The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Saturday 8 February 2020

The Vicky Challenge. Saving on gifts.

Welcome to the Vicky Challenge this week! Our subject is saving on gifts.  Gift giving can be a costly area.  Apart from the usual Birthdays and Christmas some years there will also be babies born and weddings and all kinds of unexpected occasions.   If you have children they might be invited to a number of parties and this can really add to the cost of presents.  Many families also give gifts to school teachers and others who help in some way during the year... it can be a lot of gifts!!

Do you notice expectations have become pretty high?  I am hearing of parents giving teachers extravagant gifts, hugely expensive gifts for childrens parties... and even those throwing the party giving expensive gifts to everyone who attends!!  Then over the top wedding gifts!   Some include the expectation of getting a passport, time off work and a trip half way around the world thrown in!
What about the "can you chip in to buy so and so a new Mercedes" type gifts?  Ok, I exaggerate but employees chipping in to buy the boss a large gift...  what on earth!?  I am all for thanking people are showing appreciation but I don't think a large gift is necessary.  I am more the type to bake a cake or give them a carton of eggs hahah!

When I read Laine's Letters she spoke about this. It has always stayed with me... she said it is more important to stay in our budget than to buy a gift.  She wrote how she had a couple of dollars that she could use for a present and what she did with it to come up with something lovely.   This is still true.
A teacher is going to appreciate a letter of thanks for all they did for your child than another mug anyway.  What about having the kids make a gift and a card and give it themselves?  This will also mean more to most teachers I think.

As far as the world goes we are already a bunch of weirdos for loving our homes and homemaking!  So we might as well include the way we give gifts!  I have had surprising success with giving some farm honey,  a bunch of fresh Bay leaves, some parleys from my garden and some eggs.

Here are some of my tips to keep the cost of gifts very reasonable:

Establish a present cupboard, shelf, box... somewhere to keep what you make on find.  It can help to keep a list of what you have stashed away and who it is for etc.
Always watch out for gift wrap on sales.  I have found lovely gift wrap in Aldi and also their cards are nice!  In the after Christmas sales buy next seasons wrap. If possible buy plain colours like red, green, silver... as these can be used for any occasion not just Christmas.
Make your own cards and tags.
But a huge roll of brown paper and string. This looks so stylish, is so cheap and can also be decorated so many different ways.  And it covers all occasions.
Keep tape on hand.
Torn up pretty fabrics and tulle or lace look lovely.  I never buy bows etc.  I have used flowers, herbs from the garden, gum leaves and gum nuts...

Watch the sales for sweet gifts. After the occasion sales are great. i.e. one year after Valentines Day I found heart shaped cake tins for 50c.  they had been $12 as they were pretty pink.  I made many gifts with those by pairing them up with sprinkles, a kitchen towel and other items.

Consider buying bulk packs of items and dividing them up for gifts.  Once I bought towel sets on a huge bargain. Each bundle had 2 towels, 2 hand towels and 2 face washers.   I split it all up, added crochet edges and homemade soaps and got 8 gifts this way.  So many things come in sets and are a good deal.

Start making things using what skills you have and supplies you have.  Sometimes right under our noses we have possibilities!  The last two weeks I made sachets from pretty scraps I have.    If you would like to join a make your own gifts challenge come join  The Tuesday Afternoon Club.
Very often my gifts are partly something I made with a small purchased item added.   An example is I might give a packet of homemade greeting cards and tie it up with a pretty pen.  Or I might give homemade jams and herbs from the garden and add a basket as part of the present or some wooden spoons or some other kitchen item.

I am going to share some inspiration from Kelley.  She is one of the thriftiest and most generous people I know.   Kelley is very frugal with her sewing and makes her Grand daughters the most beautiful little dresses... usually from a pretty sheet or other fabric she salvaged from something else. Kelley's work has been featured many times especially in The Christmas Challenge.

This is from a recent email Kelley sent me, which her permission:

I’ve been making cardboard horses from Ann Wood’s free pattern. 

These were all made from tissue box cardboard, buttons and crochet thread. The next ones I’ll make with wire on their leg joints so they can move. What a cheap toy for a young child!

Mama and baby.

