Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all :)

Well we here at ThriftyPop had a marvellous Christmas. We both love giving gifts even more so than receiving them and delighted in putting our heads together and making + buying second hand gifts for our loved ones.

Some of the things we came up with were

  1. A personalised engraved wine bottle
  2. Some first edition classic books (Big Pop received a collection of six first edition Enid Blyton novels, Gorgeous!)
  3. A 1963 original copy of The Amazing Spiderman comic book
  4. Big Pop also collects green Depression Ware glass so I bought her a nice bowl from the Waverley Antique Bazaar
  5. Experience based gifts such as cooking lessons, pampering packages, and deep water diving courses
  6. Charitable gifts to Oxfam and World Vision ❤

What we enjoyed the most was how little stress we felt going into the holiday season. We had a new focus, and that was spending time with our family catching up and connecting over the holiday period while we all had time to do so. Our gifts were all well received and it was wonderful to see how thoughtful others had been with buying us gifts we had many thoughtful gifts given to us including plants, charitable gifts, holiday park vouchers and locally made jewellery.

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Coming into the new year I will not be making any mind-blowing resolutions, I think I will make an effort to start slowing down and enjoying life a little more, I’m going to learn to put my phone down… or more shockingly turn it off. I want to go on more walks, check up on social media less and stop putting so much pressure on myself because there are only 24 hours in a day and its not always possible to get everything done.

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Day eleven: gift ideas we love

Give a Young Lady or Gentleman Their Very Own Alphabet 🙂

cover photo - DIY Magnetic Alphabet

Kids need to learn the alphabet at some point in their busy lives, why not make it fun with these cool alphabet magnets!

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This first one is done by Ellen Goldberg from Kiwi Magazine it recycles old bottle caps by turning them upside down and inserting letters. If I was to make them I would stick to plastic caps because the metal ones can be rather sharp… Although depending on your child’s age they might be too small. I was trying to think of something larger that is less likely to be swallowed and I thought maybe collecting the Spring Valley juice lids, they are metal but larger and without the sharp bits that are on most glass bottles. If you did accumulate enough Spring Valley lids to make an alphabet set you would also get the joy of reading all the cool facts under the lid!

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Second we have I am Momma Here Me Roar who has made some really cute magnets using pebbles (again I would watch the size you’re using here) What a cool way of incorporating a bit of nature into  your kitchen. These would be really low cost to make, you would only need the self adhesive magnet strips and a bit of paint + the rocks which would be free. If your a bit of a control freak you might want to use a stencil here 😛

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Anyway those are our two tutorials for the day, if your interested there are also a heap that use scrabble tiles but I left them out because I thought it was too obvious and easy (we like a challenge here @ thriftypop!). Whilst searching for these great tutorials I came across a cool article ‘12 Letters that Didn’t Make the Alphabet’ worth a read if you’ve got some time 🙂

I thought they would make a really cute stocking filler maybe put inside one of these gorgeous recycled plastic bottle apple containers! Cute aren’t they! These could be used as packaging material for so many small gifts you may be giving out this Christmas… why not give them a go?

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Let me know how these go! xxx

Day ten: gifts we love

Soda Can Ornaments  !

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We don’t really drink soft drink in our household but I know plenty of people who do. Aluminium cans can take up to 200 years to decompose and I’m pretty sure we are consuming them at a much faster rate then they are being broken down which is highly unsustainable. Like I’ve said in previous posts I really like the idea of trying to give products a second chance at life before being put in the recycling, or worse – the bin.I try to do this wherever possible and todays post is about ways we can re-use old soda cans and bring them a new lease on life. I’ve chosen the best tutorials that are not too hard but also really nice to look at, something you can look at and be proud of upon completion. These would also make lovely gifts, particularly for those who love to be out in the garden as most of these would look great as garden ornaments too.

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Soda Can Coasters

These look really cool and are seriously easy to make.

