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CONTRIBUTION · 13th February 2010
Carrie Chapple
If you are like me, then holidays and other special occasions are an enormous source of stress. It is not considered festive to serve a peanut butter sandwich and it is both embarrassing and depressing to be unable to participate in gift exchanges. Many people acquire crushing debt in the desire to be loving to others, a regrettable situation which can be easily avoided with a little imagination.

Do you have at least a small amount of money but canít figure out how to stretch it? Then consider making your gifts. Many people find handmade gifts more thoughtful and you can have fun too. Many of the thrift or discount stores sell pretty cookie tins and jars for small sums and then you can fill them with some little goodies or other.

Try these inexpensive ideas:

●home-baked cookies, squares, muffins, tarts, or mini-loaves of bread
●homemade brittles, candied nuts, chocolates, or trail mixes.
●applesauce, chutneys, jams or jellies (save by picking your own fruit)
●potpourri in hand-sewn bags from fabric scraps (save by drying your own flowers)
●handmade jewellery, mobiles, bird feeders or wind chimes
●homemade pickles or relishes (use your home-grown veggies)
●hot chocolate mixes, make-your-own cookie mixes, or spice mixes or rubs
●book marks, place mats, potholders, cushions or quilts made from fabric scraps.
●hand-painted plant pots with seed packets, flower bulbs, or herbs
●home-made soups, sauces or marinades

Really broke? Canít sew, bake, or build? Then consider giving personal services instead. In our busy lives, just being able to take a break from day-to-day responsibilities is a gift.

Make your own gift coupons or certificates for the following:

●a foot or back massage
●doing dishes, laundry, grocery- shopping, or other domestic chores
●pet walking
●child care or elder care
●cooking meals
●weeding or planting,
●lawn mowing, snow shovelling, trimming shrubs, planting or weeding
●a scenic drive

Coupons for young children:

●hugs, kisses, etc.
●storybook readings●trips to the park or library
●half-hour extensions for bedtime

Be creative. Make your own gift cards. Wrap gifts in fabric ends instead of paper or recycle old wrap. Newspaper comic pages make great wrap for childrenís gifts. Even regular newspaper can look quite stylish when paired with black ribbon.

Happy gift-giving!