situation is, we fill our stockings at a price we can afford.

I promised I would come back this week and show you how the planner works, even if you can only afford around £5 a stocking. (If £5 is more than you can afford, take a look at 5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills.) Here’s how I got on.

How to fill a Christmas stocking on a budget

My (almost) £5 Christmas Stocking Challenge

Stocking Fillers For £1

selfie stickPop-Up Pirate from poundlandThe natural home of £1 gifts is Poundland,  so that’s where I went. I picked the Pop-Up pirate because it is big enough to bulk out the stocking nicely but I could have picked any of a whole range of toys or art supplies. For an older kid I could have picked a mobile phone cover, or a selfie stick.

Stocking Fillers For 75p

75p stocking fillersFor gifts at 75p Home Bargains came up trumps with small stationery sets, art supplies, sticker books and the odd small toy marked down. I reckon a sticker book and bubbles would keep a young child busy at least until lunch-time on Christmas day – and that’s easily worth £1.50 to me.

Stocking Fillers For 50p

50p Stocking fillers

At the 50p level I found an assortment of character surprise eggs in Home Bargains, along with chocolate Santa lollies. Aldi has nets of chocolate coins, Santas or snowmen at this price. I cheated by choosing a 2-pack of cute snail sharpeners from Poundland – one for each boy’s stocking makes them 50p each.

Stocking Fillers For 20p

20p stocking fillers Finding decent gifts at 20p was harder – in fact, I failed. I did manage to find several gifts at 25p though, so I wasn’t that far off. Aside from small bars and bags of high street chocolate, I picked a pack of four pull-back racing bugs from Poundland – working out at 25p each – to share between the boys. If you are filling several kids’ stockings, dividing Poundland multi-packs of small toys, play-dough , stationery, etc. would be an easy way to get your 25p toys. Don’t rule out second hand – I have picked up seemingly unread books at 5-for-£1 at school Christmas fairs, for example. If it looks new to you, it will be fine for a child.

Stocking Fillers For 10p

stocking fillers for 10pFinding gifts at 10p was MUCH harder. Your best bets are second hand, multi-packs and dumb luck – the Melting Zombies were reduced to 10p in B&M Bargains, for example. The hollow chocolate tree decorations from Home Bargains were a multipack that worked out at 11.5p each. Foil wrapping gives them child-friendly shininess and the hollow shape makes a small amount of chocolate look quite substantial.

How Do You Fill A Stocking For Barely A Fiver?

Money-savingPoundland, B&M Bargains, Home Bargains, Lidl, and Aldi are great for very cheap stocking fillers but most supermarkets will have good deals on novelty chocolate treats well under a pound. Sugar is cheap – the less you can pay the more likely you are to spend it on sweets. If you don’t want too much sugar in their stockings, aim to keep your 50p and upward gifts for non-food items that will see some use after Christmas Day.

Thinking outside the box is key – buy second hand, make your own, buy a pic-n-mix and then package up the individual types of sweets in tiny DIY containers, bake festive cookies and cake-pops, team up with a friend in the same position and split multipacks, etc.

Christmas-Fairy-Image-GraphicsFairy-597x1024The main thing I learned is that it is possible to do a stocking for around a fiver but it is not easy. I would struggle to put together a stocking on much less. If you are putting together a magical Christmas for your family  on a very small budget this year you have my sympathy and my respect, for you are working a miracle. Skint Mums And Dads Of The World, I salute you – yours is the true spirit of Christmas.

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

How To Fill A Bulging Christmas Stocking Without Busting Your Budget

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

1 Cheap Pic-n-Mix, 10 thifty Stocking-Fillers

 

November 14

How To Fill A Bulging Christmas Stocking Without Busting Your Budget

Christmas Stockings – A Thrifty Essential

christmas-santa-graphicsfairy010I still remember the outrage with which I greeted my mum’s suggestion that, since none of her “children” were even in their teens any more, we could, maybe, just not bother with stockings this year. I was horrified – didn’t she realise that the little bits and pieces in our stockings each year were part of the very fabric of Christmas? Hmmm?

the little bits and pieces in our stockings each year were part of the very fabric of Christmas

I was reminded of this ten years later when Tartan Dad had a year out of work and we were approaching a very budget Christmas. We did our sums and worked out that we had enough left to either buy each other a gift or a stocking – but not both. It turned out my thirty-something self was no keener to do without stocking fillers than my twenty-going-on-five self. So we ditched the “tree presents” instead – and had a lovely Christmas morning without them, opening our stockings.

