Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cost Cutting Christmas Gifts

Times are tough, I don't have to tell anyone that. But what makes it feel even worse is when its Christmas time, Christmas is the time of the year when people are always compelled to splurge and shop and give great gifts to their friends and family. While the idea is great most people end up going overboard and putting themselves in debt. Which I have been known to do myself in the past. Its hard to limit myself. I want to give the people that I love and care about lots of things, the things that they want and that I know would be a very special and extravagant gesture. However I just can't afford to do that anymore. And as much as it hurts me, I know it would hurt much worse if I went ahead and made those large purchases. And then in turn it would hurt those friends and family as well because the financial struggle would be evident in the coming months. So no this year I'm sticking to my game plan and my budget. Instead of going out and getting each of my bosses and coworkers and then there's the lil monster's daycare teachers, ah the list goes on, $20 gifts a piece I cut back drastically. I decided to make homemade gifts and take my chance at doing some home canning. A task I'll admit had seemed like too much work, a little hokey and well kind of gross. I mean I grew up on Smuckers! But instead of doing pickles or jam, I found this great chutney recipe. (Yes the recipe I made for Thanksgiving) It was such a hit and I've bought chutney for friends as gifts before, so why not try my hand at it.

Let me tell you, this was the easiest present I've made! Literally it took less than an hour from start to finish and cost less than $20 for 6 jars! That's 6 people for under $20! I just used a big pot I had to boil the jars (which I had purchased for $7) instead of using a canner. I followed the recipe like usual and when it was complete I pulled the hot jars out of the water and filled the jars up. Put the lids back on and then sat them all back into the pot of water. Made sure the water covered the tops and let it boil for about 15 to 20 minutes. I didn't have a rack to lift the jars out of the water so that was fun trying to use a pair of tongs, but it worked. I sat the hot jars on a towel and let them cool overnight.

Instead of spending any money on wrapping my gifts I went "green" and used brown paper lunch sacks as my bags and went without the waste of tissue paper. I printed some cute holiday labels and placed them on the front of the paper bags. Then I printed out the nutritional information and some sample uses along with a recipe to use the chutney with. A simple homemade heartfelt gift that I know my friends will enjoy. And instead of breaking the bank I stayed in my budget!

Of course you can use any chutney recipe you find but I used the Cranberry-Pear Chutney from CookingLight. And then I found some helpful tips on canning at BellaOnline. I hope you all have happy and fun holidays!

1 comment:

Lamaster said...

What a great idea! I might try my hand at this next holiday season.