I finished both yo-yo quilt throws for our guest bedrooms.

The vintage sheet baby quilt audition (below) is now sewn together and is in the quilting stage.  Even the quilt back is a beautiful, heavy, cotton Martha Stewart bed sheet, white with yellow pinstripes on it. Mama is putting yellow in Baby’s nursery, too.

I’ll send you a picture when it’s done. ☺️

My older daughter gave me some chambray, enough to make two of these little dresses just the one shown.  All cut out, and one is 90% done.

This is a Sleepyhead Doll I made using a free pattern. I give these for first birthdays and my grandbeauties love them.

I gave her a miramar (Micronesian band of flowers for her head) instead of a hairbow.

Young Eloise, 2, got a kitchen set for Christmas, so Granny made her some felt cookies to “bake up.”

Chocolate Chip
Sugar with Nonpareils
Caramel Stars with Pink Frosting
Blueberry Linzer 
Peanut Butter 

And some over easy eggs!

Thank you Kelley for allowing me to share!!  
All these gifts are just beautiful and melt my heart but they would all be inexpensive to make.    I hope you feel inspired and encouraged to keep the cost of gifts under control and not feel pressured to overspend.

My Vicky Challenge was very good.  I am recording my savings in my savings book.  Already me new week is started so well!  But I will have to report on that next week!  Some weeks are just bigger than others.  But it all adds up!  And each new way we learn to save is a help.    I have mentioned before how prices are rising incredibly here.  Tonights news was more bad news on this.  I laid my hands on a marked down loaf of bread yesterday....marked down was $4.54.  That was from the original $7.58.  Now this was not fancy bread it was basic!  I left it behind!  The Australian economy is taking hit after hit at the moment and it shows on the grocery shelves.

How do you save in the area of gift giving?  Is this a part of the budget you could revise?  If you have any wonderful ideas for frugal gifts please share them!  Also if you would like ideas please ask!
Being early in the year we have time to put into making gifts and watching out for opportunities.  My present cupboard is already building back up.   I am always on the look out and trying to find things I can make using what I have.  Now this is also fun and a challenge! xxx


  1. At present I am trying to use up lots of stuff. I need to rebuild my gift supply and I will be using what I have to hand for most of it

    For my grown children I try to give monetary gifts. They have wants and needs. It is far easier to give them their choice unless I know that there is something they really want or need. Both my girls are marrying this year so I want to make them each a quilt for the their wedding gift. I had better start soon.

    1. I had a real find today. I bought a small blow up pool with 100 plastic balls reduced from $20 to $5. It will be tucked away for later. I have also remembered that I only have one Easter gift to buy. I had forgotten about the chocolates as I stored them somewhere cooler.

    2. Dear Suzan, I am doing the same as much as possible! Wedding quilts will be perfect gifts and you will be busy with two weddings in one year!!! I hope we get to see the quilts! With love

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Cheryl, Kelley is a very creative lady but also economical! xxx

  3. I actually don't give many gifts, I have honed it down over the years. But I ALWAYS use brown paper to wrap gifts, like you say there are so many ways to personalise it and people love it as there's something comfortingly old fashioned about it.
    I don't give many homemade gifts either as I don't like to inflict my crafting onto others! Silly I know, especially since I love to receive homemade cards and gifts.
    My Vicky challenge savings this week were very modest, but savings were still made so that can only be good. One of my savings was on a gift, my daughter decided what she wanted for her birthday( I had asked) and the day after she told me the company offered free mailing for the weekend, so you can bet I bought it.
    I cannot believe the price of a loaf of bread over there! I stalk my local Co-op for their lovely rye bloomers, which full price are £1.80, but I get them reduced to between 35p and 49p. I know I could probably bake my own cheaper, but this is without exception the nicest bread I have ever had and it lasts well, an important consideration when you live alone.
    Hope everyone has the best of weeks.

