9/27/2013 6:00:00 AM PRACTICAL SAVER: Consumable gifts are a win-win for giver, recipient
KARA ROZENDAAL Courier Columnist
With Christmas just a few months away, our family is rethinking the way we give gifts. For the past eight years, we have enjoyed making all of our presents and having a "homemade" Christmas. But this season, we will be traveling over the holidays, as well as having some family members in the process of downsizing (who really don't want any more "stuff"!). So, we are searching for an alternative.
One of the possibilities is a "consumable Christmas." The gifts given with this theme would be items that can be consumed or used up, such as food or services. This can be a fun, economical and thoughtful way to approach holiday gift-giving. Below are some ideas for a "consumable Christmas."
The first thought is a gift of a prepared meal. Simply place all the items necessary for the meal in a basket or bag, including the recipe. Then, add a few decorations and deliver the final masterpiece as your gift. Resale and thrift stores are an excellent source for quality, economical baskets. Fajitas are our favorite "meal in a bag." In the basket we place a jar of turkey that we canned (store bought canned chicken also works well), fresh bell peppers, an onion, tortillas, a baggie of taco seasoning, and of course, the recipe.
Another idea that would fall into this theme is giving multiple freezer meals. A helpful book that teaches how to make and freeze multiple meals is, "Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer," by Susie Martinez. By shopping the sales and using coupons, this can be an economical gift that will be a treat for months to come for the lucky recipient.
A bowl of items to accompany a movie would also make a creative, consumable gift. In a large popcorn bowl, attractively arrange a couple of boxes of microwave popcorn, popcorn seasonings, and individual packets of hot chocolate mix. Delicious!
Gift cards to restaurants also make "appetizing" gifts. There are a couple of tricks, however, to stretching the budget with this idea. One would be to use credit card reward points to acquire gift cards. Another option is to watch for Fry's or Safeway when they offer bonus fuel points when gift cards are purchased. When a total of $100 in gift cards is purchased during a 4x reward point promotion, a $.40 off per gallon discount can be earned. The reward is typically for a maximum of 25 to 35 gallons, but that can save you $14 on a full fill-up.
Teenagers love iTunes. An iTunes gift card would be an appropriate consumable gift for the teens on your list, as well as fuel cards (parents also benefit from this one), eBay or Amazon gift cards, bowling gift certificates, or a Harkins popcorn T-shirt and/or soda cup (shirts provide free popcorn all year long and the cups make soda refills $1.50).
Several weeks of delivered hot meals would also be a thoughtful gift. Ask the recipient what kinds of meals they enjoy, don't care for, as well as any food allergies they might have. Prepare a calendar with dates when the meals will be delivered, then in a cute card, explain that for the next six weeks you will be delivering a home-cooked meal.
Another option is to make your "signature" delicacy. My sister-in-law is nearly famous for her amazing caramel popcorn. Receiving a bag of her caramel corn is a huge treat. Years ago, my Grandma Murphy would provide coffee cans full of homemade noodles. There was nothing that the family members looked forward to more than seeing the can of noodles under the tree.
Stepping away from the food theme, greeting cards are useful for everyone and are a unique consumable gift. You can purchase them or make them yourself. There are easy instructions for making adorable greeting cards on the PracticalSaver.com website under the menu heading, "Tips & Ideas."
I believe a consumable Christmas will fit in well with our budget; it can be creative, the gifts will be thoughtful, and the time invested will be manageable. I am excited to develop the theme as ideas continue to formulate. I would love to hear your ideas; email me at email@example.com.
Kara Rozendaal, a financial planner, wife and homeschool mother of three has lived in Prescott Valley for 16 years. Learn more about her classes and ways to save money at www.PracticalSaver.com.