From Christmas Cards to Christmas Morning: Inexpensive Ideas from the Heart

So many of us are crunched by the cost of a Christmas shopping list that’s far too long and full of all sorts of demands. This year, I’m saving on that outpouring of cash by making several gifts for my family. I’m not much on the “craft” side of things, so instead I’m using what I do have: a bit of creativity and elbow grease. Perhaps these ideas will help you out.

We made our own Christmas cards. Instead of spending a bunch of money on prepackaged cards or spending even more on a family portrait to include in Christmas cards, we bought a large set of completely blank cards, designed our own cards including a family picture, and printed these out. We also splurged on stamps from Zazzle, too.

In addition, to some of the spiritually close but physically distant relatives, we prepared a CD for them. Our digital camera has a video recording mode, so we shot a number of short home videos and took a ton of pictures, then we made an “auto run” program using Autorun CD Studio. Basically, viewers can just pop a CD into their CD drive and a cute program automatically runs, enabling the user to access the videos and images.

The cost of this adds up to a lot, but the sentimental value of these is much higher than the “typical” Christmas card.

For the parents, we’re making calendars featuring tons of family pictures. We got a large stack of old family pictures and some new ones and designed a calendar containing all of these images. It took a lot of work, but it was fairly inexpensive and will be an amazing Christmas gift.

For nieces and nephews, we’re giving them interesting room decorations. I made a list of each of their interests, then personally took a photograph related to those interests. I made quality prints of each, then framed them with a matte finish with a small inscription explaining the picture a bit (for example, one picture has a small tag that says “Deer in motion near Indianola” and under it, the date it was taken. These make for much less expensive gifts than they otherwise would.

For our child, we’re giving him time and future money. This may seem cold, but we only got one gift for our one year old son this year to put under the tree. The rest of his gift is simply time: we’ve agreed to each spend one weekend day a month alone with him, letting the other one do whatever they want. The remainder of the actual cost of what we might have purchased for him for Christmas is going into his 529 savings account.

These gifts each are less expensive but yet have more meaning than the material gifts we have purchased in the past.

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