    1. Dear Su,
      If you enjoy making things think of making for hospitals, hospices, orphanages and so on. There is such need and they will appreciate your crafting.
      I love brown paper! Perfection! What a deal on bread you get! This is fantastic! All these things help. I freeze all bread in one or two slices. This means it lasts indefinitely. This can help when you live alone too.
      I hope the new week is going well for you. With love

  4. As for gift giving I find, as Annabelle pointed out, that always being on the lookout gives me the best results. That and paying attention to the person's likes and needs and then giving accordingly. Shopping after-holiday sales and the op shops where I often find brand new items for pennies on the dollar works well for me. My Vicky challenge this week wasn't too bad. Grocery savings $3.50. Instead of buying produce bags (still trying to cut down on plastics) I am using 2 mesh laundry bags when I shop. Savings about $6 I estimate. I trimmed my bangs so I can delay a haircut and I'm figuring half of a regular cut saved at $12. One of my favorite snacks is popcorn. I used to buy microwave popcorn but learned regular works just as well. Use a brown paper bag with a few tablespoons of popcorn and microwave as usual. Add a bit of melted butter and/or oil and season to your liking. Plain old popcorn is very inexpensive and it stores well. The quilt top my friend asked me to machine stitch for her I think I can count as a savings this week. She paid me $25 which was totally unexpected and she would not take no for an answer! I have decided to total these savings up each week and put them in a separate place. There should be a pretty good stash at the end of the year. Sure appreciate all the tips I'm getting here. Have a great week.

    1. pamintexas,
      Whenever I make any money or earn gift cards through surveys I add those into my totals. It is extra money in our household so I darn sure count it.

    2. Dear Pam, I have an organiser/diary which I write in daily and it keeps me on track. In the back I have a page where if I get an idea for a gift for someone I write it down. When talking to someone I listen for ideas. And often get them! People mention liking something or maybe they are admiring something... these are clues. If I dont write them down I might forget. This has been so handy and people are amazed when you remember something they mentioned months ago!
      It is wonderful you earned that $25 and you deserved it! As the weeks go by I hope you find many more tips here. You had a very good week! With love

  5. Dear Annabel
    Your blog is so inspiring. Thanks to you I make all of my own cards, have a permanent gift cupboard and never buy a cake. I make table runners, napkins and tablecloths from remnants. I don't have a sewing machine but I find sewing by hand relaxing. I've used lots of your ideas and especially find gifting using bits and bobs from different things makes for a good gift package.
    I'm going to try sewing veggies between my flowers in the garden. I read a lovely post about your aunt who does that. We live in the south of England and our garden is not big but this could work for us.
    Thank you. It is so lovely to read such positive posts.
    Blessings to you and your family

    1. Dear Sally,
      Thank you so much! And for telling me what you are doing as that is so encouraging to me! Your gift cupboard is like money in the bank, like a pantry is! I am watching all the time for great bargains to add to what I make also.
      I really like to mix herbs, veggies and flowers. If you have roses for instance you can plant herbs underneath very well. It is amazing what you can add to little gaps and get a great harvest. Both fresh and then dried herbs are very good.
      Also with a small garden go up! Train things on fences and up plant stands or an arch way etc. You can grow so much more this way.
      Thanks so much Sally! With love

  6. Dear Annabel and Kelley,
    Thank you for sharing Kelley's creativity. It always amazes me what one can do with things that are on hand or thrifted. Seeing an item not for what it is but what it can become is truly a gift.

    In the gift giving area I make most things myself. Learning new skills has allowed me to have a variety of things for gifting. I also like to use coupons from craft stores for supplies for next to no expense for the item.

    For the Vicky Challenge we didn't spend any money this week because we didn't need anything. I baked 2 dozen almond flour scones and all meals were prepared at home. I made valentine an birthday cards from my supplies on hand. I sent in some pictures to you and I hope you received them. Wishing everyone a good week ahead. Blessings, Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie, I am sorry I am so slow to reply! Your Valentine Days cards are just gorgeous and they are keepsakes. I love them! They would be a joy to make too. Baking is a big saver especially with GF products which are all a premium price at the stores. Learning new skills has definitely helped me with gift giving and given me more confidence I think too. With much love

  7. What a pretty post! Thanks Kelley for sharing your work, it is lovely! Would you mind sharing a link to the doll pattern if you have one please? Even as an adult I love felt food lol. Annabel, your point about cakes is so right, I have never found a person who didn't enjoy a home baked cake! We gave them to our kids rugby coaches last year and the only complaint was that they had to share them lol.

