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Posted November 29, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Inexpensive holiday gift ideas that will warm the heart

By Karen Ridings

The holiday season is upon us and budgets are tight. Gift giving doesn't have to ruin your household budget. Here are some ideas that will allow you and your family to meet your holiday gift-giving goals:

Holiday gift ideas for extended families: Have a conversation with family members to discuss the changes you would like to make regarding gift giving for the holidays. For example, if you have a large extended family that meets during the holidays, discuss the option of having a cookie exchange or providing one homemade gift for each family. Some families opt not to exchange gifts, but focus on the time together. Make the time more exciting and fun by playing games or by having a family talent show.

Holiday gift ideas for immediate family members: For families with older children, have a frank discussion about the limits of your holiday budget and help your family to refocus on the true meaning of the holiday and the importance of spending time together. These conversations will help to shape your family's values. Brainstorm together about alternative gift-giving ideas. For example, plan a family outing calendar for the year that might include day trips to the zoo, hiking, a picnic, etc. Suggest making homemade gifts such as candles, food, cards, or "coupons" that will share talents such as cleaning, cooking, and mowing the lawn. "Coupons" can be used for a one-on-one outing with a child. Help younger children make gifts for their siblings. Buy family gifts such as games, music and movies that can be shared together.

Here are some other inexpensive gift-giving ideas:
• Table arrangements or wreaths made with fresh evergreens and other items gathered from your yard
• Homemade candles
• Homemade bread, cakes, cookies, or herbal vinegars
• Homemade cards or ornaments
• Gifts in a mason jar such as candy, ingredients and directions for brownies or cookies, special teas
• Flower bulbs in a pot
• Knitted items such as scarves or hats
• Collages made with family photos
• Mini-gift baskets filled with soap, cream, etc.
• A coupon for a home-cooked meal
• "A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange. " ~Author Unknown

For more resources regarding budgets and the holidays, contact a Family Consumer Sciences agent near you: http://www.ext.vt.edu/.

Karen A. Ridings is a family consumer sciences agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Frederick County. As a registered dietitian and elementary education teacher, families have always been the primary focus of her career. E-mail: ridingsk@vt.edu


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