Saturday, April 20, 2013

Celebrating a Birthday without spending any money. {Still working on simplifying our life}

 This week our Megan celebrated her 7th birthday. A pretty sweet 7 year old she is, too!

We did some celebrating on two different days as Ken needed to be gone on the evening of her actual birthday. So the evening before we had over all of our family that are in town (It is quite a few currently to we had 20 of us there in all) and had supper with a menu that she requested (Ham, potatoes, veggies, etc.- stuff that we already had on hand) and had cake and a gluten free pumpkin dessert (as one nephew is gluten free, but the rest of us enjoyed it too) and we made homemade "Ice cream" (actually ice milk made with my parents goat's milk).

  We had a fun time together and Megan was overwhelmingly blessed with gifts from all of them. Lots of not so healthy (but certainly enjoyed) treats were given as gifts along with other things.

 The next morning- on her birthday our family gave her our gifts as is our tradition. This year however I am trying not to buy anything for gifts but rather make homemade gifts from stuff we already have in our possession.

    I had a few reasons for this decision.

Number one reason was that we have a lot of stuff - in fact there have been many times that I have felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have. Especially when I read stories about life back 80 years and further in our country and all over the world and also when I read current stories about life in some countries now I realize just how much we have - far more than we really need. Now don't get me wrong, I do feel very blessed to live in the time and place that I do, and I don't think that having stuff, or working to better yourself is wrong - not at all! I have just come to realize that for me personally (and for my family) I would like to have a little less stuff, I would prefer to step out of the buying cycle (for the most part - obviously I am not doing it completely) and instead work on using the things I have and making life more beautiful and simple with what we have. I have been saying those sayings "Have nothing in your lives that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" and "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" many times to myself and I feel strongly about those messages. My focus has really turned to quality over quantity concerning the things that we have.

 Another reason for this decision not to spend money on gifts was the whole concept of money. As I begin to feel more strongly about the above reason I also realized that I would rather use my money in other ways than for buying things that weren't needed. I would prefer to give money to missionaries that are spreading the gospel, I would prefer to send it for humanitarian aid in South Sudan, I would prefer to get our 6 month emergency fund fully funded and I would prefer to get the mortgage paid on our house. There are higher priorities for our money than to buy things that aren't needed.

A third reason for this plan is simply that I think handmade gifts are special. They are one of a kind (generally) and you can make it personal. Not everybody is easy to make handmade gifts for but it is fun to try! I love to think about that person while I work on the gift. It is a great time to pray for them too.

 Megan's birthday is the first one in our immediate family this year but we have been making and giving gifts to extended family and friends. So far we have been able to do all handmade gifts except when it came to my Dad's birthday I did make him a hat (which you can see in the last picture of this post) but I wanted to give him more than that so I did have fun buying various food items that they enjoy but don't normally get and giving them too him too - I did buy something but since I knew it was totally useful and didn't add to their "stuff collection" I didn't mind doing that at all.

But anyway, on to the gifts that Ken and I gave to Megan:
 Megan has quite a few dolls including a few homemade dolls but for some reason she had really hoped to get a rag doll for her birthday. That was a quite reasonable request and I had fun making a Scandinavian one. We have been studying about Scandinavia (getting ready for a homeschool event) lately and it was fun to make one that went along with that.
 I also made her an apron which doesn't look like a baby apron. She likes it and I think I can now get rid of the baby aprons taking space in our drawer (though I will probably save one for visitors).
  I also gave her a dress for her doll, Alice Lily. This dress had actually come nearly made in a bag of fabric scraps that a friend gave to us recently. So I just had to do a few things to finish it up and it was ready to go. I also got most of the stuff for making the doll and the apron from those scraps. (Thanks Kim! )

 I did think a few weeks before Megan's birthday that I might have to spend some money after all as I remembered that on our children's 7th birthday we always gave them a Bible. Megan had recently really taken off with her reading (she is our newest bookworm) and I definitely wanted her to have a Bible this year. She did actually have a Bible that had been passed her way from somewhere but it was in the King James Version and though she didn't seem to mind and we found it pretty fun to listen to her read all the old fashioned words it didn't seem like she was always understanding them, nor could she follow along with the rest of us when we read (she would always say, "But mine says....") nor was it the version that we memorize from. So anyway I wanted to get her an NIV.

    I did start doing some shopping online for Bibles and found some but not very many that had both pictures and were in NIV (I know she loved having pictures). In my searching I found the one style below and then I noticed there were used one too (on Amazon) and they were really cheap and they said they were in very good condition. Generally I have found that used books in that are classified as very good condition looked almost new and since this is a temporary Bible anyway (since in a few years she'll want one that looks a little more grown up- and just because when you use them regularly they don't last forever) I decided to go ahead and get the used one. With shipping it cost $4.99 - I had a $5 gift card that I had earned with Swagbucks so I didn't have to use any money out of pocket. Sweet!

 When I got the Bible it wasn't quite in as good of condition as I thought it would be as there was writing on two of the front pages (saying it was a gift to someone) but I was able to carefully cut them out with an exacto knife and all was good there and there was a blue crayon mark on the back cover but I was able to scrub that off. The top of the back binding had also gotten squished slightly but I have seen brand new books like that too. As far as the inside pages I don't really think the previous owner ever opened it- hopefully he had another Bible and simply didn't need this one!
 I made a padded fabric case for the Bible.

 The kids also made her some homemade presents. Mara made her a dress which hopefully I will get pictures of when she wears it to church tomorrow and then I can show it on here.

  Megan had a very happy birthday (she also enjoyed several letters, cards and calls from family and friends) and it didn't require lots of money or lots of new stuff brought into our house.

 Do you like to give handmade gifts?
How do you deal with lots of stuff?
I always enjoy hearing your thoughts!

I am linking this to the Homestead Barn Hop.


Garden Chef said...

You have a wonderful idea of giving gifts that don't just add to the collected "stuff" of others. We like to give experiences to our family and friends. My step-daughters hosted an afternoon "crafter-noon" for my birthday and I brought lumber and seeds to a friend's house and built her a raised bed and taught her how to plant veggies.

Garden Chef said...

Oh! Happy birthday Megan!!

Greg and Donna said...

Happy Birthday to Megan. The celebration and the gifts sound like fun! I love using swagbucks to "buy" purchases on Amazon!

Amy said...

Love it! I bought a rag doll at a craft fair with my birthday money one year. (Because so many of my favorite characters from children's historical fiction had one). I still treasure it and keep it in a keepsake box to pass on to my own daughters one day (if I'm ever so blessed). I'm sure your daughter will treasure hers too!


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