    I only really started a gift box last year, but I absolutely love having one. I just added loads of kids toiletries that were hugely discounted after Christmas. Things like Disney character bubble baths etc. None are Christmas themed so they can be used throughout the year. I also find it useful when we are asked to donate items for raffles or similar at school. I definitely agree that combining a few items together makes a lovely gift.

    I make less gifts than I used to now, and am very selective about who I give them to. I'm sure others can relate to giving a handmade gift to someone who just doesn't appreciate it. Your heart sinks and it can be really embarrassing. So I tend to make things for my own children, and friends that I know will enjoy them. Funnily enough though, one year I cross stitched a picture for my brother from one of his favourite movies. Hardly a traditional cross stitch! He would have to be the least likely person to appreciate a handmade gift, but he told me I could just make him one each year from different movies - go figure!!

    My biggest savings this week were the gift items and some great specials on groceries like butter and mince. Another huge saving I am making at the moment is petrol, because we are walking everywhere. I was having to fill up my car every 10 days previously, if I could stretch it to 2 weeks I was thrilled. I last filled up mid-January and I've only used a quarter of a tank. Huge savings there, as petrol is terribly expensive here.

    I'm really enjoying these posts Annabel!

    Jen (NZ)

    1. Dear Jen, I will see if I can find a link for you, I will ask Kelley. I love the felt food too!
      I think like a pantry a gift cupboard is a bit like having money in the bank. Also you would probably have a lot of kids parties you need gifts for!
      I think you did great with the Disney toiletries. These are the deals to watch for then stock up on! I agree we have to pick our targets and what we give. I do find cooking a success when a crafted item might not be.
      It is great to be able to walk so many places! That is so good. Maybe you need a shopping trolley on wheels so you can carry loads and walk to get things!? This sounds a huge saving and a bonus of living closer to everything! With much love

  8. Hi Annabel ,can you give me any ideas on wedding gifts. The young couple have asked for just our company but I would like to acknowledge the occasion with a small handmade gift. Any ideas?

    1. I'm not Annabel, but one of my favorite gifts to give for a wedding or wedding shower is a recipe book where I fill out some of the pages with my family's favorite recipes and there are lots of other pages for them to fill out as they go through life. I've found these kinds of recipe books at discount stores for just a few dollars. I pair the book with a nice bowl, kitchen utensils or tea towels from the same discount store, so the whole thing costs less than $15.00 and is a nice, personalized gift.

    2. Dear Barb, I agree with Farm Quilter... a family recipe book is fantastic and beautiful. I would include family photos and hand writing if at all possible. Another is finding a hand written recipe by Grandma or Great Grandma if possible and getting the recipe (or do several) on to kitchen towels. There are places online that will do this for you. I love this! I hope that helps. With love

  9. Annabel I started a present cupboard a few years back when you had a monthly show and tell on this page. I had always put things away for gifting, but this was usually started around September. It felt good to be getting things done early even then. Last year I made a lot and put it away. The trouble is I put so much away, I had no idea what I had. I got to Christmas thinking all was well only to find I had not made enough male gifts. This year I am keeping an inventory. This way I know what is coming in, and going out, all year. I am also adding notes to the inventory. These notes are based on things mentioned by the people I gift to. I am then making things they want/need and in the colours they like.
    Kelley's work is just beautiful. I have added notes to the gift cupboard re the felt food. I know the little girls will love this. Now I will keep an eye out for little people cookware. The felt food is such a simple thing to make but such a fabulous idea.
    My present cupboard is a shoe hanger in a wardrobe. It does not take a lot of space. It is so worth the effort to set up a small space dedicated to the gifts that you make or purchase.
    To those who feel the need to gift to their children's teachers, don't. If your child had a connection with their teacher get them to write a letter or card to that teacher. Have little ones make a painting and pop this into a cheap frame. I was a teacher for over 30 years. I don't remember the gifts. I do remember the personal notes, cards, pasta necklaces and paintings.

