Christmas on a Budget

Many of you are probably reading this title and thinking – “Oh No! It it’s even December yet!” But it’s hard to ignore that the Christmas season has been peaking its head out from underneath the piles of snow as the town is slowly being overcome by Douglas Firs, elaborate window displays, Christmas ornaments and party necessities, and of course, everything peppermint.

Soon, in combination with the Christmas tv specials, caroling, and office parties, will come the gift-giving and Secret-Santa gift exchanges.

As I look at my bank account this month, it is quite dismal I will have to admit. Since the fall I have been on a tight budget, in what seems to be a game of never-ending catch-up. Would I make a few decisions differently? Of course I would. But, as no one has invented a time machine (or at least not one that is available for public use), it is time to Shake it Off and make a plan.

I know I can’t be the only one out there with this problem, as Christmas is often paired with fears of just how much it will cost and decisions of what gifts are really necessary. It’s so easy to get swept up in the money that we forget the real purpose – to enjoy the season and appreciate our friends and family. And hey, if some chocolates and baked-goods come with it, why not! Tis the season to be jolly!

As such, I bring you the best ideas for anyone on a budget. It is easy to find great gifts that are a bit more personal than the usual box of chocolates or body lotions, you just need to put a little thought into it. So before you start to fret, check out my list of suggestions below!

The Chef

This category is near and dear to my heart, as this was the theme of many of the gifts I received last year.

A slow cooker – slow cookers come in different sizes and ranges of power, which does provide some price flexibility. They are a great idea for the busy bodies, since you can throw a ton of ingredients in, turn it on low heat, and have dinner ready for the time you get home from work. I love using mine for ribs, pulled pork, and chicken – however, you can also do soups, stews, and desserts.

3735WN-033-1Crockpot / More Here

Dishes or specialized utensils – it is often hard to justify purchasing those specialized utensils or pie-dishes that look so absolutely necessary displayed in stores. They are usually quite in-expensive ($20) and there is a variety of options from pie cutters, to icing tips, to vegetable choppers, and garlic presses.

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Apron / Pie Mat / Icing Tips / Cut-outs / Pie Crimper / Peeler / Cheese Grater / Quiche Dish

Spices – for the chef that seems to have everything, why not head to a specialty spice store and pick a few out. We have one here in Calgary called the Silk Road Spice Merchant, and although many of the spices are common (cinnamon, cumin, pepper) – they have been curated from around the world for better flavour and quality. In addition, you will often find specialty spice blends or rare spices such as chai masala, lavender, and saffron. Pick a few random jars out – or make a gift set! A great idea is to pick a theme, and then add in a cook book that provides recipes. On the same note, another idea is a specialty oil or vinegar.

The Party Planner

Christmas season is the best time to find gifts for the party planner. Everything just sparkles in silver and gold!

Platters – Once again, platters come in all shapes, sizes, and colours – perfect if you are searching on a specific price point. They often come with creative designs that will definitely come in handy for that themed-party.

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Tree / Santa / Silver / Tiers / Reindeer / Pumpkin / Butter Dish / Gravy Boat

Glasses – As random as this seems, there are some great, inexpensive glasses out there. Those which most people would think are a waste to purchase for one or two events. But that is why they are perfect for that person who loves to entertain. I would recommend purchasing a set of 4 to 6.

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Horse / Curves / Lines / Moscow Mule

The Collector

Christmas Balls – Christmas ornaments are the core of the holiday season. A beautiful ornament will last years which make them perfect for young or old recipients. There are many companies that offer a special-edition ornament, which allows you to build a collection as the years go by. I have three right now, and they are my favorites to place on the tree. They are often ornately decorated and have a sense of awe.

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Penguins / 2014 / Winter

The Intellectual

Books – Books are a great idea for those who love history, love stories, humour, or reading in general. And, with the growing popularity of book clubs, they have become quite popular. Most people have kindles or e-readers, but I still prefer having something to hold onto, of which I can feel a new crease with the turn of every page.

To decide a book, first search for the category your recipient will like, then look at the top picks or best sellers. This will give you an idea of what is popular and worth reading.

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All the Way / What I Know For Sure / First Phone Call From Heaven / Leaving Time

A few I have read (most which have undertones of empowering women) are: A House in the Sky, The Interestings, Hillary Clinton’s Biography, The Rosie Project, and The Glass Castle.

Journals – For the individual who loves to write, journals are a great gift to inspire creativity and keep track of your thoughts. My favourite ones are Moleskine – the pages are an antiquey colour, smooth, and soft. Each word feels magical.

The Beauty Buff

Bath Products – Now I don’t just mean your standard, everyday, bath and body works soaps and lotions. Look for something special, like Turkish bath salts. You may get fewer for the price, but the feeling of luxury is something most of us don’t splurge on for ourselves. Look for specialty stores which sell hand-made products – the aromas will be out of this world and the quality, supreme.

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Bath Soak / Bath Bomb

A Personal Touch

Hand Made Goods – if you really want to give something with a personal touch, why not make it yourself. A holiday gift basket of baked goods (check out my Sugar Cookie Recipe with Royal Icing or my Peanut-Butter and Chocolate Truffles Recipe) is always a crowd pleaser. Just be sure to check for any allergies first. Another idea is to hand-knit a scarf. I’ll have more on this in a post to follow next week. It takes a lot more time to make something than to go and purchase something at the store, and for that reason, your recipient will appreciate it.

The Person Who Has Everything

Gadgets – There are many stores that cater to random gadgets for that person who seems to have everything. One of my absolute favourites is the Restoration Hardware Holiday Collection stocking stuffers.

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Bluetooth wireless Beanie / Speakerphone / Battery Charger / I-phone Camera Lens / Bag Light / Faux-Fur Booties

Comment below with any of your ideas! Now get out there and enjoy some peppermint flavoured coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream, or candy! I much prefer it to the pumpkin-spice craze.