Oily rag: Gifts that fit the budget

By Frank, Muriel Newman

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Impress your family and friends with baked gifts this Christmas.
Impress your family and friends with baked gifts this Christmas.

We can't believe the year is coming to an end so quickly: as one gets older, the years just seem to get shorter.

Christmas is almost here, again, and oily rag households are busy planning for the special day.

Fortunately, the oily rag community has lots of ideas to take the cost out of Christmas but leave in the fun. Here are some tips to unlock your creativity.

A Wellington reader writes: I have recently been trawling galas, garage sales and op shops for Christmas pressies for the kids. You can buy fantastic gifts at very reasonable prices. I have bought all my nieces and nephews puzzles and games of their favourite cartoon characters for 20c each and they are still in almost new condition. My nieces are also getting jewellery boxes that were less than 50c each and my son is getting a huge box of Lego we found for $5. I cannot believe how little we have spent so far and the fantastic toys and gifts the kids are getting this year. Have also saved some presents for birthdays, too.

Check out the number of credits you have on your reward cards. Redeem your points for products or vouchers and use them as gifts.

This is a great way to save cash - and for some it's like being a member of a Christmas club. The beauty is whoever receives a voucher can use it at the Boxing Day sales and make it go even further than it would the day before.

M.G. from Hastings says our wider family got together and decided to limit Christmas gifts to a few dollars per person. That way nobody is too disappointed when they don't get anything flash.

So what can you give for a few dollars?

-Photos with a message printed across them, from digital machines.

-Photo frame, bought or home-made.

-Plants grown from seeds or cuttings.

-Home-made biscuits, cakes, drinks and so on.

-Personalised pens made by printing names (or something more imaginative), on stickers in a small font. Also make a pen holder to go with them.

-Glue fridge magnets to the back of a small notepad, maybe attach a photo or calendar to the top to personalise it. You now have a handy shopping list to keep on the fridge.

-A family favourite is chocolate. Look for a mould that has about a dozen deep individual shapes. Slowly melt chocolate in the microwave to coat the sides of the shapes. When they have set, fill with a cold ganache, made by heating 100ml of cream and dissolving 100g of chocolate into it. This can then be flavoured with peanut butter, liqueurs or honey.

-Kids love to get a plastic glass full of lollies or lolly kebabs.

-Have a "make or bake" Christmas - exchange only gifts that have been made or baked. Start making now - pottery, a painting, a calendar featuring family photos, or print a photo annual (the best photos for 2013), make a family recipe book featuring each person's favourite recipes, or record your favourite children's book digitally and send to others to enjoy the story and your narration.

-Have a "kids-only" Christmas. One reader says this year the extended family have agreed to give presents only to kids. With things being a bit tight, they were looking for ways to make the fewer dollars in their pockets go further.

Please send in your favourite tips for frugal gifts so we can share them with others - remember at this time of year, every suggestion helps.

Do you have a favourite tip to share? Send it to us at www.oilyrag.co.nz or write to Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

- Northern Advocate

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