    1. Dear Jane, Your present cupboard has been amazing! I have seen you give some incredible homemade gifts, like the wedding quilt!
      Thank you for your advice for teachers! I agree! Jane I also need the inventory and more male gifts.
      I find a lot of joy in the gift cupboard and the savings are huge. I think when we plan ahead this is where we can really do well! With love,


  10. Our 28 grandchild is due in June, last year all of the grandchildren and their parents received a decorated bath towel. So 39 bath towels
    The problem is that most of them live interstate and postage is a killer for parcels
    So as a
    Consequence I am rethinking our gift giving but just money when they all
    Love what Ma and Pa make them
    Christmas we just give a family present of cash

    In June

    1. Dear Chookasmum, I am amazed you will have 28 Grandchildren! That is just wonderful. That was a great effort on the bath towels! Yes postage is a killer. I have same problem. I hope you can come up with small to post but lovely gifts! With love

    2. I don't have 39 bath towels to send, but my son and daughter-in-law live 525 out-of-the-way miles from us. Any time they are coming up here, we are going down there, or my son's best friend is going down and back for a visit, I wrap up the next gift and it is hand-carried. My daughter-in-law got her birthday gift 6 weeks early last year, but she had to wait to unwrap it. Assuming some of those 28 grandchildren might live near each other and see each other, you might be able to off-load quite a few gifts this way!

      If you sew, another thing you might consider is pajama pants for everyone. I made them for my daughter and daughter-in-law last Christmas. Since most people seem to sleep in T-shirts, and pajama tops are a lot harder to make than pants, I bought coordinating T-shirts on sale at a craft store, but that really isn't necessary. My daughter is disabled and often relies on labels to tell her what is the front and back, so I usually sew a piece of bias tape into the back of the elastic casing.

    3. Dear Anabel as yet I have not come up with anything but the thinking cap is on,
      Today I went to one of my classmate's funeral it was a lovely simple service just as he wanted.
      A also called on a young man whose wife was killed in an horrific accident wene the were about 1/2 an hour from home after their holidays with their young family
      I wanted to do something for them
      , they had bought a family member's house years ago, so I went and introduced my self and gave him eggs and tomatoes and cucumbers from out garden, spent a lovely 10 mins or so chatting to him lovely young man and so sad.
      It was so nice to have something that we had here at home and not go and buy the obligatory flowers or take a lasagne
      so sad

  11. Like your gift of eggs, my favorite is a fresh, warm loaf of bread. My cost is 40 cents and everyone loves it. Our bread is one way we save a lot of money at home too. I don't know of any place I can buy a one and a half pound loaf of fresh bread for 40 cents.

    1. Freshly baked bread is a beautiful gift! Baking is always good. People love it! Good idea Lana! xxx

  12. Thank you Kelley for sharing your lovely work! The dolls and felt food are so cute I have one granddaughter who would love the food. And the horses oh my!
    Your weeks are always so productive. It was a good one here too. We are still working on the basement and laundry room. Neither will be pretty, but one thing at a time.
    This week Rick traded 6 dozen eggs for a big truck full of wood. That saves us over $100 in wood. We get a lot of wood, but we use it so it's always welcome. I didn't go anywhere this week so spent nothing on gas and all meals and treats made at home.
    Our ladies gave us 4 dozen eggs. $8
    I got 2 more perfume samples and the one alone sells for $5.
    I got a free container of Roc retinol capsules to try. $32
    I got 2 free cushions for out door chairs to try. $30
    We got $98 in free over the counter medical supplies so we will be giving the medical pantry a boost this year.
    Rick saved $30 on clearance items at Lowe's he spent less than $10 and it's all things we will use soon.

    I have totally changed the way I gift over the years. Now I love to give gifts of food or other household items. Part of what I can each year is gifts or goes to those who have a need. I do try to fit the gift to the person though. Good clearance finds I love adding to the gift trunk. I agree that gifting and the expectations of gifts have gotten out of hand and only adds stress to a holiday or event that should be enjoyed. I started out by giving everyone fair warning that we had cut up the credit cards and started paying off the debt so we would be doing Christmas on a budget. Only one person was nasty about it.

