This post includes no pictures and I won't be sending a notice through Facebook, but I want to talk a little about how I am able to enjoy a Christmas where I can give to many of my friends and family and not break the bank.
I am the wife of a school teacher and I'm a homemaker. I have never worked full-time, but have worked part-time most of my married life. Money has always been scarce and my husband and I have learned to be frugal. Because we are frugal, we never pretended to our children that they would get what they wanted from Santa. They were invited to make a list and Santa would do what he could. I can remember one especially hard year when my sons received a pack of 10 metal die cast cars. We didn't feel we could afford a Hot Wheels car (you know... the $.50 ones.) At one point, my poor, long-suffering sister was relegated to receiving a new statue that had to be mended because someone at the store had broken it. It was a magnificent price and I had little money to spare, so she was given it.
Our church teaches maintaining a food storage and I have always had a 3-12 month supply of food that we eat and rotate continuously plus a year's worth of the necessities of life including wheat, oats, beans, flour, sugar, oils, and powdered milk. In order to maintain the 3-12 month supply of food, I buy things on sale. For example, I know that sometime in October or December baking supplies will reach the year's lowest prices. I know that sugar, flour, cake mix, marshmallow creme, evaporated milk, and Hershey's candy bars will all be the cheapest prices in the year and I make sure that there is money set aside to buy enough of these to last the year. This means that I can make all my candies for the cheapest prices possible.
At this point in my life, I can spend a little more for gifts. Even so, for my friends, I plan on spending less than a dollar on gifts that I make. This year, they received my borax star ornaments. They cost about $.25.
Good friends are relegated to $3-5. I find these gifts on sale at different times of the year and pick them up or I will find a really cute pattern to make something that requires more time and/or money than the general gifts described above. The Santas fell into this category. They were not particularly expensive, but the time factor made them a gift for good friends. Other good friends got gifts bought at a deeply discounted price. Really good friends might have a little more spent on them. I am not above using the rewards programs from my credit cards or discounts from my employer to get a better gift than I pay for.
Credit card rewards have been extremely good to us. We use our cards to pay for everything... bills, food, gas, clothes, insurance, supplies for business. We then pay our credit card bill completely each month. By doing this, we earn rewards but pay no fees. Last year, my daughter and her spouse received an I-touch from my husband and I. We had enough rewards money to purchase it without any cash passing from our hands.
I'll get off my soapbox now and go fix dinner. Bye!