santaThat year, more than ever, we needed the abundance of little fripperies that fill a stocking. We needed them because we were carefully, painstakingly sticking to our budget to avoid going into debt – we had enough of everything we needed but we did not enjoy an abundance of anything. Just for one day, we got to be greedy.

santa's faceWe needed those little stocking-fillers because, while our budget allowed us to save up for the big, important things we needed, it did not allow us to just buy little things that took our fancy as we walked round a shop. But our stockings were full of those – all the little things we had routinely denied ourselves every other day of that year.

santa chucklingAnd we needed those fripperies because, in a year of living sensibly, they were a little ray of silly, luxurious fun. Living on a budget is a serious business but sometimes we need to cut loose a little or we will lose the will to keep going.

Thrifty Christmas Stockings

ChristmasRetroShop-GraphicsFairy1No surprise then that I am still a huge fan of Christmas stockings. I am not a huge fan, though, of the way the cost of filling them can spiral out control faster than Prancer, Dancer and Dasher taking Santa on an emergency trip to Toys-R-Us. Some people spend more on Christmas stockings than I spend on the kids’ main presents. And when I say ‘some people’ I mean even otherwise thoroughly thrifty people. OK, I mean me. Readers I am Tartan Mum and I am an uncontrolled stocking-stuffer.

Christmas Stocking Planner 5Or I was, until three years ago when I finally found a way to take control of our Christmas Stockings. I used to just buy until I had what felt like enough stocking-fillers at what seemed like a vaguely filler-y price. Then I would get a shock on Christmas Eve when it turned out to be way too much to fit in our stockings. And an even worse surprise when I finally added up the total cost. I needed to set limits that gave us bulging stockings without stretching our budget to bursting point.  The Tartan Thrifty Christmas Stocking Planner was born.

The Stocking Planner – Christmas Under Control

A simple system for setting a budget, keeping to it, and building a well-balanced stocking

The Stocking Planner is a way to plan and keep track of our stocking-fillers so that I buy lots of very cheap fillers interspersed with a few more pricey items rather than lots of pricey items interspersed with the odd cheap one. It has stopped me buying too many gifts at too high a price, as well as making sure there is some variety in the value of the fillers in our stockings.

Christmas-Fairy-Image-GraphicsFairy-597x1024It has also helped me figure out what the appropriate budget for our family’s stockings is – because that’s different for each family. There is no government-approved minimum stocking spend – just what fits your lifestyle and finances. Think a little structure could help you stay on budget this year? Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Set A Top Spending Limit For Stocking Fillers

You need to decide what is the highest price you are willing to pay for a stocking filler. So – imagine you are shopping. Your kid* suddenly spots – and demands – a £50 doll’s house.  You have not budgetted for a doll’s house and £50 is a lot of money so you probably say no without a moment’s thought.

What if it was a £40 toy? Still no without needing to think about it?

What about £20? £10? A £5 plush toy? What if it was a £3 comic your kid was pleading for? A £1 sticker pack? A 50p novelty chocolate?

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.comSomewhere on that sliding scale there was  a point where you would stop saying no without thinking and would start to think – however fleetingly – about whether you could just buy it. So what was your threshold? What was the last point on that sliding scale where you wouldn’t have to think about whether that was too expensive or not?

That threshold price – that’s the price for the top level of your Christmas Stocking Planner. You are going to buy one item at that price for each stocking. Any gift that costs more than that gets parcelled up and put under the tree. Anything that costs less is a stocking-filler.

Step 2: Set the rest of the prices for your stocking-fillers

Each level should be cheaper than the one above it. So if your top price is £5, for example, that will mean that your next level is, say, £3, the one after that £2 and so on down to 50p. That gives you five little 50p gifts, four gifts at £1 each, three at £2, two at £3 and one at £5. That’s a total of 15 gifts for £23.50 per stocking. Click here to download a copy of the £5 planner.Christmas Stocking Planner 5

If you opt for my planner with a top price of £3, and a bottom price of 20p, your stockings are going to cost you £13 each. Click here to download a copy of the £3 planner.Christmas Stocking Planner 3star

If the most you can spend per item is £1, then your stockings are going to come to just £5.30 each. (Don’t believe you can fill a decent stocking for a fiver? Come back next week and see how to do it.) Click here to download a copy of the £1 plannerChristmas Stocking Planner 1star

If none of these plans suits your price range you can download a blank planner here to price up as you see fit.

