About the Author

Jen encourages women to embrace both the beauty and bedlam of their everyday lives at BeautyandBedlam.com. A popular speaker, worship leader, and author of Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, Jen lives in North Carolina with her husband, five children, and a sofa for anyone...

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  2. Thank you Jennifer. These are fabulous ideas! I am going to take your advice and do the home baking for the neighbors/my daughter’s teachers and purchase some holiday containers at our local dollar store.

  3. Several years ago, we sat down and talked about doing Christmas a little differently on my mom’s side of the family. We put spending limits in place, and everyone (except my grandmother) follows them. 🙂 The limit is … $10 per person for the “adults” and $20 per person/couple for the grandkids. It ends up costing each family about $80 AND we have a ton of fun shopping for inexpensive gifts throughout the year. My favorite gift that I’ve gotten since we started doing this is a box of books that my aunt put together after shopping for several months at thrift stores and garage sales … it literally lasted me throughout the whole year! We also started doing “dirty Santa” where we swap gag gifts from home … no purchasing allowed! The best part about all of this, though, is the the fun times we have with each other. 🙂

  4. My parents are only doing useful gifts this year. I don’t know yet what that entails, but I’m all for it. My little family (husband, son, and I) are doing a handmade Christmas for our family and friends. I’ll bake everyone a loaf of bread, give everyone a jar of homemade apple butter, and include a package of homebaked cookies. We’ll package them in cute (cheap) baskets or bags. I am stocking up on ingredients now to stretch out the small expense; I buy a couple of necessary ingredients every trip to the store. I know everyone will enjoy homemade gifts!

  5. All inspiring ideas. This year our main gift to our children is travel so presents under the tree are limited. Love the three kings, three presents idea. Enjoyed the post and the pictures.

  6. I love your DIY coffee bar! What a great idea! This year I am trying to make more homemade stuff as gifts. Not only is it easier on the budget, but honestly most of the people in my life don’t need more “stuff”. I want to spend the Holidays enjoying genuine relationship time and giving to people who really need it. Thanks for this post!

    If you are looking for some more good ideas for homemade gifts, I listed a few out in this post last week- http://www.creatinghomejournal.com/2011/10/15/simple-christmas/

  7. Great ideas! We are not going home for Christmas this year, but I think it would still be fun to be a part of gift giving. I think that useful and handmade gifts will be a good way to go.

  8. I love those ideas, especially the coffee bar! This fits perfectly with the post I have scheduled for Monday on my blog about budgeting and having those sometimes hard conversations with spouses and family. Thanks for the extra ideas!

  9. This is a great article!! Thanks for sharing the great ideas! I just heard about the three kings gifts earlier this Fall and my husband and I have decided this is the approach that we are going to take in our family. 3 for each person in our immediate family and then 3 gifts for our “family gifts”–things/activities/games we can enjoy as a family throughout the holidays and the year.

    Another idea is to do smaller gifts for Christmas Day and then give a few more gifts on the Epiphany (12 days after Christmas Jan 6) when we celebrate the 3 Kings arriving to visit Jesus).

    We are also going to bring homemade goodies to our neighbors for Christmas and Halloween to share Jesus’ love for them. We will bring homemade goodies to the homeless shelter in our little town too for the holidays. Its not an easy time to be homeless and it keeps our eyes on helping and sharing the Gospel with others in need.

  10. We have done “3 Kings, 3 Gifts” for about 5 or 6 years now. Last year, on my mom’s side, we had a Handmade Christmas and it was a lot of fun. I’m not that crafty, so made food.

    I think that it’s so easy to focus on the commercial/material part of it, and it’s sad because it’s not about that at all.

    Thanks for the ideas for helping others! We need to do more of that.

  11. My BFF and I are only shopping at thrift stores. She told me today that she hit the jackpot for me yesterday. I have yet to find her anything!

  12. I never put Christmas on credit. My husband and I have a large extended family too. One of my ‘tricks’ is to shop year round for gifts and gift ideas. I spread the fiances over the year, shops sales (sometimes), buy gifts the person will use and like (because a previous conversation gave me the idea, hint :)), sometimes it gives me time to make the gift several months ahead of time.

    An old fashioned Christmas club is another way to make sure you have a no credit Christmas. As little as $5 a paycheck can add up throughout the year!

  13. For the last 5 years, we have done a homemade Christmas. I make the children’s gifts, mostly using items that I have on hand. My parents and my grandmother get home-canned goods (such as apple butter, jellies, and pickles). My husband and I don’t exchange gifts.

    I have 6 small children, so it’s a lot of sewing! Many items are useful articles of clothing. For example, this year I’m making flannel pajamas for my boys from some old flannel sheets that were gfted to us. I am also remaking some old pajamas to make them into pajamas for my 3-year-old.

    I also make fun things, such as dress-up clothes and toys for my children. This year I am planning to make doll clothing for the girls, a mountain man bag (from a leather apron I bought for $1 at a garage sale) and a rabbit skin (gift from my mother-in-law) quiver for one son, a dress-up cape for another son, some safe play bow and arrows for several of the children, and some necklaces for the girls.

    I’ve found a lot of wonderful tutorials for clothing and fun items online that incorporate items that you may already have (including repurposing clothing). I’ve put them together on two pages:

    Sewing patterns and ideas (doll clothes, skirts, dress-up, purses, puppets, etc) here:
    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/sewingforless.aspx

    Homemade gifts that aren’t sewing (paper dolls and toys, homemade toys, barrettes, free downloads, etc.) here:

    http://theprudenthomemaker.com/FrugalGifts.aspx

    Also on the page above is a link to guest post I wrote on Christmas on a Zero-Budget.

    By doing Christmas this way, we are able to give plenty of gifts within our means. The children love that I make things just for them, too.

  14. You have awesome ideas! I love their simplicity! I am one of those who never feel like I can host. My home just does not seem to match up to others in the decorating arena. I hope to use some of your ideas.
    I do give away homemade goodies (chocolates, jellies/butters, and cookies) to teachers and friends (have for years). They are very appreciative, often telling me they prefer it–there is only so many trinkets they can display over a career. Sometimes I am able to find discounted Christian gift books I add to the treats for an extra special gift.
    Thanks for the encouragement and great ideas!