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Celebrating a Memorable Christmas on a Zero-Dollar Budget

Guest post by Brandy from

Many are wondering how they are going to celebrate Christmas this year. For them, there simply isn’t money for gifts. If that’s you this year, I have some suggestions to give you hope—and to help you give a few gifts to your family, without spending any money.

Just because you don’t have money to buy gifts doesn’t mean you can’t give anything. Look at what you already have. Do you have the ingredients to make candy or cookies? Those treats can go in stockings. Do you have items in your pantry or cupboards?

Don’t overlook the simple things. A child may love having her own bottle of shampoo, lotion, or a new toothbrush. Have you been buying clothes ahead of time at garage sales, or saving hand-me-downs from friends? Pull out a “new” clothing item for a child and wrap it up.

Look at what you already have that can be re-purposed. An old shirt, sweater, or sheets provides ample fabric for a gift (and don’t overlook the leather or vinyl on an old purse!) Don’t worry if there are holes; simply cut out your pattern around them.

You can make pajamas from a flannel sheet, or a hat and gloves from an old sweater. An old fitted sheet includes elastic that can be part of a skirt, and there’s enough left to make a nightgown, slippers, a headband, handkerchiefs, a doll, and cloth napkins for your Christmas table.

An old shirt can become a skirt, a jumper, a tie, a child’s toy, doll clothes, a scarf, or a purse. If you don’t have a sewing machine, ask someone you know if you can borrow one. (You may be surprised at how many offers will come your way when you put the word out!) Just a needle and thread is sufficient to make something. There are lots of very simple, free tutorials online.

Use a pair of needle-nosed pliers to remake an old unmatched earring into a necklace (perhaps on a ribbon for a chain). Turn popsicle sticks, dental floss, and cotton swabs into a miniature bow and arrows. Use what you have in a new way.

Give the gift of time. Most people, and especially your children, just want time. You can print up coupon books with promised activities, such as 10 cooking (sewing, knitting, painting, etc.) lessons with mom, or five stay-up-late game nights with parents.

Make your holiday bright with new traditions. Take the time to make cookies together, play games, pull taffy, read stories, and sing carols. Enjoy Christmas in ways you never have, and you will find that this may be your best Christmas yet.

Brandy writes at where you can find details and more information on how to make the items pictured and mentioned in this post, along with many more ideas for giving without spending.

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128 Comments

  • says:

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  • Penelope says:

    This year we are having a homemade Christmas, as much out of necessity as for an experience for our children/selves. Thank you so much for your links as I have been able to use many of them to help me with ideas/tutorials this year. I have used hand-me-down clothing from neighbors for fabric, as well as that “stash” I have. My husband has taken wood scraps laying around and has built a few things as well. I am enjoying it for the most part… just concerned about time.

    And thank you, Brandy, for the crepe idea at your site. I’ve been trying to figure out a faster way to replace tortillas in our meals with less effort. Tortillas are rather time consuming to produce, and crepes should take their place nicely.

    And I make ribbon bookmarks with beaded charms on the ends, but you could use bias tape, or bias cut fabric that was topstiched, and use those orphan earrings as charms. I’ve done that too.

    Merry Christmas!

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