All of my planners have space for 15 gifts. That number suits the Tartan Family, but if you and yours like a fatter stocking, adapt it by adding an extra row (or more!) at the bottom. Because the lower rows are the cheapest you will up the quantity without hiking the price greatly.

Step 3: Take A Reality Check

worried gift-giverYou need to check what the total cost of your stocking plan is and multiply that by the number of stockings you will fill. Now take a good, hard look at that figure – can you afford that this year? If the answer is yes then skip to Step 4. If the answer is no you need to decide carefully how much you can afford to spend on each stocking and reduce your top price and all the prices below it.  Your stockings will have just as many items in them; only the prices will be different.

Step 4:  Get Ready To Shop

Once you have picked the planner that suits your unique circumstances print one out for each person. Whenever you buy a stocking-filler, note it in the box for its price-point. That way you will be able to see at a glance whose stocking is full and whose still needs stuffing. And you won’t accidentally buy everything at your top price. (Been there a few times!)

Christmas Stocking Planner £5 part filled

That’s it. A simple system for setting a budget, keeping to it, and building a well-balanced stocking. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me!

 

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.com*What if you are filling stockings for adults, not kids? Imagine you are shopping and you spot something that [insert name] would just love. At what price would you buy it without hesitation? And at what price would you pause to think about it? That’s your threshold price – the top price you will spend on stocking fillers for adults.

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For (Around) A Fiver

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

1 Cheap Pic-n-Mix, 10 thifty Stocking-Fillers

 

 

November 22

How To Turn A £10 Bottle Of Aldi Whisky Into A Hamperful Of Tasty Treats

How To Turn A £10 Bottle Of Aldi Whisky Into A Hamper-Full Of Tasty Treats

How to turn a £10 bottle of Aldi whisky into a hamperful of tasty treatsI love Aldi. Decent products, limited range of choices so I don’t waste time making lots of decisions, and – of course – low prices. Their very basic £10-a-bottle whisky is a case in point. It’s fine to drink as a mixer (although you wouldn’t confuse it with a good single malt) and is great to splash into stews and gravies, making very cheap ingredients into a real treat. But this week I am going to try and see if I can turn my tenner into lots of lovely festive gifts. Here’s how.

 

 

One Cheap Whisky, Five Frugal Foodie Gifts

baileys fudgehomemade_irish_cream_18863_16x9I will start by making a batch of Irish Cream, using this recipe from BBC Food. Some of it I will bottle for gifts, some I will use to make Whisky Truffles and some I will use to make this divine Baileys & White Chocolate Fudge from Olive.   I love the way the Olive website has packaged this fudge, but can tell you that it also looks great cut into hefty chunks and popped into a cellophane bag. Especially if you add in a pack of cranberries at the final stir to Christmas it up a bit. It makes quite a soft, smooth fudge – if you want something more solid and grainy, beat for a few minutes after you switch off the heat.

whisky sugar rocksTo package with the fudge and some nice coffee, I will make a quick batch of these Whisky Sugar Rocks from A Subtle Revelry.  So simple, so decadent.  And so thrifty.

whisky bacon jamIf there is any left after that, I am planning to blow Tartan Dad’s mind on Christmas morning with a big jar of Eat Like A Girl’s Whisky Bacon Jam.  And if there’s any left after that…  I am going to kick back with a wee hot toddy. Cook’s perk.

 

Affiliate Links:  please note that this post contains affiliate links to products at Amazon UK.  This means that if you click on my link and buy the product, a small percentage gets paid back to me.  Alternatively, you can look up the same product on Amazon independently and none of your payment comes to me.  Or you can find a similar product elsewhere.  Or win maximum Thrifty Points by not buying anything at all….  It’s your money, your choice.

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

 

Gifts In A Jar – Snowy Road Mix

Make-Ahead DIY Whisky Truffles

 

November 17

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

Home-Made Stocking Fillers – Thrifty, Thoughtful, And Easier Than You Think

santa+painting+vintage+image+graphicsfairy3Stocking fillers don’t cost much – but they add up to quite an expensive part of the day’s gifting.  So making at least some of them will help with cutting the cost of Christmas.  (Santa does it every year – and he knows all about squeezed middles.)  And making DIY stocking-fillers is not only frugal – it’s easy! You don’t even have to have any particular creative talents: just time and access to the internet.