    1. Dear Vicky, Thank you! You have great savings and you are consistent! I decided that consistency is one of the greatest things to success.What good savings. It was great about the wood!
      Also the medical supplies. Strike now and get some of the things that are likely to become very hard to get...
      Good on you for paying off debt and getting rid of the cards! Best thing ever! With love

  13. Garden Pat was having trouble getting her comment to post so here it is:
    t’s midnight here so my “tech support” guys are both asleep so trying to post from the computer wont happen until they can walk me through it!

    Here are my comments:
    “I love having a gift cupboard! It has saved me SO much money! Having a large family, we halve had some Christmases that we made every one of the 50 presents for our 11 children, their spouses and our grandchildren!
    This week I made a scrappy lap size quilt to add to my gift cupboard for a time in the future Then I made another large lap size quilt as a wedding gift for a family friend. It was made without any out of pocket cost. The groom’s mom is a dear friend and our children grew up together. I made a baby quilt for one of his sisters about 3 years ago and also four for his brother’s children as they were born. When a younger sister had a baby last year and I brought her a quilt, she hugged me and told me that she had been hoping for a “Pat Lewis” quilt for her little one. So I am fairly confident the son who is a groom next week will be equally gracious! Here’s a photo of the finished quilt: I can’t attach a savings value on these because I don’t know. But I DO know that if I just went to Target store to buy a present that I would have spent close to $50 because they are close friends! So these 2 quilts have saved me $100!
    Here are 2 more baby quilts I made at home and gifted to two other babies: and
    Using bits of fabrics that I already have at home as well as my supply of all the other materials I need saves me both time and money! My daughter and I pooled our money to buy a used longarm quilt machine- APQS Lenni. They have a spreadsheet that shows the point where the return on our investment has been satisfied. For the amount we paid, it would require us to quilt 1 bed size quilt every 3 weeks to have earned or saved the value of the machine in 1 year’s time! We have been quilting more than 1 per week!
    Dave has also used his talents to create gifts. This is a cutting board he made that will be a housewarming gift to his former boss’ daughter and son-in-law. He made it using tools he already has. He did buy black walnut for this since it is 18” x 24” . The wood cost $40. But his boss paid him $150 for the cutting board!! It turned out so well that he plans to make one out of cherry hardwood that he already has in his wood stash as an additional gift to our friend’s son who is getting married next weekend! There is no way we could go out and spend the comparable amounts for these kinds of gifts, but by having learned some skills and invested in some tools over the years as well as always being on the lookout for free or great deals on materials to add to our storage, we can give personalized gifts that we can be proud of.

  14. Part two of Pats comment:

    I got a great deal on salted peanuts a couple months ago- a 30 pound box for $10! So I vacuum sealed them in my extra quart mason jars and added them to gift baskets filled with homemade candies, cookies for gift giving at Christmas! The baskets/ plates of goodies were thrift store finds for 25 - 50 cents each!
    I can a lot and often gift my friends new things that I’ve made. As I’ve done that, people have gifted me with literally hundreds of canning jars because they “know I’ll use them”!
    Other things I’ve done this week for the Vicky Challenge are: I bought 15 five pound bags of chopped onions for $1/bag! I filled my dehydrator and also have frozen bags of them, packaged with the amount (2 cups) that constitutes 1 large onion. This will make it convenient to use when I don’t have fresh onions ! This time of year, onions are typically 89- 99 cents a pound! So that saved about $262!! That’s crazy!!
    I found 5 boxes of fruit and nut snack bars clearance to $1.39 each rather than their normal $2.99 each. Before I got to the checkout, I had a prompting to look on the store app on my phone and discovered they had a digital coupon for $1 off per box, up to 5 boxes maximum! So my 5 boxes cost just under $2 total rather than almost $15!! I have refrained from buying groceries during all of January and continuing now into February, except for extremely good deals on things we use regularly. This means eating from scratch at home! I estimate that this past week, even with what we spent on the produce a grocery sales, we still saved $40 of our normal budget without even factoring in the value of the meals/snacks, etc. that we have made from what we had on hand!
    I had a $50 Visa card from our electric company for replacing our old fridge with an energy saving one so I used it to buy a HUGE box of toilet paper from Amazon! That built up our toilet paper inventory just as it was getting lower!
    I am convinced that DIY and saving money don’t need to make you feel deprived! In fact, for us, it’s kind of liberating to let us get creative!”

