Silly season about to grip the nation

We can’t believe the year is coming to an end so quickly: as one gets older, the years just seem to get shorter!

Christmas is almost here, again, and oily rag households are getting busy planning for the special day. Fortunately the oily rag community has lots of ideas to take the cost out of Christmas but leave in the fun. Here are some tips to unlock your creativity!

A Wellington reader writes, “I have recently been trawling galas, garage sales and op shops for Christmas pressies for the kids. You can buy fantastic gifts at very reasonable prices. I have bought all my nieces and nephews puzzles and games of their favourite cartoon characters for 20c each and they are still in almost new condition. My nieces are also getting jewellery boxes that were less than 50c each and my son is getting a huge box of Lego we found for $5. Cannot believe how little we have spent so far and the fantastic toys and gifts the kids are getting this year. Have also saved some presents for Birthdays too!”

Check out the number of credits you have on your reward cards. Redeem your points for products or vouchers and use them as gifts. This is a great way to save cash – and for some it’s like being a member of a Christmas club. The beauty is whoever receives a voucher can use it in the Boxing Day sales and make it go even further than it did the day before!

M.G. from Hastings says, “Our wider family got together and decided to limit Christmas gifts to a few dollars per person. That way nobody is too disappointed when they don’t get anything flash. So what can you give for a few dollars:

  • Photos with a message printed across them, from digital machines.
  • Photo frame, brought or home made.
  • Plants grown from seed or cuttings.
  • Home made biscuits, cakes, drinks, etc
  • Personalised pens made by printing names (or something more imaginative), on stickers in a small font. Also make a pen holder to go with them.
  • Glue give away fridge magnets to the back of a small notepad, maybe attach a photo or calendar to the top to personalise it. You now have a handy shopping list to keep on the fridge.
  • A family favourite is chocolate. Look for a mould that has about a dozen deep individual shapes. Slowly melt chocolate in the microwave to coat the sides of the shapes. When they have set fill with a cold gnache, made by heating 100mls of cream and dissolving 100grms of chocolate into it. This can then be flavoured with peanut butter, liqueurs or honey.
  • Kids love to get a plastic glass full of lollies or lolly kebabs.”
  • Have a “make or bake” Christmas – only exchange gifts that have been made or baked by the giver. Start making now – pottery, a painting, a calendar featuring family photos, or print a photo annual (the best photos for 2013 for example), make a family recipe book featuring each person’s favourite recipes, or record your favourite children’s book digitally and send to others to enjoy the story and your narration.
  • Have a “kids-only” Christmas. One reader says this year the extended family have agreed to only give presents to kids. They got tired of the pressure of having to buy stuff for their adult family members, and with things being a bit tight, they were looking for ways to make the fewer dollars in their pockets go further.

Please send in your favourite tips for frugal gifts so we can share them with others – remember at this time of year, every suggestion helps!