Friday, 30 December 2011

USE SEEDS AS LIGHTWEIGHT CHRISTMAS GIFTS

If you need a lightweight, cheap, but thoughtful gift, slip a packet or two of seeds into your Christmas card to a gardening fan. You may know their favourite flower or vegetable - choose that and wrap with a small amount of festive ribbon and slip inside their Christmas card. Choose a slightly larger type greetings card (perhaps about A5 size) and you will be sure to have space to get the seed packets in.
Even better, if you harvest, dry and pack seeds from your own garden with a home-made seed packet (get a template HERE) showing a photo of how the plants looked in your garden it will probably cost even less.  
Don't forget to include growing instructions!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

CHRISTMAS IS OVER FOR ANOTHER YEAR!

Well, it's all over folks! The spending, the cooking, the drinking, the eating- well, perhaps not the eating! So here's hoping you haven't incurred too much debt over Christmas and don't have a bad start to 2012. 
I will be continuing my moneysaving efforts all year round over on Happy Frugal Year, but if you want to start Christmas knitting ready for next year, take a look at my Free Christmas Knitting Patterns blog now and get started! And I'll be attempting to add to it as the year goes on, so keep on checking back!
Happy Frugal New Year!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

FREE PRINTABLE GIFT TAGS

I've usually got a stash of home-made gift tags which I cut out every year from  my Christmas cards, but if you haven't, these free printable gift labels are really good. You will need thin card that will go through your printer though, which is a bit of a drawback as just printing them out on ordinary paper will look a bit strange!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS PRESENT TO KNIT

If you need a really modern, last minute Christmas present for someone, then this free pattern for an Anthroplogie inspired headwrap (headband) by Jen Geigley is a winner. Knitted in cable with a very chunky yarn, it will be done in no time and is a real winter warmer. It has a button fastening for ease of fit, but you could join the ends as a band.
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A QUICK ROUND-UP OF FRUGAL CHRISTMAS GIFTS TO KNIT OR CROCHET!

Just a quick round-up of all those lovely frugal Christmas gifts to make that I've posted links to over the past few Christmasses! They all slip far down the posts and you may have missed out on something - so take a look!
Christmas gifts to make round-up
Happy frugal creations!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

CROCHET A SANTA SUIT FOR YOUR FAVOURITE LITTLE BABY!

This cute free pattern for a Santa outfit to crochet for your favourite little person is just irresistible - and you still have time to make it!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

FREE PEPPA PIG TOY KNITTING PATTERN

I'm not quite sure about the attraction of Peppa Pig - but then I'm not a child - so what do I know? But it does seem that lots of little people are mad on her - so you've just got time to knit a Peppa Pig for your little fan for Christmas. I've found this free knitting pattern for Peppa Pig - get knitting quick!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

RETRO SWEET HAMPERS!

Today, I was browsing a website which was suggesting interesting Christmas gifts (i.e. not socks!!) and my eye was caught by a picture of a retro sweet hamper. On closer reading it seemed that the hamper, containing retro sweets like Sherbet dabs, Gobstoppers, Refresher Bars, Flying Saucers, Love hearts, Black Jacks, Foam Shrimps, Candy Necklaces, Candy Sticks and Gobstoppers, cost £22.99 plus £2.99 delivery. The hamper measures 20cm x 28cm x 12 cm which is quite cutesy and small - sort of handbag sized, but I can't see the weight of the sweets displayed anywhere. I'm sure you cold make your own for a lot less! The sweets can be bought loose online (just Google "retro sweets") or in large bags from the supermarket, so then you need a container.
Now, I know it can be difficult and expensive to buy wicker/straw hampers, but most recipients of this gift probably wouldn't know what to do with a hamper once the sweets were eaten and it may be thrown out or given away - how much more useful would it be to find a container that had a use afterwards - and was easier and cheaper to obtain? You may even be able to buy a seasonal gift box or bag to use.I'll leave the ideas to all of you good people - because it depends who you're buying it for! It could be a plant pot cover, a giant beer mug or tea cup and saucer, a bucket (with sponge!) for car cleaning - well, you get the idea!
Leave a comment if you come up with some ideas - I'd love to hear them! (and add them to this post).