    1. Dear Pat thank you! I love all your tips and ideas. You inspire me every week with the amount you achieve. With much love

    2. Pat,
      I 100 percent agree! I do many of the same things Lol except quilt and we don't feel deprived in any way either, even when we were paying off all of our debt we didn't. We can really get ahead by looking at things a little differently and being creative in our endeavors

  15. I love having a gift closet/drawer/cupboard.
    Right now I have Valentine gift for the little grands that I got on sale. (Lego-type people and a chew toy for the baby.) I found Children's Outdoor Folding Chairs on clearance and saved $6.50 each on the 3. I also found Under Armor fleece hoodies for the big kids, saving over $71 for the 5. These savings allow me to send gifts to them throughout the year instead of just on birthdays and Christmas.
    Homemade gifts: This past Christmas I put together gift bags of my home preserving (jams, relish, pickles) along with sale prices meat sticks for the men in my office. They all commented favorably on them. Other years I've made them each a batch of Chex Party Mix. Those they all loved.
    I don't have time to make as many gifts as I'd like, nor cards but I have in the past and I'm hoping to get back to that after Farmer clears his gift-making from my room. He is making sit-in rocking horses for the little Granddaughters. He has made each of the grandkids something (mostly these horses but littlest grandson got a rocking tractor). Farmer's Dad started this tradition with Farmer & his sister and carried it on to our sons. I love that Farmer is keeping it alive with our grandies. Just as I am making birth quilts for all of our biological grands and will be making graduation quilts for each one (first graduation in 2 years!)
    I only have gifts of teaching from my grandmothers. One taught me about the worth of family, gardening & sewing and the other taught me farmwife skills and crocheting. I treasure these internal gifts as much as physical gifts.

    1. Dear Kay,
      I love your gift savings and the things you got for the Grandkids!
      Oh I love the rocking horses and rocking tractor! Gifts like this would be hard to beat and actually an heirloom!
      The things your Grandmothers taught you are priceless! With love

  16. Totally agree about expectations. When did it become expected that dinner guests would also get a gift? Time was, the meal itself was the gift, and guests would bring one for the hostess.

    I would love a link to that doll pattern. They are just adorable but I can only find it as a paid pattern. My nieces would love those.

  17. We are in our 70s. We're small family with 2 adult children (one is disabled) and no grandchildren. We have always just given gifts within our family. The children of most of our friends had flown the nest or gotten married before we met them, so we don't get invited to a lot of weddings or baby showers. Still, last May I started making a gift-a-month. Everyone got at least one homemade gift--either food or simple sewing--for Christmas and their birthday. They usually get 3 gifts, some old, some new, some homemade. I make sure they love the gifts I make because I pin a big $ gift card to each one, LOL. (If I gave casual gifts, they wouldn't get the GC).

    My gift-a-month for January was rice bags that can be heated in the microwave and used like a heating pad or hot water bottle. I made 3 for us, 3 for gifts, plus the bag (minus the rice) for a friend to give her father. The only thing I had to buy was 4 lbs. of brown rice for each, at a cost of about $2.50. I haven't started on February yet, but I'm planning to make scrunchies for my daughter's birthday later in the year. A quilter friend is contributing scraps of seasonal and holiday fabrics. No idea what for March, but I might make bath bombs again. My daughter and daughter-in-law loved the ones I made last year, and I have all of the ingredients.

    I have only basic cooking and sewing skills and I can knit dishcloths....

    I only started making some of my gifts about 3 years ago and gift-giving is so much fun...for me. As long as I keep the gift cards coming, I'm sure everyone will love what I give them, LOL.

    A tip for gift-giving--look at yard sales for partial rolls of gift wrap for next to nothing. Estate and moving sales are the best. It's not uncommon to get a whole box for $1.

  18. Good morning,
    Love reading all these creative things.
    It’s been a difficult winter here with family health issues but everyone is doing better so I hoping to have a more “Making stuff” spring
    Hugs to you Annabel ❤️

  19. I make pretty much all my gifts now, and I am trying to get into card making as well.

    God bless.

