Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cheap and Green Christmas Fun!

Last year at Christmas we were beyond broke. I mean, B-R-O-K-E.

It was our first year experiencing Ye Olde Beverage Company's slow season and we just weren't prepared. It was a real learning experience. Money for Christmas presents came courtesy of our willingness to sell unneeded items on Craigslist but I wanted a way to make our holidays festive around the house without breaking our budget.

And that's when my favorite holiday tradition was born.

Last year rather than spend lots of $$$ on Christmas ornaments and decor, we thought we'd get crafty and make some fun things to have in our house. We had lots of great decor left over from previous years, but we needed ornaments. So, the tradition of making our Christmas ornaments began and it's something I think we'll do with or without any budgetary restrictions.

(Our ornament assembly line - 2007)

Last year, our tree's theme was silly ornament monsters. The whole look was created using an old printer box, some googley eyes, pipe cleaners and glitter. It was the cheapest, easiest and most developmentally appropriate activity I could come up with. Not to mention, we basically had completely recycled and earth friendly decor!

At the end of the Christmas season, I took all the ornaments and tucked them away in a big manila envelope with the year on it. I stuck it in our art archives and figured we'd pull them out one day and look at it like a kind of Christmas time capsule.

(Kai's "Pickle Monster" and more!)

This year, we weren't necessarily trying to be as cheap as possible, but the urge to be simple and creative was still there. I figured the most fun type of ornament to make for a 2 and 4-year-old would be the sugary edible kind and we opted for a candy tree. Gingerbread men, Gumdrop ornaments, and even some creative project from melted peppermints are on the agenda.

(Kai making Gumdrop dangles!)

The Gumdrops were already a huge hit and the best part is that it is something we all do as a family. We take a few hours spread out over a couple weeks and spend it making fun ornaments to hang on the tree. It makes for a great family night and the memories we make are absolutely priceless. Plus, we plan to keep each year's ornaments in a separate envelope and celebrate one year by putting them all on a big tree when the kids bring their own families over for Christmas at our house!

Our only non-edible ornament this year - a pipe cleaner garland. I stole the idea after seeing the exact thing for sale at Joann's Fabric. It was much more fun to make our own!

So, that's what is working for me this week. For more cool ideas, head over to Shannon's Dryer and hear what's working for others out there!


Best Life said...

LOVE this! We need a photo of everything when it's finished. It's inspiring. Good job! Lisa~

yunia said...

good way to save money

Halie said...

Jenna I love your ideas. You are so creative when it comes to kids crafts and projects.
I love the pipe cleaner garland!

Anonymous said...

Great ideas! And who ever thought children just can't be happy without all the expensive toys at Christmas! What a great way to have everyone help decorate!

Thanks for posting your link on my site.

Mom2fur said...

You will find that, over the years, your kids will cherish this 'handmade' moments a lot more than any toys you could buy!
When I was first married, I only had a few ornaments and couldn't afford new ones, so I wrapped up M&Ms in plastic wrap and tied the bundles with ribbons. Those were my ornaments. Boy, was that tree yummy to take down, LOL!

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Cool idea! We put up a lil tree for our son and let him decorate it all by himself. We buy him ornaments that are tough to break, but having him make his own would be even more fun.


Calina said...

What fun for the kids. I'm sure these things will be more meaningful to them than buying STUFF!