(If you do have lots of DIY skills, pop over to the Tartan Thrifty Christmas Board on Pinterest for inspiration.)

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers When You Have No DIY Skills - New Page

How To Make Christmas Stocking Fillers When You Have No Skills

1.  If You Can’t Make, Curate

hot choc conehot choc mug singleIt’s all about putting together things that other people have manufactured, like this hot chocolate set, from DesignMom or this Rudolph hot chocolate cone from Savvy Saving Couple. Much thriftier than paying a premium for a shop’s packaging.

2.  Download Free Printables

REINDEER-NOSES-websanta boxesTake advantage of some of the free printables out there to give ordinary sweets extraordinary packaging.  (Try googling “free printable” for inspiration.) Maltesers are far more festive when they are transformed into Reindeer Noses with this cute bag topper from cocoa+ella design. And cheap sweets from Aldi and Lidl will get the deluxe treatment in one of these free printable Santa boxes (minus the numbers) from Kathy’s Cottage.

santa paper dollsrobot magnetsMany professional designers put free downloads out there to attract customers.  This means you can find professionally produced free printables that make gifts in their own right too. Tiny Tartan has played all year with this magnetic robot kit from Crafts Unleashed. This year I will download a cute Santa dress-up magnet set from Altered Artifacts.  (I will need to remember to cut off the tabs though, as it is intended to be a paper doll set.) Magnetic printer paper is easy to use and very straightforward to cut out, being thicker than regular paper.

3.  Pay For Professional Printables

houses tapes
xmas carsIf you are willing to spend £3-4, visit Etsy for professional downloads like these ones from Claudine Hellmuth.  Once you have bought your download, it’s yours to print out as often as you want.  I will be popping ‘mix tapes’ of little chocolate bars and small stationery items into too-cool-for-school Tartan Boy’s stocking this year and a little house full of jelly babies into Tiny Tartan’s. Tartan Dad will get a car crammed with his favourite treats, and a couple of little extras in the luggage on top. But I will also be using them to give chocolates, gift vouchers and other small gifts to various relatives and friends – saving me far more than the £12 the downloads will cost me.

4.  Give Them A Kit And Make Them Do The Work Themselves

 

cookie dough rollscookie mixesIf you don’t feel up to baking treats that look professional, make them a kit to make their own.  (This scores double points:  not only does it fill up stocking space nicely, it gives them  something to do later in the holidays.)  Spend a few minutes layering up ingredients in a jar to give them their own cookie mix.  Or make a roll of cookie dough, so they can slice and bake cookies whenever they like. (Remind them to pop it in the fridge on Christmas morning though.)  These ones from The Charlotte Observer look good enough for an adult stocking too!

5.  Don’t Overlook The Skills You Do Have

crispy cake cottagesIf you are up to baking, you could make a regular shortbread dough but use festive cutters to transform it into Christmas cookies.  If you have to buy the cutters specially, clean them when you are done, wrap them up, and use them as a stocking filler with some playdough or Fimo.  Not keen on baking?  A little melting and stirring is all that’s needed to make these Crispy Cake Houses from Landolakes. Decorated with sweets and packaged in cellophane these would make a fantastic stocking-filler.  I know two boys who are going to be delighted to get one each this year…

mrtha stewart goldfish in a bagbath bombsIf you can heat a can of soup and pour it into a bowl, then you can heat a melt and pour soap base and pour it into a mould – or into a bag to make this goldfish soap from Martha Stewart.   If you have ever made a sandcastle, then you could also make simple bath bombs like these from Wayfair.

gingerbread playdoughrainbow playdoughsnowmaqn playdoughIf you can manage to make a white sauce then you will find DIY play-dough a breeze.  Make a rainbow of different coloured doughs like these from Artsy Fartsy Mama and pack them one on top of the other in a jar.  Or make peppermint-scented candy cane play-dough with The Krazy Coupon Lady.  I am taken with the simplicity of this little jar of sparkly white play- dough snow from The Crafted Sparrow. And I will definitely be making Tiny Tartan smile this Christmas with some cute gingerbread-in-a-jar play-dough from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle.

See?  You are closer than you thought to making memorable stocking-fillers for a magical Christmas morning, without much money! For more inspiration, please visit my Pinterest Christmas Board.  Follow me and I will follow you!