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

PRINT YOUR OWN ENVELOPES, CARDS, GIFT BAGS, TAGS AND BOXES

I'm trawling the 'net for Christmassy frugal stuff and today I've found printable templates for a 4.5" x 6" envelope (pdf), a santa gift tag (and more), a snowman giftcard, a santa Christmas card, gift bag printables in all designs, and a lovely "friends" card and a Christmas tree card ideal for children to send. Some of the designs are photo images and some are drawn designs which could be livened up with gold or silver pen lines, or a sprinkle of glitter or frosting to enhance them. Another idea is to make tiny ribbon bows from narrow ribbon if you have it (I use the ribbon loops that I've cut from from the shoulders of clothing), and glue to the corner of your card.
Tip - some of the templates are pdf. and some are just images you can save as a jpg. file, but as over time, websites change or disappear, it's probably good to save these on your computer for next year!
Happy frugal crafting!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

FREE AMIGURUMI LITTLE BIG PLANET SACKBOY CROCHET PATTERN

As well as a free knitting pattern to knit a LittleBig Planet Sackboy, I've now found a lovely little Amigurumi Sackboy free crochet pattern which would make a lovely Christmas stocking filler. It has the pattern and full Youtube instructions to help you.
Get hooking and clicking!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Monday, 28 November 2011

MAKE YOUR OWN WARMING WHEAT BAGS

Wheat bags are warming and great for winter aches and pains. Sew your own lavender bags with these instructions from A Spoonful of Sugar, from pretty brushed fabric scraps for gifts or make some for yourself from old brushed cotton shirts or pyjamas.
Finish with matching ribbon and a pretty label with microwaving instructions and you have a pretty, practical gift.
A Spoonful of Sugar has loads of other gorgeous free tutorials showing us how to make lots of those personal little useful things like felt luggage tags (for your favourite traveller), smartphone cover (love, love, love the Eiffel Tower appliqué - I've had a few great trips to Paris), a loyalty card wallet, Be Merry Festive Christmas garland, a passport protector, decorations and much more!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

HOW TO MAKE JUNK MAIL STAR DECORATIONS

These gorgeous junkmail star Christmas decorations can be quickly made from scraps of Christmas wrapping paper, magazines or junkmail, glue, cardboard (a cereal packet will do) and stick-on gems (although I would use buttons, sequins or beads- anything rather than have to go and buy something!). If you have glitter you can add it and a loop of thread will make it into a great tree decoration. Instructions HERE.
(and more scrap/cheap Christmas decorations to make HERE)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

23 FREE GINGERBREAD HOUSE DESIGNS

Making gingerbread houses seems like a forgotten art - but if you have a hankering for some gingerbread making, here's a free downloadable gingerbread house ebook with everything you will need; recipes and building techniques, candy list, more gingerbread recipes and Christmas craft ideas.

MAKE SOME CROCHET BELLS AND SNOWFLAKES!

These beautiful crochet snowflakes and bells will look wonderful as a tree decoration. I'm afraid I have to admit to not being a very experienced crocheter- but someone out there will love this free snowflake and bells crochet pattern - I just know it!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

FREE CHRISTMAS PUDDING BEANIE HAT KNITTING PATTERN

Just the thing to get in the Christmas spirit - a knitting pattern for an adult size cute Christmas plum pudding beanie! Well, if nothing else, who ever wears it will give everyone a really good seasonal laugh!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

HOW TO GET YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR (ALMOST) NOTHING

Well it's Sunday, and, as it's always free to park in my nearest town on Sunday, I've gone and done some Christmas shopping, but I managed not to spend too much! I've used my loyalty cards and cash-back websites where I can and here's what I've achieved so far:
  • 11 bottles of wine for about £3 which will top up my very low Christmas drinks stock, using the Tesco Clubcard Double points exchange (I changed up £30 worth of vouchers and went over my £60 self-imposed limit a bit with my last bottle of wine!)
  • a gift for my niece, paid for with my Boots Advantage Card points
  • a Dorothy Perkins £10 voucher from a cashback website I use, that'll be another gift!
  • John Lewis vouchers from our credit card spending all year - not spent yet, but they will buy turkey, cake, pudding, mince pies, custard, tree chocolates and more in Waitrose.
  • 2 presents from Accessorise with a 25% discount from an emailed discount for instore and online (I had to show them the email on my phone!)
  • 2 lip glosses I've received from online giveaways - more gifts for the girls in the family!
So, I'm not doing too badly on the spending so far- and just for a bit of effort with the loyalty and credit cards on routine weekly shopping that I would be doing anyway!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

