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Budget Friendly Holiday Gifts

By Larraine Roulston:
During this holiday season, we strive to surprise our family and friends with useful and memorable gifts. At the same time, it helps to have a spending plan in mind in order to avoid the woes of receiving over-extended credit card bills.

To remain within your budget, make a list of family and friends with the amount of money you can afford to spend on each. In the time remaining until December the 25th, keep an eye open for any sales. Although shopping online may be convenient, try to shop locally so that your spent dollars will remain within your community. As well, if purchasing a bicycle or other sports equipment for example, local retailers are best equipped to help you with selection, accessories and any ongoing maintenance.

Check out thrift stores. Books, in particular, are popular gifts, and many that are found in used book stores are still in mint condition. See what is available on websites such as Craigslist or
Kijiji where you’ll often find items priced as “best offer” from people who may just want to declutter and are willing to negotiate. In all these cases, you will be eliminating excess packaging.

Buy in bulk! From a bulk food store or special area in your supermarket, select nuts, dried fruits, candy or other holiday treats.Some bulk stores will weigh empty jars prior to filling them and even offer a discount for using your own containers.

DIY individuals with access to a kitchen, sewing machine, workshop, fabrics, wool, art and craft supplies, paints, paper, computer or a camera can design gifts that are simple and inexpensive.

From the kitchen, Christmas cheer can take the form of homemade liqueurs. To make Baileys, for example, crack 3 eggs into a blender and add 3 tablespoons of chocolate powder mix. While that is blending,include a few drops of almond extract, 1 pint of whipping cream, 1 can
of Eagle Brand milk, then top with 1 cup of inexpensive rye whiskey. Bottle, add a bow and refrigerate. Family cooks can bake shortbread, ginger cookies, mincemeat pies, chocolate squares and braided fruit breads.

Experienced knitters and sewers are able to create doll clothes, stuffed toys, clothing, slippers, mitts, finger puppets, quilts or braided rag rugs. A novice knitter can make a scarf or hot pad.

Using paper or a computer, ideas include gathering photographs to print a calendar or design greeting cards. Children can have fun drawing up personalized stationery, drawing pictures or making up word search puzzles for grandparents.

By sourcing scented herbs and other ingredients, one can find recipes on how to make homemade lip balm, soaps, shampoos and other personal care products.

Your time can be a precious gift also. Just as much thought and effort can go into practicing a favorite song on a musical instrument. Library books can become a gift when accompanied by an offer to do more household chores so that your recipient has time to read them before
the due date. Gifts also can include the concept of repairing or upcycling.

Generally, eco-friendly gifts will keep people within their budget. This year, have fun making your holiday season a little bit greener.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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