The holidays always amaze me. Like a roller coaster ride, you creak up the hill and then suddenly, its happening, you're flying down the hill whether you're ready or not. Sometime on Christmas morning, I experience that same feeling, company is here, ready or not! Overall, I'm really happy with the way our holiday unfolded.
Our kids made us a beautiful patchwork quilt for our bed upstate (baby, its cold up there!) Perhaps it was the ultimate testament to our journey into frugality as a family. The only supply they bought new was quilting thread. The fabric was from freecycle, I believe a local seamstress was retiring and clearing out her fabric supply. The backing was a queen size fleece blanket that we already had. I had bought the batting over a year ago, on sale of course, with the intention to make a quilt for the same bed. To give my kids proper credit, I should remind everyone that they are 14, 13, 6, and 5. (My 13 yr old, the sewer of the group, did ask for some technical advice along the way but the kids did all the planning, cutting, sewing, decorating and embroidering.) I'm not sure anything that follows can top this gift!
For the kids, we kept it low key. We gave the kids personalized bathrobes (most were from the thrift store, one was acquired from my sister-that adds cool appeal, one was made from scratch using towels.) The kids all modeled these Christmas morning. Learning to embroider is such a useful skill at a time like this. The kids also got some books, some shirts, a new sheet set and the third Harry Potter DVD (used of course!) Jim and I exchanged some records (he collects them) and books (I love Joyce Carol Oates.) We also reminded the kids of the canoe we had purchased earlier in the year as a family Christmas present.
Santa brought the girls old style metal Atra razors (I've mentioned before these last forever. These were the most expensive item we bought, $57.77 for both of them on ebay, but, when you consider how long I've had mine, they were a bargain.), white Ked type sneakers (they wanted to decorate these with fabric paint), shaving cream and hair gel.
For the boys, the big man left a guitar (freecycle), a recorder (ebay), crayons, colored pencils, drawing paper, wallets and gloves. Throughout the day, the boys were seen playing music and discussing the songs they should write. At the end of the night, we found them in their room, tushes sticking up in the air, coloring.
For extended family, we made a variety of things based on the recievers lifestyle (I mean we couldn't give homemade placemats to my 18 yr old sister who still lives at home.) For some we made placemats and matching napkins or potholders, for others record bowls filled with cookies. Everyone got a flower pot decorated by the boys.
Not all the gifts were homemade, some were acquired creatively. One of my sisters was looking to go back to the gym. We gave her a gym bag, water bottle and jump rope that I had planned to use as a giveaway at work two years ago but never got around to. My brother recieved a brand new, still with tags on, Rangers pullover jacket that had been left at a friends house when they moved in. The price tag said $100, I got it for nothing and my brother thought it was a great story.
Some gifts were a combination of homemade and acquired, like the ceramic pig lamp for my sister in law (she loves pigs!) The lamp was perfect, the shade was not. We recovered the shade with fabric that matched her home's color scheme.
Three gifts were just bought, a griddle for my parents that we chipped in on with my brother, a bath set for my youngest sister, and a mesh bag and bath toys for my one year old niece.
The final price tag for the whole holiday was about $100 ($225 if you include the earlier purchase of the canoe). Tomorrow: a review of the food we served and how we're dealing with the leftovers.