MAKE YOUR OWN JAR GIFTS

I know that home-made Christmas presents conjure up images of badly knitted jumpers and pictures made from pasta, but really, honestly, you can make something simple, frugal, and it can look professional!
Jars full of something gifts are an old idea, but we can bring them up to date. Take a look at online gift catalogues and check out the foody, cosmetic and bathing sections. I've done that this morning and found some already - actually it was a jar of salt from Jamie Oliver's cooking range- not a thrilling present!
But - if you think creatively and take inspiration from the packaging, the colours, the contents of gifts, you're starting off on the right lines. There are baking sets, cup-cake sets, coffee making sets, gardening sets - the list is endless.
Jars are not cheap- but unless you are completely penniless, I would try not to use an empty jam jar! Lakeland has some old-fashioned looking folksy style jars (very now) and they come in two sizes, 500ml (£15.99 for 6) and 1 litre (£17.99 for 6). Before you gasp at the price- that works out at £2.67 and £2.99 respectively and filling them can be as cheap or expensive as you like. If you think you won't be able to find cheap enough fillings for these jars, check out some ideas for jar gifts here and these here on the Organised Christmas site who have even give you free printable recipe labels to finish off your foodie jar gift!
You could fill your jars with your own home made sweets, or Christmas Chutney or just tailor your fillings to the recipient; nail polish, emery boards, cotton wool, nail polish remover for a girl who likes to paint her nails, bath bombs and pearls for ladies who like to soak, travel size bath goodies and socks for men, beads with instructions for little girls.
You can even make "jar" gifts without the jar - just use a suitable container that goes with the gift, for example, a flower pot containing seeds, gardening gloves and a small garden trowel for a keen gardener or a pretty cake tin with ingredients, cake paper cases and instructions for cupcakes for an aspiring cook (these are around £40 on some sites at the moment).
Happy frugal gifting!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

FREE ANGRY BIRDS AMIGURUMI TOY CROCHET PATTERN

Yet another creative Christmas present idea to keep you busy! If you know an Angry Birds fan then this free crochet pattern for Angry Birds Red Bird is a great stocking filler idea! 
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

MORE FREE CHRISTMAS COLOURING PAGES TO PRINT OUT

I've been scouring the web for free Christmas colouring pages - everyone loves these and they are so adaptable. You can make posters, cut sections out and make bunting, use for decoupage, banners, or print out and colour for Christmas greetings cards.
Here's some more for your enjoyment - Educational Colouring Pages and Colouring Pages.com.
Get those kids colouring!

A CROCHET PATTERN FOR THE ALL-IMPORTANT SANTA HAT

There's never enough Santa hats to go around at Christmas so Fave Crafts has given us 2 lovely crochet patterns for them! There is one cute little baby Santa hat for the smallest people in the family and a grown up size one for the rest of us!
Find your red and white yarn and get crocheting!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

FREE TUTORIAL RECIPE FOR BATH SNOWBALLS!

Yet another gem from Fave Crafts - a free bath Snowball recipe- ideal for an extra Christmas gift! Lovely and sparkly- they look great in white, but can be coloured with food colouring. You need a few very simple ingredients, but the spherical mould may be an expense, but at least once you have it you can produce more gifts in future years.

