Every year our family makes photo calendars as gifts for our family. When I say photo calendar, I mean we scrapbook the calendar page for each month. I create and print the calendar templates onto cardstock. Then we place 1 or 2 photos on each page, as well as small artwork by the kids, and some scrapbook decorations. We make 11 calendars, which includes 2 for our family. Obviously, buying 134+ photo prints is the larger expense of this project.
However, I just ordered this year's photos, as well as the photos of Baby V's birth (for her scrapbook) for FREE! We cashed in some Discover Card Rewards to get a $25 Shutterfly e-gift certificate. Then we were able to use two coupons at Shutterfly to get free shipping, and take $10 off our $30 order. I had to add a few more photos to get our total up to $24.89, and then paid with the $25 e-certificate. End result ... 221 FREE 4x6 photos!
I've also been using Swagbucks to earn $5 Amazon e-gift certificates. I'm saving them up to place an order for Christmas gifts soon. So far, I have $15 earned, and almost have my fourth $5 gift certificate. We'll stick to items that have Super Saver Shipping, and will reduce the expense of some of the gifts we're ordering for our family.
For our own children, we're using Paperbackswap, Swap a DVD, and Swap a CD to find gifts, as well. We've earned credits by mailing out some of our own CDs, DVDs, and mainly books to others. So for the cost of shipping out a book, movie, or CD I can find something else for our family instead. Sometimes it means parting with a book that I'm done with. Other times I admit that I think carefully and part with books I hadn't previously wanted to swap so I can accrue more credits. Most of the time, the items we receive are in like new condition and perfectly acceptable for gift-giving within our own family.
I have a few gifts I've actually picked up at yard sales this year. They're all new or like new items that show no signs of use or wear. I don't find those very often, but I am always watching for them. We also watch sales throughout the year and try to buy gifts early, when possible. This year we didn't do much early shopping, so we'll be watching the holiday sales instead to fill in the remaining gaps in our shopping list.
I'll even admit that I've set aside a few children's books I've received for review purposes this year to give as gifts to my younger children. I've also entered some blog giveaways, in the hopes of winning some gift items for the children. Thankfully, I have won a few items that went right into my gift closet. Though one of them arrived with the name of the company's website in the address, which spoiled that surprise. I still haven't decided what to do about that item.
I don't have time this year to create many hand-made gifts. I'd like to, but I have to be honest and admit that with a new baby and the Crew reviews, I'll only have time to complete the photo calendars for our family members. I have some ideas, including some I've created in the past, but no time.
We need to put new tires on our van before we do our holiday traveling, so we need to cut our costs this year. These little ways of saving money will help us have a nice Christmas, without accruing debt.
What do you do to save money at Christmas time? Or any gift-giving time?