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Think outside the box for Christmas gifts

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This time of the year, money can be tight with all of the added expenses, like gifts, food, travel and parties. I am constantly trying to come up with gift ideas that are meaningful but inexpensive.

It’s such a magical time of year, so I hate stressing over how much everything will cost for me and my family. I love a good DIY (do it yourself) gift. I have come up with a few of my favorites in hopes that it helps everyone save a few dollars this year.

The first and my favorite idea is a gift basket. I am all about couponing, right? Let’s put those coupons to good use. Do you have a new college student in your family? Make him or her a small basket with cleaning supplies in it. Clorox wipes, laundry detergent and paper towels that you got at an amazing deal using coupons — wrap them up and give them as a gift.

Maybe someone in your family recently had a baby. Let’s be honest; a 2-month-old does not need toys for Christmas. Parents need wipes and diapers for that baby. You can get diapers and wipes at a great deal using coupons. Be creative and stack the diapers up in the shape of a Christmas tree with packs of wipes as the star. You can get super creative and add ribbon or wrap the boxes in green paper. Better yet, you could make the boxes into a snowman; the possibilities are endless.

These types of gifts are great because most of the time they are needed and the most appreciated. When our kids were little I loved getting diapers as their gifts; we definitely needed them.

Another DIY gift that I like to do is have the kids help make treats for our neighbors. This is a great way to get the kids involved in holiday giving and baking. This time of year all baking products are on sale, and the coupons that match them can be found in the paper or online. You can usually get these items very cheap: cookie mix, cake mix, frosting — everything you need to make a great holiday treat.

There are not many things my kids like more than putting on their aprons and helping Mommy bake treats. The best thing for this mama is seeing my kids take the treats to our neighbors and giving them the sweetest hugs.

Christmastime is about more than the gifts. It is about the thought that goes into the gift. If you are helping struggling new parents buy wipes for their baby or if you are brightening up a neighbor’s day with your 2-year-old handing them horribly decorated cookies, it does not matter. It’s all about the spirit of giving and being with each other that makes the difference. This Christmas, let’s try not to stress so much on the cost of the gift but more about the thought of the gift. You don’t need to break the bank to prove your love for someone.

Chelsey Edens writes a money-saving monthly column for Restoration NewsMedia.