Ready or Not #190: Gifting Preparedness

This is the season to be jolly – and prepared. The jolly part can be hard especially if you are lacking funds and have special people that you want to show your love to by giving gifts, but the prepared part can be a bit easier.

I can’t solve all your problems, but I can share with you what we did as a family when I was young and my parents were financially challenged. One year we made all of our gifts for each other and it was my favorite Christmas ever! My mother had some material on hand and we used it to make gun socks and denim purses and a variety of other useful fun things. Christmas doesn’t always have to be digital or electronic or make lots of noise and be expensive. Let’s take Christmas back from the advertisers and retailers. Christmas represents an attitude of love and giving from the heart and if you approach the holiday with that attitude it will open the season up to a whole different level.

Prepare Your Neighbors
For your neighbors you could show them how much you appreciate them by making them Emergency Signal Kits. Are you kidding me? Nope, I’m not. Okay, it may not be a conventional cute gift, but it certainly is a gift of love. Buy a bit of ribbon and get some zip-lock bags and you are set. No fuss, no muss and the kitchen stays clean from all that sugar and flour from baking for hours on end. Another good thing about this type of gift is that children of almost any age can help by measuring the ribbon, cutting it to the right length (with children’s safety scissors) and then start an assembly line with the whole family putting them together. Kind of sounds fun.

Now on to the next gift.

Preparing Family and Friends
What are you going to give your parents and in-laws? Show the love and make them an Under Bed Kit. Don’t laugh! You can buy a whistle, a flashlight and sturdy gloves and put them in a container that is appropriate to your finances. They can supply their own shoes. What a caring and thoughtful gift.

How about the Towel Sanitary Kit? That would make a really good gift for a young man who is a scout or likes to camp. It is also a thoughtful gift for a young girl who likes to keep her stuff in order when traveling. This would also be a good gift for young couples to help them get a good start on their 72-hr. kits.

Christmas is going to be a lot of fun if we are going to be giving and getting gifts like these.

Now to Prepare Everyone for the Cold Winter
This year I helped my grandkids make a bunch (okay, a dozen) corn heat bags to give everyone on their list. They had so much fun. First I cut sections of denim pant legs off in 12-in pieces. I like using denim pants because you have two seams already sewn. You don’t have to have a sewing machine to make these either. I just stitched the one end up at night while watching TV with my husband. I then had the grandkids weigh 2 ½ lbs. of whole feed corn (about $10.00 for 50 lbs.) and then I stitched the tops up. If the kids are older, this is a good time to teach them how to sew by hand – a very handy skill to become better prepared.

To make the bags even more special, I took the kids to the cloth store and let them choose a favorite material that they could cut out to decorate the bags. This was a lot of fun and helped them sharpen their cutting skills. After ironing on some double sided fabric adhesive, they each chose a shape to cut out. The four year old chose a square (easier to cut) and the six year old chose a circle (a little more advanced). After cutting the shapes and ironing them to the denim, before filling them with corn, I stitched the appliqués on to make them more secure.

As you see, they turned out really cute and they were very inexpensive to make. A nice benefit was that the kids got a lot of hands-on experience and they really took ownership for the gifts they helped to create. Tomorrow they will wrap them up and then they have to impatiently wait until they are opened. They are both very excited for Christmas morning – and it is not just because they are excited about what they are getting! (Put the corn bags in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and snuggle your feet up and stay warm. Note: Corn bags smell better than rice bags and they stay warmer longer – trust me.)

“Use It Up, Wear It Out…”
Another inexpensive, and yet fun idea is actually two different ideas that you can make out of pant back pockets. If you look at the pictures, they are pretty self explanatory.

After cutting the back pocket out for the purse all you have to do is throw a couple of decorations on and sew on a cute strap. I used beads for this purse strap, but I have also used strapping and fancy ropes. The imagination is the only thing that limits you.

I do stitch the sides of the purse so that it has a finished edge and doesn’t fray, but you could leave more fringe on it if you want.

The little side pocket for the boy is an imitation tool or knife holder. ALL of the men in my family wear pocket knives or Leatherman tools on their belts EVERYDAY and feel undressed if they don’t have their tools attached to them. When my grandson got a plastic Leatherman type tool he didn’t have any place to put it and it didn’t fit in his pocket comfortably. I cut this back pocket out and left all of the material above it. I finished the edges and then I put some Velcro on the flap on the top so that it could be looped around the belt and attached easily. Now he can wear his important “tools” just like his dad, granddad and favorite uncle. The only thing that cost me anything was the Velcro and the appliqué of the flag, and the appliqué is optional.

Both of those ideas would make wonderful stocking stuffers, especially if the purse had a couple of lip balms (about .65 cents each) or a small comb and brush. A small tape measure (two or three dollars at the most) would be perfect for the tool pocket.

Next week I have even more ideas, so don’t despair. Together we will have a wonderfully prepared Christmas!

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