The Spirit of Christmas Frugal

I came across a blog post by Missives from the Birdcage about stretching dollars in this exceedingly tight economic climate.  As the holiday season is upon us, it reminded me of the one Christmas when I did not shop in the usual Refugee method – recklessly.

The Christmas after I got married my wife and I decided that gift giving had lost touch with reality and we were going to be much more practical/frugal that year than last.  I had been making my own infused olive oils for cooking for sometime and we decided that if nicely packaged this would make a warm and very personal holiday gift for just about every one the list.

Garlic flavored olive oil was the easiest and fastest to make, but I had also been making: Basil, Jalapeño, Rosemary, and Truffle Oils*. We determined that there would be two tiers to the gift list – top tier recipients netted three bottles while those on the junior tier would get two.  I found some very nice glass bottles on line, made labels which read “Refugee & His Crazy Ex-Wife’s Infused Oils – Merry Christmas” Even with 55 people on the list that year, we averaged about $7 per person.

Infusing Instructions – this article does a better job than I would of explaining the process, and I am happy to provide any additional technical support via email.

What have you, the dozen loyal readers, done to cut costs in years past or are you planning to do this year?


*Only a few people were on the Truffle Oil distribution list or the cost would have been prohibitive.  


12 Responses to The Spirit of Christmas Frugal

  1. LiLu says:

    What a fantastic idea. I need to start getting more domestic, I guess… I always end up giving everyone booze. That I did not infuse myself. HMMMM… open brain insert lightning!

    This really is super easy, and just think of all of the creative ways you can use the accidental oil spills in the kitchen can bottle the oils.

  2. lacochran says:

    I’ll take the garlic basil, please.

    Just kidding.

    Great idea.

    I have at times done crafts (marbled scarves, embroidered towels, etc.) Not this year. Too lazy. I’ll be spending a fortune. Maybe two.

    I love the notion of gifts made rather than purchased, and your order is duly noted.

  3. Fearless says:

    This year my coping strategy is to ignore the fact that Christmas is coming, and hope that it passes me by completely, much like I did with Thanksgiving. If I don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist, right?

    In years past though, I have been known to give away baked goods. Christmas baking is the one tradition that has survived in my family (guilt doesn’t count as a tradition) and everyone loves cookies.

    One thing that I miss about the restaurant business is working on all major holidays – it made ignoring their personal implications so much easier.

  4. Lisa says:

    This sounds like a delicious present, and given your love of cooking, so very you. I LOVE homemade presents. The people I’m closest to have gotten dyed and screen printed scarves over the last few years but at this point, while I love scarves and wear them almost every even moderately cold day, there are only so many you can give to the same people. I’ve been trying to think of other things I can make (that don’t require a lot of sewing, which I hate) but have come up short.

  5. lemmonex says:

    This is a fabulous idea…one I am really considering. Thanks for this.

  6. What a wonderful gift idea! I wish I had some talent. Any talent. But no.

    Hubby and I will not exchange gifts this year and will limit the amount we spend on the boys. I’m definitely a bargain shopper and prefer to get them one nice gift rather than a bunch of junk. My boss and some others will receive something home baked – whatever I can come up with! For H’s babysitter, I’ve purchased a nice but inexpensive bowl that I’ll fill with fruit and baked goodies for her family. That’s about as creative as I can get.

  7. Michelle says:

    great idea! i think i may try the garlic one 😀 thanks!

  8. kathleen says:

    I’m making candy this year, and delivering them in canvas bags that will have some sort of fabric paint (hoping that this is as good a reality as it is an idea) stencil.

  9. Kofi Bofah says:

    We are looking for creative ways to save money this holiday season.

  10. Vittoria says:

    I so want rosemary infused olive oil right now. With freshly baked Italian bread. This sounds amazing.

    This year is even more penny pinched than usual – that means no gratuitous Christmas gifts. Only for my family. And they aren’t getting the usual elaborate tickets and dinner and wonderfulness. Just cutsy thoughtful gifts. Sigh.

  11. brookem says:

    this is a great idea. wonder if id be able to pull it off. is it easy for sometimes culinary clutz’s like myself?
    mmmm jalapeno!

  12. Julia says:

    My friends and I started a tradition in college where we moved Christmas to mid-January. We’re all too busy [and poor] to have any sort of party/gift-giving event in December that this just makes sense… and we get to make use of all the post-Christmas sales 🙂

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