Sunday, December 11, 2011

What to do for clutter bugs for Christmas?

Give them food, of course. There are baskets out there already put together with gourmet jerky for exorbitant prices, or fruit for merely outrageous. There's the Omaha steak option, if you can afford it, and the Fruit of the Month clubs.

Frankly, that's totally out of our budget. Especially since my whole family tends to be clutter bugs.

Don't get me wrong--I understand why. Most of my family are on a fixed income, the rest on near-minimum wage. And they own property they really can't afford to pay taxes on or take care of, can't budget (or stick to one, when they try to set one), and can't plan ahead well enough to be able to predict "unexpected" expenses, like oil changes. They almost have to keep everything--they're not able to predict what they'll need to fix something that breaks, so they wind up throwing away exactly the part they'd need.

With examples like that, I don't know how I wound up even as functional as I am.

So. I'm on a very tight budget, this year, and want to do treat baskets for my family (Mom & sister are planned for--three other households to take care of). Best I can do is buy everything separately and assemble them myself.

I'm starting with a partial ten-pound bag of naval oranges--we got it to make cranberry relish before Thanksgiving*, so I don't figure that into the cost of the basket. And a pomegranate apiece for each of two households (again, kind of got a box of four partially for me, so it isn't figured into the cost). Found a six pound box of really good pretzels (six 1 lb bags in the box) that I got to go with sandwiches at home, and plan to use that as filler. I also thought that I might assemble a few little bags of pre-mixed spice packets for whole roast chicken rub that I use, and maybe some homemade hot cocoa mix.

Now, into the things that I'm going to have to buy. I can get a 10 pound bag of apples for under $5, so a bag of those will go into the baskets I'm going to be assembling. My relatives love avocados and guacamole, so I can get a bag of those to split between the households. I suppose a gift basket can't be complete without cheese, so one relative will get some jack with habanero, another will get the jack with pesto, another will get garlic and herb--out of a cheese wheel with four types in individually wrapped quarters.

Last, I'll likely look through the produce section at our local Wal-Mart to find some little things to finish out the baskets to individualize them. I don't have any idea what I'll look for, or find, yet.

And yes, I do already have the baskets for them. You wouldn't believe how much of that crap my family already has, and how much they're sure I'll love (I don't). Or how quickly they forget where the baskets came from, so re-gifting in my family isn't a problem--I swear, they can hide their own Easter eggs (or buy their own Christmas presents, and it'll still be a surprise).

So, no, I don't have my Christmas shopping done, yet. I probably should wait for at least a little while longer, too, to make sure the fruit is as fresh as possible.

Great. I'll have to shop with the crazy people that wait until the last minute.

Oh, by the way, here's the recipe I referenced earlier. It's one of my favorite treats.

*Cranberry-Orange Relish
1 lb cranberries, sorted & washed
1 orange, with peel, quartered
1 c sugar

Combine in blender or food processor. Run appliance until this is the consistency of pickle relish (or finer). Add sugar, if needed. This is really good on club crackers, or biscuits.


  1. No problem, Stephen. If I could make a basket for the Little Bit, it would have a new book (one of my favorites at that age was Stand Back, Said the Elephant, I'm Going to Sneeze), some Cutie oranges (if she likes them), and maybe some juice boxes or something.

  2. My favorite blogging word this time of year is BAH HUMBUG.

    The truth be known, I have little use for XMAS...never have.

    I am not religious, even though
    the religious meaning of XMAS
    has vanished!

    Anyway, you get my point.

  3. I do food gifts for relatives for the opposite reason: they keep so few things that I want to give them something that won't wind up at the Goodwill in six months.

    I've also done stuff like stealthily give gift-cards for people who are having a down financial year, that way they can either use it to cover necessities or buy little luxuries they might not otherwise get.

    I do nearly all the shopping that I do online, for the very reason that people go CRAZY this time of year. I've seen a lot of hateful human behavior in the malls and the shops in December...which I'm sure would make Baby Jesus cry. Season of goodwill, indeed.

  4. OCM--I do believe, and strongly; however, I hate this time of year. I hate the crazy materialism, and I hate crowds. And I hate the way my family puts up their decorations just after Halloween and leaves them up sometimes until March (one year, the only thing I asked for my birthday in early March was that the Christmas crap went away).

    Ricki--most of the time, most of my Christmas shopping is done online. This year, however, I don't have the funds free to do that. (Neither does my mother, but she's still spending three times what I'm spending--and on everybody, not just the little ones.)

  5. Ah. I see. My condolences.

    If you can get out to one of those 24-hour or opening-early places early in the morning, it's a little bit less hellish. It seems most of the really awful entitlement-minded rude people don't get up and around before 9 am.

  6. Most of what I'm planning can be gotten at Sam's Club--and the Advantage Plus memberships let us in with the businesses, long before the regular customers. Lets us stay later, too. As for the rest...well, the kids have been getting us up between seven and half past, so before 9 isn't as much of a stretch as it used to be.


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