  20. Dear Annabel,

    Of course you know I love this post! Everything you say is so spot on, and the present cupboard idea is fantastic. I count charity things as part of the present/gift cupboard, too, and right now I am alternating making something for charity with something for a birthday or Christmas. I also agree with GardenPat, that doing gifts this way just makes us more's so fun. I love Kelley's handmade gifts...esp. the food! Jane is right, keeping an inventory is key. I have ended up with too many of the same thing, with everyone that would want one already taken care of, and then not enough of something that would suit someone else. It's like any other stockpile, if you don't use it/give it, it's just wasted money/time. (Except for the entertainment value in making it, of course!! :)) I like Vicky's statement that she has changed the way/or what she views as gifts, so that most of it is food or something practical. And I also appreciate the ideas for easy-on-postage gifts. Most of our extended family is far away, so we do not exchange gifts for birthdays among siblings and our kids, but we do send something to our just has to fit in an oversized envelope vs. a parcel. At Christmas we sometimes send a parcel, but try to fit in little things for those who might live close to the person we're actually sending to, and then they hand out presents to others. (Rather than sending to multiple addresses if they all live close.)

    My eyes just about popped out of their sockets at the price of bread where you are! Now mind you, I don't buy bread, but I'm pretty sure it's nowhere near that expensive here!

    I finished painting the bathroom door and frame, so saved big $$ on hiring that out...paint was on hand from a different reno. Made a scarf and a watchcap for next year's Christmas Shoeboxes to Missions to Seafarers. Cut out a shirt for myself. Nursed all sorts of sick people in our house for days on end!!! Sold lots of eggs and made lots of cookies, bread, etc. Didn't get as much done as I had hoped due to all the nursing, but should be better for next week!

    Lots of love,

    Jen in NS

  21. The felt food is so cute. My daughter bought some off Amazon and it is not cheap. My grandmother used to take two new washcloths and use a paper pattern to make a glove and sew it together. She would put a bar of Baby Soap in it. The mothers all loved it. She would also take cotton diapers and add a little ribbon or lace and make burp rags. Inexpensive but practical gifts. I admire you skilled bread bakers. That is such a lost tradition, but such vital skill.

  22. Hi Annabel,

    Even though it is March, I am already thinking ahead for teacher gifts this year. My youngest son is in preschool now (the year before big school) and that alone has bumped up my teacher gift tally to eleven, between my three kids!

    Last year my school aged children were asked to contribute $50 each to buy a class gift for their teachers. Each of my older children had two teachers last year so that alone would have been $200 to come up with, right before Christmas time. It was so above our budget and I really didn't have peace in my spirit about it. As you mentioned, expectations are increasing at an astounding rate and I believe these expectations totally miss the point of gift giving!

    I talked about it with my kids and we discussed all of our options. I explained that if we went down the $50 route, another child's parent would be pooling the money and shopping on behalf of the class. My kids thought that took away from the joy of gift giving & I was so happy they came to that conclusion themselves.

    We ended up giving the four teachers a beautiful bunch of flowers each from our garden, beautifully wrapped & finished off with gorgeous ribbon. The kids were so proud to deliver the bunches to their teachers personally and they were so appreciated. I had just finished my Floristry course so it was a great project to put all my skills to the test.

    This year I am planning on giving the teachers a small pot plant each. Kmart have some lovely on trend pots for $2 each. So I am going to buy some next pay & the pay after and I will be striking a succulent from my garden in each one. They will happily live on my kitchen windowsill until Christmas time so they will be well established, thriving and looking their best at gift giving time. I'm happy with eleven gifts costing me $22. And best of all my kids will get enjoyment out of nurturing something that they later get to give away.

    Thank you for your blog Annabel, it is a treasure.

    Jodie x


I really appreciate your comments thank you! The aim of my blog is the be a place of encouragement and happiness. Very rarely is anyone rude. Actually only twice so far! If you post a rude or aggressive comment I will read it but not publish it, thanks for

Spam is never published... if you are advertising a product or selling website your comment wont be published. I am inundated with stuff about drugs, horses and weird things! I am not going to publish this stuff! Thank you.