"A Christmas Secret,"
children's story by Susan Molthop
Watch for plant bargains at the big
stores. During April and May, you can sometimes find tiny houseplants
and perennial herbs for $1 each (or even less). When you start with
tiny plants, they grow faster and transplant easier than their larger
cousins. Shock is at a minimum at this stage. With proper care, they
should be big and lush by Christmas, making a perfect, give that looks
like you paid $10-$20 for it.
With houseplants, look for easy-care
plants that don't need much sun or water, so you can give them to anyone,
including those with a "black" thumb, who can't grow anything
but plastic flowers.
Some suggestions for herbs are: lavender,
rosemary, and thyme (comes in several varieties--all nice). Stay away
from sage and the mints, unless you know what you'r doing--they could
get sloppy looking before Christmas.
Another possibility is miniature roses.
I've never seen them less than $5, and they don't grow very fast, but
if you buy now and work with them for a year and a half, they'll make
impressive gifts for the following Christmas.
Start shopping garage sales and thrift
shops for craft supplies and unique, vintage gifts. Some items to look
for are Christmas decorations, gift wrap, and nice baskets to fill with
smaller items for gifts.
Our whole family has been doing eBay
for several years, so thrift stores and garage sales have become a serious
part of our business. The unique gift items we find-new and used-have
enhanced our Christmas gift-giving, dramatically, with the added benefit
of spreading the costs over the whole year without running up any credit
card debt. Some of our bests gifts have been "used" like the vintage
cuckoo clock our daughter gave us for Christmas last year.