It’s not about the Benjamin’s, baby.

Although giving a gift is a showing of affection and appreciation, there is a certain etiquette that should be followed. It can be tricky to figure out what is appropriate to give (ie the difference between your sister and your boss). Thankfully, Lauren Conrad posted an article on her blog that lays out the rules for appropriate gift giving, Ladylike Laws: Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette.

Her “rules” don’t come off as domineering, but more as helpful tips to ease the stress of certain situations. My favorite: don’t worry about giving something that has the same monetary value of what they gave you. Instead, figure out something nice that you can afford within your means. I know this comes off as a duh tip, but it never fails, each year I tend to stress about what to give certain people who I know always spend a lot of money on me. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone is in a different financial situation and doesn’t always have the same holiday budget. If you give something nice and sentimental, it will show you are being thoughtful and showing appreciation, without putting yourself into debt.

I used to always stress about what to give my Mother-In-Law every Christmas. She always showers us with amazing expensive gifts (Juicy Couture anyone?) and I always felt a pang of guilt for not giving something monetarily equivalent. But then I realized, she’s giving these awesome gifts not because she has to and not because she can, but it’s because she loves us more than anything. This realization was what got me started in DIY gift giving. Her love for my husband, daughter and I is what she cares most about. So I started making her sentimental gifts related to our family. This handprint keepsake was my inspiration for one of our gifts last year. I used my husband’s and daughter’s handprint, had them both sign the bottom, and put it in a nice frame (from Hobby Lobby when it was 50% off *wink*). She loved it! How do I know? Because she is an amazing decorator and only has extremely nice high end things displayed. Where is this handprint keepsake? In the middle of her fireplace mantel, only the most eye drawing place in the living room. Score!

It’s not about how much you spend, but how much you show you care. This Christmas, we are going to make a 49 Reasons Why I Love You card display. Each card will have a different reason of love and it will be filled with quotes from me, my husband, and my daughter. She inspires each of us in different ways, and I’m excited to put all our loving thoughts into this one.

49 reasons

She’s probably going to cry, maybe I should gift some tissues too! What sentimental gift have you made for your loved ones?

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Substitute your imagination for your money

Christmas is coming! It’s time to put out the lights, put up the tree, and pull out your wallet. Wait, what?


It’s probably no surprise to you that Christmas is the biggest shopping season of the year. We have to buy for everyone on our list, and how can we resist doing a little shopping for ourselves what with all the great deals retailers (online and instore) are offering.

According to IBIS World, $228.4 billion was spent on holidays in 2010 (which includes spending on food, gifts and parties related to holiday events). $135.16 billion was spent at Christmas, which is estimated to account for 59.2% of sales alone and Christmas gifts account for at least 47.2% of total sales. That’s a lot of money.

Check out this video from msn.com. Reporter Stacy Johnson says it best, “Christmas is a magical time of year. It’s when your money magically goes from your pocket to someone elses cash register”. With the average American spending around $1,000 each year on Christmas gifts, it makes sense. And this amount has gradually increased each year. When is it too much? The video gives 5 tips to save during the Christmas season, number 5 being, do something for someone. Being able to substitute your imagination for your money puts the benjamins back in your wallet.

Janey Osterlind, a contributer at WiseBread.com, says to Make Something for the people on your gift list. “I’m not suggesting that you knit sweaters as Christmas gifts (unless you actually are talented at knitting and have some sort of fashion sense). Making a Christmas gift that is appreciated and used requires some creative thinking and knowledge of the recipient. A little thought could produce a pretty awesome gift while also saving you money.”


Some of you may only have a couple of people on your list, and some of you may have to unroll a scroll, so I’ve included this great link from thehappyhousewife.com, 100 Homemade Christmas Gifts.  “Homemade Christmas gifts don’t have to look like they came out of your 3 year-old’s Sunday School class. There are some amazing homemade gift ideas that can be made by real-life moms on a real-life budget!” My favorite, a DIY book on “tape”. Genius!