Monday, November 2, 2009

Planning for Christmas

We always fill our weekends with way too many activities, plans, and goals. This weekend was no different; however, I accomplished so many things that I’m beginning to feel giddy. I finished making the jam two weeks ago, and I made three loaves of bread and a batch of yeast rolls Saturday. I finished another Morsbag, and we took the girls to Houston Grand Opera for the second weekend in a row, this time to see Lohengrin. We really enjoyed it, but I don't think I will see live opera two weekends in a row again anytime soon. Especially not when one of them is Wagner. Holy cow.

I’ve now completed six out of twelve Morsbags for our Christmas project. Basically, I'm going handmade this Christmas. For all our parental and sibling sets and for our close friends, I'm making each family a Morsbag. So far, I've made one bag from fat quarters I had, four from a large-ish scrap of cloth I found in my craft room, and one from an IKEA pillowcase. The remaining six probably will be made from the rest of the IKEA sheet set. It cost $1.99, and I bought it to use in place of fabric on a different project.

We'll stuff each bag with a jar of homemade local jam, a bar of homemade soap, a hand-packed beer bread kit, hand-dipped chocolate spoons, homemade hot cocoa mix, and a mini-loaf of my homemade bread. If the girls feel like it, they can bake cookies or brownies or cookie bars and add those to the gift bags.

The Morsbags are by far the most time-consuming aspect of the gifts. Each one takes about an hour to make by myself, and neither of my girls knows how to sew or how to iron precisely enough for machine sewing. Of course, after a while, my ironing isn't terribly precise, either.

In the spirit of the Under $1,000 per Month blog, I calculated the cost of our gift bags vs. their value. The fabric for the bags themselves I consider free for two reasons. First, I already had the fabric in the house; likely, I've had it for a few years. Second, by using up the fabric, I'm saving on the cost of a decluttering professional to save me from my crafty hoarding tendencies.

  • Reusable grocery bags are usually on sale 10 for $10 at the grocery store, so I'll call it $1/each. My cost: $0.
  • A half-pint of homemade jam probably could fairly cost $3. My cost: $1.88/jar (including the cost of the jar)
  • A bar of homemade soap from Miss Hannah's Handmade Soap would cost $5 - $7, so we'll call it $6 even. My cost: About $2 (and many thanks to Miss Hannah herself for her kindness and generosity in teaching me.
  • I last saw beer bread mixes sold at a craft fair for $7 in a baggie or $10 in a beer bottle (a cute gimmick to be sure). I'll call that $7 because I won't be using beer bottles. My cost: $0.25
  • A six-piece chocolate spoon set was $6.50 on Etsy. My cost: $0.60
  • I found a three-serving set of hot cocoa mixes on Etsy for $6. My cost: $0.31
  • Finally, it disturbs a bit to say, but I found homemade bread on Etsy for $12 a loaf. Mine are mini-loaves, so I'll call them $3 a loaf. My cost: $0.34
So I will spend about $5.38 per family while giving each family a gift valued at $32.50. My family will love receiving these handmade gifts that they can eat and enjoy. Most of our family and close friends are very green-conscious and will love having their own Morsbag. And noone has to coo over another Christmas figurine that they didn't want and now can't re-gift.

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