Last year, I gave my grandparents a 16" x 20" photo of a picture I took of my two girls in a meadow. I bought the frame on sale for less than $20, and the print itself was only $14. They absolutely loved it, and it now hangs in their living room. This year, I'm going to give them an updated photo of their great-granddaughters to keep them updated! Most of my gifts last year were photo-based, and I plan to do the same again this year.
— Teresa of Fridley, Minnesota
I am buying everyone on my list a magazine subscription. Everyone has to give me the names of two or three magazines they like, and then I will pick one for them, and that's it! We usually buy three to four gifts per person, and it continues to add up, and we are not doing that this year. Everyone is getting a magazine subscription!
— Kim of Algonquin, Illinois
This year, instead of shopping, wrapping and working during the holidays, we are surprising our three kids with a room at a downtown Chicago hotel the week after Christmas! We are going to spend a few days together and give the gift of time! The hotels are discounted because it's slow after Christmas. We bought a block of tickets to see the musical Dirty Dancing with friends and co-workers—tickets are less expensive when you buy a block. Hopefully, I will be saving as much as I think I am. On paper it looks good, and I sure am looking forward to reconnecting with my family!
— Sally of Lombard, Illinois
I have a cookie baking party around the first of December, invite a couple friends and have them bring a couple premade cookie dough recipes and cookie sheets. We drink wine and bake all day! When we are finished, we split the cookies up and have five to seven different kinds. They go straight to the freezer in ziplock bags. When needed, I take the cookies out of the freezer, let them defrost, put them on holiday plates I buy at the 99-cent store and give a plate of cookies as a gift.
— Penny of Sonora, California
We decided that instead of giving special gifts, which can cost $100 per child, we are going to give each of our three children a gift of our time. We are going to pick out a special outing just for them, and we are calling them Mommy/Daddy dates. Our oldest is a 7-year-old ballet student. For her, we are getting tickets to the local professional ballet company's spring ballet. Our middle daughter has never been to the Build-a-Bear Workshop, so for her we are giving a gift certificate to the store and the excitement of a special shopping trip with Mom and Dad. Our youngest daughter loves Chuck E. Cheese. For her, we are giving tokens [to play games at the restaurant] and a day just for her. We estimate we'll spend $120 on their gifts versus $300 as we did in the past.
— Dana of Holland Patent, New York
This year, in an effort to minimize costs, I am planning an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas! I am making beautiful gifts by hand that I will share with my family. All gifts shall be inspiring, practical or simply delicious. The gifts will include crafted, wooden scripture boxes with handmade laminated scripture cards inside. I also plan on making homemade shea butter lotions with pure essential oils. For my neighbors, I will prepare baked goods. Lastly, I will be reintroducing the fine craft of letter writing by sending Victorian-style holiday correspondence cards (designed using my home computer) to send letters and/or poems to both family and friends, wishing them the very best for a happy and healthy holiday season!
— Barbara of Stratford, Connecticut
This year, I reminded my children that Santa is not the only one who gives to them and that they really need to pay attention to how much things cost before they start asking for them. So, they are going to rewrite their holiday wish list with prices beside each item. I have found that a lot of times, once my children realize how much things cost, it changes their opinion of whether they really want it. I don't believe putting a price tag on Christmas takes any of the spirit out of it. It just creates an opportunity for you to really talk to your children about what is important at Christmas. Children need to be educated on how money works. We will start looking for sales on the toys that they want. We can see how much we can save on each item and maybe even save our relatives and Santa some money that they can use for others!
— Jessica of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
This year, my husband and I plan to give our children and six grandchildren a small gift and a savings bond each. Since they all live out of state, shopping will be easy and there will only be minimal postage. If it works this year, I hope to continue for birthdays also!
— Sharon of St. Louis, Missouri
Instead of giving those "friend gifts" that we all buy during the holidays, I made lots of small donations to local charities in the name of each friend and sent the friends a card telling them what they gave to make the holidays happier for someone. I have a friend who is an artist, so I donated art supplies to a local shelter. Another pal loves warm nightgowns and socks, so I bought those and gave them to a battered women's safe house. My friends were pleased that I thought of who they were and what they enjoy and helped others enjoy those things too. I didn't spend a lot of money, but I think I made a lot of people a little happier during the holidays...including myself!
— Patti of McKinleyville, California
Instead of spending money on presents for our daughter, we will be starting a new holiday tradition of "stocking-only" gifts. Those gifts will include homemade candy and necessities like a new toothbrush, toothpaste and fun homemade bath soaps. This economy is the perfect excuse to start frugal traditions while celebrating the true reason for the season! Most of the money we save from cutting back on gifts will go directly to blessing others through charities!
— Katherine of Gainesville, Texas