Oct 012013
 

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84 Days Till Christmas!  When put that way, it seems so close and I feel so far behind.  Yet in my mind it is 3 months away, which seems so much further and allows me to relax.  I’m not rushing time.  Fall is my favorite season and I plan to enjoy it to the fullest while it is here.  After all, it only happens once a year.  Still, I also plan to enjoy the Christmas Season once it comes.  For me, a large part of enjoying it is planning ahead so I won’t be rushing around or stressed.

A few weeks back I had a post showing some items I had gotten at a clearance sale at a second hand store.  Some of those items were for Christmas gifts and cost $1 each.  I’m not saying that I only buy cheap presents, but I do look for things the recipients would like and try not to spend $20/$40/$100 if I can get them for less.  (It doesn’t work all the time, but some savings is better than no savings.)  This is one of the benefits of starting early.

Today I want to share with you some things you may be able to get for free.  If they are no longer available, don’t be disheartened.  Keep your eyes open.  They may be available again or you  may find something similar.

groups of various colored tulips

Here are some examples of things I have done:

  • Request samples – recently Twinings Tea company was offering to send a sample of three bags of their tea.  I was able to choose which flavors.  These will actually be used as a part of three different gifts.  I have seen and requested offers such as this before.  There have also been offers for coffee and hot cocoa, oatmeal and cream of wheat, granola bars, etc.  This is also a great idea if you need something to include in a card.  You could also request a variety of k-cup samples and put together an assorted box to share with someone you know has a machine which uses these.  The cup can be expensive when bought in a store and this way there will be a unique variety for the recipient.  It does take time to receive these items, so start now requesting them if you haven’t done so.
  • Use a free bag as part of your wrapping or gift – Every so often I happen to get a free bag.  Sometimes it is a “free” offer, others were being handed out, or they may have come from point redemption from one program or another.  Use it in place of a gift bag or wrapping, or include it as part of the gift.
  • Worms from your  vermiculture bin – you will really have to make sure that the person you are giving these too loves to garden.  Not everyone will appreciate the gift of worms.  I do not often share my worm, to be honest, because my worms haven’t multiplied quickly in the bin.  (They multiply a LOT more in my raised beds.)  Actually, it has only happened once.  Another gardener gave me a great tip and so I returned the favor with the gift of worms and some vermicompost (which included worm eggs).  When sharing or transporting worms, place them in a box or bag that has air holes, then add moist but not wet bedding.
  • Share a gift certificate – a co-worker of my husbands had gotten a gift certificate to a gardening store but wasn’t planning to use it as he was single and lived in an apartment.  The value of the certificate was large enough that I offered to share it with a neighbor.  We turned it  into a Girl’s Afternoon Out and enjoyed looking at all the plants an items in the store.  In the end we both got things we wanted, never would have bought ourselves, and had a great time looking around,  (Okay, this one did cost some gas, so may not technically be considered ‘free’ by everyone.)
  • There are sometimes ebooks that you can get for free.  The sharing of ebooks can be a bit tricky, legal wise.  In the case where I was able to gift them to others I checked before hand to make sure it was okay.  I also made sure the books I shared were ones I had not read.  If this is something you are thinking about doing, please check with your source first and clarify that the book(s) you are gifting are ones you have not read yet.  This can also be a great idea for a long distance gift with no shipping required.
  • worm found in old raised garden bed box

Here are some ideas, but may not necessarily be things I have tried.

  • Divide plants in your yard or garden.  If you are already needing to do this, why not wrap them in a cellophane bag, add a bow and a note saying what the plant is and how to take care of it.  If you don’t happen to have cellophane bags at home, look for a box or sandwich bag that will work.  You could even plant a bulb in an old coffee mug (just make sure it still looks good and isn’t cracked).
  • Share something you have two of – After calling a company asking about a missing piece to their product I just bought, they sent me the piece … in form of the whole product.  It was only a small piece I needed and in no way affected how the product worked, so I was surprised by them sending a whole brand new replacement.  They did not request I return the product I had bought, so I ended up with two of something I only needed one of.  This product was a nice one and would have made a great gift for someone.  (I wouldn’t have gifted the one with the small piece missing.  In the end I used the product in a different part of my yard.)
  • Autographed postcard from a Disney Character – I have seen mixed review on this, as to whether it has actually worked.  Noting that the expected turn around time is 4-6 weeks, if you are interested in doing this, then you will need to do it soon.  This one isn’t technically free as you will need to use a stamp to mail your letter. It is very close though, and takes some time, so I chose to include it in the list of free gift ideas.
  • If your garden is still producing, find information on how to save seeds from some of your plants.  Right now on my kitchen counter I have yellow squash, watermelon, and tomato seeds from plants this year.  A friend also keeps small sweet potatoes to use for slips.  Once correctly stored these will be great to use for next year.  They would also make a nice variety pack for a gardening friend or someone who is interested in starting out.  You may even swap some with other gardeners you know to increase the variety of plant seeds you have.  For wrapping, use an old gardening catalog.  Make envelopes or rip and glue pictures to the outside of a box.  Don’t forget to label the seeds.  Some can look very similar once they are outside the fruit (think yellow squash and zucchini, or roma tomato and beefsteak tomato, etc.).  🙂

This list is by no means all inclusive.  It’s intention is to get you thinking about ways you can give thoughtful gifts without spending a lot of money.

What are some gifts you have given in the past that were free or close to it?

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