Have a Happy Frugal Christmas!

Don’t know about you, but as we tear November from the wall calendar, a sense of foreboding sets in – December: Christmas only weeks away! Frugality often requires planning, and three weeks or so doesn’t seem like enough time. Never fear, oily rag suggestions are near!

Here are some ideas for a great frugal Christmas.

One oily ragger writes, “During the year I have accumulated lots of reward points which I am giving as gifts. In addition to the vouchers, I will make a food item for each person so they will get a edible handmade gift, and a recycled card. That’s what I call a frugal and stress free Christmas!”

We reckon gift cards are a great way to go, especially when a suitable gift for that someone is not obvious. The great thing is that many oil raggers have squirreled away reward points during the year, which can be converted to gift cards. So no cash outlay, and the lucky person receiving the card can use them in the post-Xmas sales to maximum advantage. It makes so much sense. Just a reminder that you need to allow a week or two for the vouchers to arrive in the post – so get redeeming!

We have also been having a think about what to do with all of those presents that are simply not loved. In days gone by the prezzie currency used to be a bottle of wine – if not wanted it was simply given to someone else. Nowadays we notice that fewer people are drinking alcohol, so wine doesn’t always make the grade when trying to make an impression – unless it’s really expensive and the person receiving it knows it’s expensive! We think the new currency is a bottle of olive oil – a good quality cold-pressed boutique variety, produced locally. Locally produced honey is another great idea, and, even better, honey comb – yum!

But here are some suggestions to deal with the problem of unwanted presents:
• Sell them and save the money or use it to buy something you need.
• If you do give the present to someone else be careful that you don’t give it to the person that gave it to you! The easiest way to keep track is to keep the card it came with – or write the name of the giver on the parcel.
• Return the gift or exchange it at the store, but you will need the receipt or an exchange card.
• Donate the gift to a relative/friend or to a charity shop.
• Use it for some other purpose. For example, if someone gives you an unusual shirt you could put in the “fancy dress” box.
• Swap the gifts with others who also received “unwanted” presents. Here’s an idea: Christmas swap meetings – everyone gathers around on Boxing Day and exchanges stuff they don’t really need!
We have a challenge for you. Do you have any ideas for generic gifts that suit the person who is impossible to buy a present for? The oily rag community and millions of frantic Xmas shoppers would love to hear from you! We will post your suggestions on our oilyrag.co.nz website as soon as we receive them!

One great idea is a basket of fruit and veges – and eggs if you have hens or ducks – from your own backyard? Add some home-baking, and, hey presto, you have a perfect gift!

Annual report. We are pleased to say 2018 has been another bumper year for frugality. We have received many hundreds of tips from readers and the Oily Rag Club now has over 7,000 members. It’s amazing that people have been practising frugality since the beginning of civilisation but oily raggers are still able to come up with new and interesting ways to turn penny-pinching into serious savings. On a personal front, we have been busy planting more fruit trees and tending to the garden, which is productive all year round. We are also figuring out ways to recycle building materials and refresh furniture because we are in the middle of a house renovation which is a challenge.

Best wishes for a fun and frugal Xmas! Frank & Muriel Newman.