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

How To Fill A Bulging Christmas Stocking Without Busting Your Budget

How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For (Around) A Fiver

1 Cheap Pic-n-Mix, 10 thifty Stocking-Fillers

Gifts In A Jar – Snowy Road Mix

 

 

November 10

Who Is Going To Thank You For A Home-Made Christmas Gift?

Home-Made Presents – The Thrifty Gifter’s Crafty Money-Spinner

Antique-Sewing-Machine-Lady-GraphicsFairy-thumb-150x150‘Twas two months before Christmas, and all through the house were half-finished and carefully hidden DIY gifts, waiting to be completed.  Yup, it was beginning to look a lot like a home-made Christmas in Tartan Towers.  I logged on daily to the Home Made Gifts thread on Mumsnet, and shared ideas, advice and encouragement with an inspiring bunch of fellow-crafters.  Some of us just loved any excuse to make things.  Most of us were driven by the reality of being two years into a recession, trying desperately to reduce our gift budgets with a bit of seasonal DIY.  Come December 26th we all logged back on to report in triumph on how our gifts had been received.

Reader, the news was not entirely good.

worried gift-giverSome of our carefully crafted offerings went down well but others did not seem to be particularly gratefully received. Some recipients were polite but cool.  Some seemed to be downright insulted. One, on receiving a lovingly prepared hamper of hand-made goodies commented that it wasn’t fair that everyone else spent money, “while you just spent a bit of time in the kitchen.”  Having cheered the cook on through weeks in the kitchen we all felt her pain. Aside from being shocked at the appalling manners of some adults, it made me wonder – are there some people to whom you can never give a home-made gift?

Why Is A Frugally and Lovingly Home-Made Gift Not Always Welcome?

santa+painting+vintage+image+graphicsfairy3Some people saw a home-made gift as something lovingly made just for them – a token of our time and affection.  (I have noticed that this seems to apply particularly to the parents of babies and small children, for whom hand-made is often superior to shop-bought.)  But others saw it as a sign that their gift was inferior – neither an adequate exchange for the gifts they had bought for us, nor an acceptable expression of the high regard in which we held them.  And for some it was just… not what they would have chosen.

download (1)This set me thinking about a book I had come across back in the 1990’s – “Just What I’ve Always Wanted”.  It borrowed McClelland’s Three Needs Model of Human Motivation, from management training to argue that all people are driven by three needs, and each person has one need in particular that outweighs the other two. Working out which need motivates each of your loved ones is the key to working out what kind of gift to give them.

Who Is Going To Thank You For A Home-Made Gift?

McClelland’s Three Needs are:  Power, Achievement And Affiliation  Or to put it more simply, the need to get things done, the need to accomplish  and have this recognised and the need to be loved.  I think of these as people who need to climb a scale of achievement, people who need to fix things, and people who need to connect with others:  The Climber, The Fixer and The Connector.

Personality sorter to help you choose who to make a gift for

So if you are married to a Fixer, give him a fantastically complex tool box not a hand-knitted scarf. And if your mother-in-law is a Climber, forget the mug painted by her grandchildren and splash out on cashmere socks instead.  As for the mother-in-law who is a Connector… go to Photoshop and have a calender filled with photos of her family made up for her, marked up with all their birthdays and other special occasions.

The Good News Is,There Has Never Been An Easier Time To Hand-Make A Gift

Not everyone wants a home-made gift.  But that doesn’t mean nobody will.  Choose the right gift for the right person and DIY is still more thrifty, more personal, and often higher quality than bought.  And, thanks to the internet, sourcing cheap resources, accessing free instructions, and finding a wealth of inspiration is a doddle.

vintage image of woman with binocularsSeen a beautiful scented candle that’s out of your price range?  Google ‘how to make scented candles’ or ‘candle-making supplies’.  Want to make some truffles? Come back here in a couple of weeks, when I will be showing you a way to do that AND get ahead of the festive curve. Not even sure where to start? Go on Pinterest and enter “DIY Christmas Gifts”. While you are there, check out the Tartan Thrifty Christmas Board to get you started.

What will you be making this Christmas?  And more importantly, for whom?

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyMore Christmas Posts

 

 

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

Gifts In A Jar – Snowy Road Mix

 

How To Cut Your Gift-Buying Budget