Thrifty Gifting

Baby Shower Gift

Has anyone noticed how expensive baby items are?  Diapers, wipes, even soap, are ridculously high considering they’re going to use on such a small person.  Here’s a cost-effective gift that is not only easy to make but truly special to the recipient.  I made one for a friend’s shower, and it cost me $6.00.  With a little savvy shopping, you could do it for even less.  This will work for a baby or a small child, but if you’d like to make it for a little bit older kid, I would not cut the towel in half.

Baby Wrap Bath Towel

Materials:

Elastic

velcro

1 bath towel

1/2 yard fabric

matching thread

scissors

printer paper

printer

sewing machine

1. Fold towel in half hamburger style (it should look like a fat rectangle, not a long skinny one!). 

2. Cut the towel along the middle line. 

3. Cut the piece of velcro in half and reserve one of the pieces for later use. 

3. Rip the velcro apart and pin one piece against the cut end of the towel, making sure it is also laying flush with the finished edge. 

4. Sew the piece on. 

5.  Take the other piece and pin it to the opposite and reverse side of the towel (lay the towel out so that the first sewn piece is facing up.  If the sewn piece is on the left, you’ll sew the new piece to the back right.  If it’s on your right, you’ll sew the new piece to the back left.) If done correctly, the two pieces of velcro should be on opposite sides of the towel and should NOT be back to back. 

6. Measure 1” from the cut edge and fold over. 

7. Pin the elastic to one edge and measure to determine 2/3 of the length of the towel.  Mark this area with a pen or marker on the elastic. 

8. Pin the folded edge in place, making sure that the elastic will not be sewn over. 

9. Sew along pinned edge to create a channel for the elastic. 

10. Return to the end of the elastic that is pinned down. Sew the elastic in place.  With the remaining end, pull the elastic until the black mark appears.  Careful to not let go of the elastic, pin it to the edge of the channel and cut along the black line.  Sew the end of the channel closed. 

11. (Now comes the fun part!) Using the fonts on a computer program, such as Microsoft Word, type out the child’s name in bold letters.  Adjust the size of the font as needed. 

12. Print, cut out, and trace the letters backwards onto the reverse side of the fabric. 

13. Arrange the letters on the towel, pin them down, and applique them on.  Use excess fabric or ribbon to embelish, sew a removable (with velcro) hood, or applique a matching wash cloth!

How I Did Christmas for Nine on a $50 Budget

Christmas was very lean for us this year.  I don’t know of anyone else who’s entire budget for their children’s gifts was $6. It’s not alot, but it was enough to cover the overage on the two books we purchased for him at Barnes and Noble after the gift card money was deducted from the bill.  Incidentally, I am happy to report that he thoroughly enjoys his books, as evidenced by the Curious George book with a corner gnawed off  the cover.    

I love it when I walk the aisles of a store and, while perusing the merchandise, am stopped in my tracks by something that is both affordable and that I know would be beneficial to a family member or friend.  Unfortunately, circumstances did not allow for the traditional shopping experience this year.  I enjoy the hustle and bustle of the shopping season, but, while I don’t mind braving the crowded stores and endless lines, I found myself spending more time searching the internet and hunched over my sewing machine than I did in the mall.  My challenge was to figure out a way to have Christmas gifts for nine people on a budget of about $50.  Here’s how I did it.

I bought a towel and wash cloth for each of my nieces and nephew as well as four coordinating fabrics and complementary ribbon.  I went into Microsoft Word and printed off the letters of each of their names in an appropriate font.  After cutting out the letters, I outlined the letters backwards onto the back side of the fabric and cut out the newly traced letters from the material.  Then I placed the letters onto the towel, pinned them down, and sewed them on.  I sewed a strip of ribbon down both sides of the towel to finish it off.  To make a matching wash cloth, I simply cut out the first letter of their name from the fabric and appliqued it in the same way onto the wash cloth.  Again, I sewed ribbon down the sides, and voila!  the sets were complete.

I could have stopped there, but I wanted to make it a little more special.  Using the remaining fabric, I made a no sew tote bag (in the next post, I will give a how-to for the bag). I was quite pleased with the results, but I was still a little apprehensive about giving them to the kids.  Naturally, I wanted the hard work and love I’d put into it to be acknowledged, but I also know that sometimes, in the mind of a child who may not fully grasp the true spirit of Christmas, it can be disappointing to open what you think could be a cool toy only to find, well, a towel.  Thankfully, though, I have very sweet nieces and nephew who were actually quite excited about their homemade gifts.

If you know that you’re going to be short on Christmas money, you need to plan ahead, the earlier the better.  Be on the lookout for deals and savings that you may not get later on in the year.  My deal came last October.  At the time, Walgreen’s had a special  that gave participants a free photo book.  That, combined with a promo code for free shipping, enabled me to make a very special gift for my parents and in-laws.  I used various pictures of my son and created a story book with my son as the narrator.  In it, he described his life so far, things that he’d learned, his interests, etc.  In the title, I even referred to it as “a memoir.”  It was cute, funny, and, best of all, free!

One thing I’ve picked up on from my father-in-law is that he knows a lot of his family history.  That gave me the idea to make a family tree.  Using a template from www.marthastewart.com, I signed up for the two week free trial to www.ancestry.com and began the search (when I ran into dead ends there, www.familysearch.com was a great help to me.  Not only is it free, but it offers lots of information helpful in filling out the branches of a family tree).  When I was certain that I’d gone as far as I could, I placed the neatly written out tree under a recycled mat and put it all into an attractive (but $5) frame.  It was a lot of work and took time, but it was such a rewarding endeavor, especially when we saw how much he enjoyed looking at it. 

My sister-in-law loves turquoise, and, lucky for her, I have jewelry business with some very beautiful pieces that I knew she would love to have.  When I renewed my contract last year, Premier Designs gave me a $50 gift certificate towards the purchase of jewelry as a thank you.  I was able to use it to get a necklace for Stephanie and was able to walk away having only paid $4.50 for the shipping.

Last Christmas was financially trying for a lot of people.  I heard someone say, “Next Christmas will be better!” but in many ways, I certainly hope not.  It took more effort, more dedication, and definitely more thought, but I thought this was one of the best Christmases we’ve ever had.  I like getting gifts as much as the next guy, but there’s something to be said for going out of your way to give the people you care about one really special gift, rather than two or three things you decided to buy for them because you were just trying to check them off the list and get out of the mall as quickly as possible.  I will keep you updated with inexpensive gift giving ideas as they arise, but I challenge you to rethink the way you do gifting.  Giving to others should be a joyous expression of your love for them, not a stressful financial burden.  You don’t have to skip the mall altogether, but when the time for gift giving rolls around, make it meaningful.

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