This is a variation on an earlier post. Gail often reworked a topic for publishing in other places. This appeared on Squidoo’s website. Some of these gifts are ones you can get ready the day before Christmas using what you have at home.
Giving Gifts without Spending Too Much
Seniors can find gift-giving occasions difficult when their budget won’t stretch to buy one more thing. Here are some gift ideas that won’t put a strain that Social Security income.
Most of these I’ve tried out myself and can assure you were well-received. A little imagination and a lot of love will make your gift the one they treasure. With six children, eight grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren, the Christmas and birthday gift giving was a challenge. Seniors living only on Social Security must apply creativity in their gift giving to keep it affordable.
Give a Family Treasure when you can’t afford to go shopping
Think about things you have stashed away unused. We no longer decorate a tree at Christmas, but we still have boxes and boxes of special ornaments. I can give one to each person on my gift list. I’ll gain some storage space and they’ll gain a family heirloom for their Christmas tree.
Give the Gift of Memories
Grandparents’ memories make a precious gift
Write down a special memory of the day they were born or about something you did with them or their parent. Print it out or write it by hand on nice paper to give them. Slip it in a plastic sleeve to preserve it. If you write a new memory for their birthdays and Christmas, eventually they will have enough to fill a binder.
Here’s One of My Grandchildren’s Family History Books
That I compiled with my writing over the years
A family history notebook created by Gail Lee Martin for her son, Owen.
Vintage Books Make Great Gifts
from a senior citizen
Look on your bookshelf. Is there a book there that has special meaning to you? Write a note explaining what is meaningful to you about the book and give it to someone on your list. They will enjoy reading it, knowing that you selected it especially for them.
Books on Clyde and Gail’s bookshelf.
Everyone Loves Grandma and Grandpa’s Baking
Food gifts to give when you’re on a tight budget
Make up a batch of your popular candy or cookie recipe and package it up to give to the children and grandchildren. Just a small amount on a paper plate (dessert size) and covered with plastic wrap lets them know you were thinking of them.
Attach the recipe to the gift.
To make it extra special, put them on a plate or platter that has been in the family for many years. They get a family heirloom, some of your great cooking, and you gain some space in your overcrowded cupboard.
What Do You Collect?
Look at your collections. Chances are you aren’t adding to the collection anymore. It may be just one more thing to dust.
We collected Norman Rockwell mugs for many years. If we give one to each family member, they will think of us each time they use it. We also collected Feather Bird Pictures. They used to cover the wall of my dining room but now sit in a box in the closet.
Another thing I collected was vintage aprons. I used these when giving a talk to homemaker groups or at nursing homes. At some point, you may decide not to keep a certain collection anymore. Consider giving them as gifts to family members.
Even if you are not on a Social Security budget, you might want to try some of these ideas.
Give Me Some More Thrifty Ideas
for gift-giving on a Social Security budget
1angelsbestkeptsecrets Mar 27, 2014 – What wonderful ideas! I think the sentimentality and specialness of gifts like this would please most all family members.
- karendd123 Nov 26, 2013 – These are really good ideas. They are thoughtful and economical. Growing flowers from seeds or cuttings can make good gifts too.
- ewyorkdude Oct 14, 2013 – I can’t remember the last time I bought a greeting card. Homemade greeting cards make a much better impression than the store-bought kind. Most people tend to keep them longer. I will never be a professional artist (my work is more like Picasso on a bad day). But no matter how awkward my drawings are on my cards, people appreciate them.
rinMellor Oct 11, 2013 – These are wonderful ideas. A few handwritten family recipes would be a real treat too.
knowledgetoday Oct 08, 2013 – I think the greatest gift from grandma or grandpa to family members or friends is memories brought together in a creative way. And if creativity is not available giving a gift of what the other person has wanted for many years means much to the receiver.
MarcellaCarlton Oct 01, 2013 – I loved each idea! This is a great lens for those of us who are experiencing the pinch at any time.
- Cercis Sep 30, 2013 – What a wonderful lens! I like the memory book idea the best. Another thought is to shop at a thrift store – either neighborhood or one of the more established ones – to pick up almost new items for pennies.
- WhyCleanCounts Aug 05, 2012 – great ideas, good lens topic for anyone that needs to stick to a budget around the holidays.
dpgibble Jul 06, 2012 – I was exploring Squidoo for ideas when your page caught my eye. Curious, I stopped and found a direct connection to vallain who was the first or one of the first visitors to my first lens. Since our family survives on disability income along with a dollar here and there that we hustle up, celebrating Christmas on a budget piques my interest. We picked wild grapes last year and made pint jars of jelly from them. This produced about two dozen gifts with cash out at less than $25. People really liked this gift!
Gail-Lee-Martin Jul 06, 2012 – Homemade gifts are the best, in my opinion.
- LiteraryMind Mar 16, 2012 – Good idea. Meaningful gifts are more special than anything money can buy.
MiddleSister Feb 21, 2012 – I like the cookies idea.
Gail’s daughter, Virginia, shares a memory.
