A Very Thrifty Christmas with Kitty & Buck

I've been seeing a lot of gift guides and wish-lists about lately, and I thought I'd share my experience with celebrating Christmas on a budget! A couple of Christmases ago C and I decided to embark on a 100% home-made gift giving exercise. There are a lot of things to love about Christmas. It's the time of year when you generally make more of a point than usual to spend time with your family and loved ones. There's cheesy Christmas songs, and possibly embarrassing sing-a-longs. The food is always special and it's generally accepted that you will indulge in some kind of decadent dietary behaviour. Let's not forget the subtle and not so subtle home and office beautification with pretty lights, glitter, and sometimes, enormous inflatable santa clauses. Of course, depending on your persuasion, there are various religious and spiritual reasons to celebrate as well.

The most important thing for many people is the presents, whether they like to admit it or not. Giving presents is awesome, it's a lovely tradition that offers you a chance to show someone how much you appreciate them. Receiving presents, let's be honest, even if it makes you uncomfortable, it also makes you feel loved, appreciated and thought of. For me though, something stinks about the commercialisation of the holiday that to me, means an opportunity to have a lovely meal with my family and friends, and a chance to all get together in one place at one time. With that in mind, I'd like to offer you an alternative.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, a couple of years ago we were not really in a position to buy presents for everyone. Work commitments meant we had no time to shop, and we were on a pretty tight budget and really felt that we couldn't afford anything 'good enough' to give, nor find the time to hunt down special bargains for our loved ones. We only really buy presents for our immediate family, but once you add up everyone, it tallies up to about 20 people that we need to buy gifts for. I decided to do something I've never done before. I decided to make my Christmas gifts. I felt really bad about this. It seems silly now, but at the time, I thought people might think I was stingy, thoughtless or lazy about buying presents. I went ahead though, found some recipes online, and took myself to the supermarket. A few bags worth of ingredients later, I had my gifts. I baked/made Gingerbread Cookies, Rocky Road, Truffles, Peanut Butter Cups, Brownies, Almond Cookies, Christmas Decoration cookies, and probably a few more bits I can't remember. It was like an insane chocolate factory inside our kitchen for a couple of days. I tried to make things that would last in storage for more than a couple of days, and then packaged them all up into gold boxes from the dollar store with tissue paper and ribbon.

I was actually nervous about giving everyone the same gift, and the gift being food that I'd made. It didn't seem like enough. Boy, was I wrong. I really couldn't have anticipated the response. Everyone was thrilled. And they weren't being polite, there was genuine excitement and happiness that I'd taken the time to make so many little treats. It blew me away. People still talk about the year we made treats, and how it was the best Christmas gift ever, because it showed that we cared, and sacrificed time to make it special, rather than just buying something. Clearly our families and friends are pretty cool.

Personally, it made me remember what is important, showing people you love them, not buying them the biggest and best present, or the coolest thing they've never seen. It doesn't matter how much money you spend, or how flashy the gift is, the thing people REALLY care about is to know that you care. Over the next couple of days, I'll share a recipe here and there, in case you're panicking about last minute shopping, or simply don't have the cash to spend on lavish gifts. I wanted to do a whole series but I've just run out of time. The main sentiment of what I wanted to share is in this post. Sometimes it's easy in this blogging world to be overcome with sharing cute clothes, new products and fun things to buy. There's nothing wrong with that in moderation. But I've been feeling overwhelmed with it lately and really wanted to share an alternative for those of you out there feeling the same way. It's possible to have a thrifty Christmas and still show the people around you how much you love and care for them.