Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas on a Budget, Part 1

I haven't posted in a few days, but I'm running around trying to get everything done before Christmas, so please bear with me. I really wanted to share some gift ideas I'm using this year, in case it might help someone else who doesn't want to (or can't) spend a lot of money on gifts.

First of all, I'll admit that my children (and nieces and nephews) don't mind a bit if their toys and gifts come from secondhand shops. That gives us a lot of freedom since we can gather a wish list of items that would usually cost around $20 and often find them for less than $5 at a thrift store.

For instance, my nieces and nephews gave their wish lists to my parents. I took the list with me on vacation last week (yep, I was away!), and we found over 3/4 of the items on the list! Not only that, but I don't think those items cost $20 altogether.

Some of the items I found: 2 Easy Bake ovens ($1 and $2), Baby Alive doll ($0.78), hardcover Hardy Boy books ($1 each), Barbie house and cafe ($1.50 for all), Polly Pocket limousine ($1), Polly Pocket laminate-style house ($1.50), Tolly Tots doll ($3 - like American Girl) ... You get the idea!

So let's start with those Easy Bake ovens ... When you buy secondhand, you don't always get all the original pieces. Never fear, there are usually easy alternatives. For example, the Easy Bake ovens didn't come with the pans. I had an awful time finding a pan that would fit inside, but I finally hit on the perfect solution: Pampered Chef bread tube ends.

What am I talking about? These:

See how the ends come off? They're the perfect size for the Easy Bake pans!

This might not seem like the most frugal idea to you, but I see these all the time in thrift shops. In fact, my husband just picked up three of them tonight for $2 each. That comes out to $1 for each Easy Bake pan. Not bad, considering they're $1-1.50 plus shipping from the manufacturer!

Please note that Easy Bake oven sizes vary. I found two different ones, and they both take different sizes of pans. The larger ones aren't hard at all to find alternatives for, but these smaller ones are a lot harder!

I'm making a lot of gifts this year, so look for more ideas in the next few days.