Make your own play kitchen
When my little sister was eight, Mom made a play kitchen for a big Christmas gift for her. The play kitchen appliances were made from large cardboard boxes. Just decorate them with paint that you have around and felt-tipped markers. There was a “stove” and a “refrigerator” plus shelves for storing the “food.”
The play food for the play kitchen started out as real food for the family. When Mom shopped for groceries, she bought small sizes of boxes and cans of regular food. She opened the cans from the bottom and washed out the interior. They looked like child-sized versions of real food sitting in the play kitchen cupboards. Nothing was wasted, as we ate the food. There were small cans of fruit juice and single-serving boxes of raisins.
I still remember how much fun my sister had playing with those cans and boxes and her cardboard appliances. The empty containers looked colorful and realistic on the shelves.
The house we lived in then had a large basement, so there was plenty of room for the kid-sized kitchen down there.
Melissa & Doug Grocery Cans Play Food – 10 Stackable CansView DetailsKidKraft Ultimate Corner Play Kitchen with Lights & SoundsView Details
The play kitchen and play foods above are available from Amazon. Of course, you can just make your own, like Mom did for Shannon.
Gail Lee Martin submitted this recipe when the local historical society wanted recipes from the 1920s and 1930s. It appeared in the book, Grandmother’s Legacy: A Collection of Butler County Recipes.
Homemade Lye Soap
5 lbs of grease
1 quart of water
1 can of lye
Save clean fat scraps from meat, lard, and hog scraps. Melt into the grease. Strain through a cloth and let cool. Add the lye gradually to one quart of water in a stone crock and mix until dissolved. Pour this mixture into the grease. Stir thoroughly until congealed. Pour this mixture into cardboard box molds to cool. Let stand a couple of days. Using a wire, cut the soap into usable size pieces.
Recipe Notes: On wash days, my mother would use her paring knife to shave slivers of this soap into her copper wash boiler where it slowly dissolved. Clothes came out very white in those days. It was also used as a poison ivy medicine. Melt and put warm all over the blisters.
To find lye, look for Sodium hydroxide. It is also called caustic soda. Store it safely, as it is quite toxic if ingested.
In 2010, Gail Lee Martin wrote this how-to article for the eHow site.
How to Use Old Bottles for Vases
Things You’ll Need:
- old bottles
- soap and water
- GooGone (optional)
I have a thing about glass, especially colored glass bottles. Some of this might come from my father and grandfather, who worked in the Tyro Glass Plant in the early 1900s.
But my own memories of colored glass bottles began in the early days in the oilfields in northern Greenwood County. Most of the bottles we had were ones we saved after using the contents or were found at the camp’s trash dump in a nearby gully. My mother would pick wild flowers for bouquets to put in the dinky rooms of the shot-gun house we lived in at the Phillip’s Petroleum Company’s oilfield camp.
Mother had a tall brown bottle that she used for sunflowers, daisies, and cattails. Mother and I collected all kinds of dried weeds that looked great in this type of vase.
Photo by Virginia Allain
I think it was possibly a beer bottle but to Mother, it was just a unique brown bottle. Because of its height, you need taller flowers or grasses to balance the look.
She had several blue colored bottles of different shapes and sizes. A small blue perfume bottle was used for wild rose buds or the tiny, pale lavender sheep-shower blooms. The taller blue, flat bottles were so pretty filled with wild asters.
Some of the blue colored ones had contained Milk-of-Magnesium at one time. The Vicks VapoRub came in a squat, blue jar with a wide mouth. I loved to float blossoms in them. My parents grew hollyhocks and just one blossom would spread out across the top, completely covering the bottle except for the shiny blue bottom.
Photo by Virginia Allain
For larger bouquets, Mother would get out one of her green canning jars that currently are so coveted by antique dealers. The opening in this type of container was much larger than most bottles. The long woody stems of the wild gooseberry with tiny yellow blossoms were spectacular in this tall green jar. When we set this bouquet on the library table in front of the south window, the Kansas sun shone through the glass adding sparkle to the arrangement.
Tips & Warnings
Soak the bottles to remove the labels. GooGone
helps get off the adhesive.
Wash the inside of the bottle.
The taller, slimmer bottles are easily knocked over, so put them where they won’t get bumped.
Gail’s collection of vintage green canning jars
Laundry was a big chore with eight people in the Martin family. The wringer washer and the washtubs for rinse water moved to the middle of the farmhouse kitchen on wash day. Baskets of wet, heavy clothing, as well as sheets, and towels were lugged out to the clothesline, hung up with the wooden clothespins, and later brought back inside.
On freezing days, it was difficult to gather the stiff, contorted clothing, shaped by the Kansas wind. We thawed them inside, but of course, they were still damp. Actually, the dampness made them just right for ironing.
Since wash day was such a process, Mom opted for a simple meal. Often it was a pot of navy bean soup. She soaked the beans overnight, rinsed them, then let them simmer all day long. For supper, freshly baked cornbread slathered with butter accompanied the hearty bean soup.
This all came to my mind today as I made a huge pot of bean soup using the ham bone left from New Year’s Day dinner. I use a package of 15 kinds of beans. Here’s my 15 bean soup recipe. I’m sure Mom would have loved it.
Virginia Allain’s 15-bean soup