5 FREE CROCHET CHRISTMAS WREATH PATTERNS

I'm sorry that I'm not much of a crocheter (is that even a word?) - my skills amount to a few dodgy looking practise granny squares at the moment! I MUST practise more! I may be able to make something like this then!
This beautiful crochet Christmas wreath from Fave Crafts is just one of a free downloadable ebook of crochet Christmas wreaths. There is also a Candy cane crochet wreath, a Christmas Bells crochet wreath, a small Christmas Wreath decorative pin brooch and a small crochet wreath decoration.
I love them all because they all have that sometimes rare quality of looking professional, whilst also looking hand-crafted.
Happy frugal crocheting!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

FREE SNOWMAN CHRISTMAS STOCKING TO KNIT

I have been browsing around Christmas patterns on the 'net and came across this beautiful free pattern for a Snowman Christmas stocking to knit from Fave Crafts. This is a new pattern to me and I like it because it doesn't need double-pointed knitting needles or complicated heel turning! The shaping of the heel is all worked in decreases from the chart (I have a very old, similar pattern that, coincidentally I am just about to finish - again!) and I know just how well it will turn out.
The snowman is worked from a chart, with small details being added on after with Duplicate Stitch - I'm not familiar with that stitch, but from the chart, it looks like what I know as Swiss Darning (quite simple when you get into the rhythm), but Google it if you're not sure how to do it.
I also love the fact that, whilst not being knitted in all those red, white and green colours, it still manages to look "Christmassy"! But of course you can substitute any colours you have - a great stashbuster!
Make sure you click the the two links for the back and front of the charts and save or print them off.
Happy frugal knitting!

Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

THE DISAPPEARING (AND REAPPEARING) CHRISTMAS LIST

That's it, I have to admit it, I cannot find my Christmas list- did I even start one? I really can't remember! But actually my other half thinks I did, so I'm not imagining things. Wait a minute...(jumps up looks in the "junk, pencils, crayons, paper" drawer and flicks through numerous half started A4 lined note pads) - found it!
Well, I have to say it's a disappointment - only 2 people with gifts beside their names and, I will freely admit, these are "regiftings"! My regifting process has to be highly organised - I never want to be in the agonisingly embarrassing position of realising that I've regifted something to the original giver! I have a relative who once carefully wrapped up a bottle of hand cream I had given her in a very unusual make boxed set about 5 years before. It smelled a bit funny so I threw it away and made a mental note about her generosity (and her memory) - I always at least I make sure I quickly rotate gifts!
On my list so far there is a book that my son was about to donate to the charity shop (in excellent once-read condition) and a set of men's smellies in the usual box/bag which my husband really wasn't going to use (he already has a few from many Christmases ago!).
So that's why my list already has something on it. I have to be sure the gifts go from one side of the family to the other, so labelling and note-taking are a must in my regifting system.
As a person who feels quite depressed about the amount of money spent and the debt accrued generally, at Christmas, (see my 2008 post on just this) I have no shame in regifting and keeping my expenditure low. I do try to buy appropriate gifts for the person concerned, but also try to only spend around £5 on each gift (but considerably more for my husband, parents and children- I might add!). I cannot face a credit card bill in January, so I buy small and regularly and use all my loyalty card points and survey credits to help me spread the expense.
The sheer escalation of cynical marketing by the big stores at Christmas, just depresses me. I'm not that religious, but at this time of year, I do often think back to why we are all celebrating Christmas in the first place - and it doesn't have much to do with the rampant commercialism we see on our high streets and in the shopping centres now.

It is, as ever, the thought that counts.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

14 FREE KNITTING PATTERNS FOR CHRISTMAS

There's plenty of time to start knitting for Christmas - (I hope the wool shops don't run out of red, white and green yarn!). I've found 14 lovely patterns for Christmas which include quite a few Christmas stockings, a doggy coat for your favourite pooch, a gorgeous hooded red jacket for a little one, a scarf and perhaps my favourite of the lot, a lovely Bow Cushion- a knitted cushion all wrapped up in a huge knitted bow!
Happy Frugal knitting!
Check out my growing collection of patterns for crochet and  knitted gifts!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!

I was going to put off resurrecting my Christmas blog until Halloween was well out of the way, as I'm not fond of bringing Christmas preparations even closer to the summer holidays! But I've begun to look at my stash of Christmas gifts bought and won throughout the year, so I guess it must be time to start again! I started a list somewhere a few weeks ago - now I can't find it! That often means I buy someone a present who I have already bought for- then I have to try to work out who else I can give it to - not easy!
You'll see I have installed a "Countdown to Christmas" widget on this blog so we are all reminded each time we read, just how close the actual day is getting!

Right - I'm off to find that list. Christmas gift giving has to be more frugal than ever this year - I'm determined!