Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Gifts

This Hanukkah/Christmas season is posing an interesting challenge. In the days when we lived beyond our means (that would be most of our days until a year or so ago) I'd simply charge up a bunch of presents for the kids, for teachers and therapists. Not for Lars, though -- we can't justify spousal gifts except for something small on birthdays. Even when we were living like the upper-middle class people we weren't, we couldn't justify gifts for each other.

And really, we THOUGHT we were super economical, looking for deals, buying the least expensive remote control car or the paperback edition instead of the glossier hard cover. I'd go looking at TJ Maxx and Target for cute, cheap teacher gifts (tiny picture frames for $7.99 each, or a box of pretty little note cards for six bucks. Problem was, we had a boatload of people to buy for if you counted, along with the teachers, the therapists, music teachers, and SPED administrators we wanted to thank every year -- not to mention our dear nieces and nephews, my brother and sister-in-law, R-- and J--, and our closest friends. Grandma and Grandpa insist that we not buy them anything, and we gratefully oblige.

Anyway, this year we are no longer living like people who have expendable income, because we have even less of that we did before. Now that I am unemployed we have to ACTUALLY BE SUPER-ECONOMICAL and not just play at being shepherds and shepherdesses. We are no longer aristocrats, folks -- we are tending the sheep.

I actually don't mind sheep -- I find them rather sweet. So it's all good, but the problem is, how do you buy gifts when you have about $100 available for the whole shebang?

Here's what I've been doing:

  • Making homemade assorted truffles and packing them in festive, be-ribboned bags for teachers, etc
  • Searching Craigslist for used video games (most of the Chez Delaunay decor is brought to you courtesy of Craigslist, just fyi)
  • Visiting Savers in search of that perfect shirt, pair of boots, or jacket for Saskia, and -- if we are extremely lucky -- for some kind of video game for Benjy
  • Buying personal care items -- bath gel, moisturizer -- at TJ Maxx
I wish I could snap a photo of my truffle bags and post it here but Lars and I still use dumb phones, and we have lost the usb cord to our camera and can't upload pictures. Welcome to our world.

You know, I don't mind at all that buying/making holiday gifts is so much more work than usual. I think of it as a problem to be solved -- how do I take care of everyone and maintain my budget? And it feels REALLY good to know we are not going into debt just because someone decided you need to ply everyone with goodies at the winter solstice.

I'll save that for when I have to cough up a couple hundred dollars so Benjy can continue fencing in January. He loves it, feels good about himself when he does it. THAT will be money well spent.

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