Materials:

  • aluminium cans
  • tiles (I would probably go get these from the Knox Transfer Station shop)
  • tin snips (you could probably get away with regular scissors but they will most likely be blunt when you are done)
  • adhesive glue
  • polyurethane (I believe this is some kind of sealant used to make the tiles stronger)
  • foam brush (a normal thickish paint brush or miniature roller would probably work just as well)
  • felt
  • hot glue

More info + tutorial here

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Soda Can Lanterns

I can see these being great as decor outside in a patio or entertaining area.They are pretty simple to make, essentially you cut a few slits in the side of the can then give it a little push down to split them apart, full tutorial here.

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Soda Can Butterflys

These are so versatile, depending on what size you make them they can be anything from garden stakes to magnets or even earrings. This is one that I think I’ll definitely be attempting…as soon as I can get my hands on a soda can :p

Little Pop xx

Heres how you do it

Day nine: gifts we love

Give a membership!

Our family are big St-Kilda supporters (mock if you will) and we have a fantastic row of about five seats we have managed to hold onto as members for quite a few years. At various times throughout our membership one or another of us has had trouble paying the annual fee and we have always helped one another out in order to ensure we don’t lose our prized seats. There are lots of things people can be members of and they all provide different benefits, in our case we get lots of merch at the beginning of the season, our seats we get to sit in every week and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other things too. Our football membership has provided many memories as a family, my two cousins have been handed the celebratory football that is given out at the end of the game numerous times and I’m sure that getting the chance to go to the football every week with my grandparents has allowed them to share many happy memories together. Some other membership ideas are…

  1. Zoo membership – Melbourne Zoo has a great membership program that allows you to have access to all three zoos (Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo) as well as reciprocal entry to selected interstate zoos and a few other perks including discounted tickets to their twilight concerts they hold during the warmer months.
  2. Museum Victoria – This ones pretty cool you get unlimited general entry to Scienceworks, Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum as well as various museums and cultural educational centres in other states.
  3. Youth Hostels Australia – Great for travellers! The mholder of the membership gets at least 10% off accomodation costs at YHA hostels all over Australia + member rates worldwide. They also get discounts of travel gear, insurance and flights.
  4. Golf Membership – This is great for avid golfers it allows them access to their favourite recreational activity as well as the perks of socialising with other members and having access to member exclusive club rooms etc…
  5. Any sports membership – AFL, ruby league, ruby union, ice hockey, soccer, this list could go on forever :p

There are memberships to suit most people, I hope this list has provided some inspiration 🙂

Also… I have a few links I’d like to share today

Glamumous has written a really useful post with 101 household tips for every room in your home, there are so many storage solutions here and lots of natural cleaning remedies too.

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Eartheasy has written a nice article with tips on how to have a ‘green’ christmas. There are some really nice little suggestions here and some new traditions I hope to introduce to our christmases to come.

Little Pop xx

Day seven: gift ideas we love

Make someone else’s day. Make a difference !

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Australians spend an estimated $30 billion on Christmas gifts each year, and some $700 million worth of unwanted gifts are expected to be in landfill by February, FEBRUARY… that’s just 5 weeks post christmas. I would rather give a gift that lasts than something that ends up taking up space in landfill and/or polluting our oceans. I know some of my hand crafted gifts might not be things that you can be sure will be kept forever (or at least a significant period of time), but at least I’m trying to extend the life of something which would otherwise be on the fast track to the trash.

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I feel like we are often pressured by marketing companies to buy as many gifts as possible, and this promotes an unsustainable quantity over quality attitude towards gift giving. Since starting BNN we have become largely focussed on our immediate needs, an example is my christmas list this year which contained items such as a hose, a cordless drill and a dandelion remover tool (yes that’s a real thing!) I know this sounds like a lame excuse for christmas gifts but the thing is that I genuinely need those things and they will be something I can actually use… much better than some plastic reindeer that poops jellybeans then ends up gathering dust in my room the next day. The truth is that pre BNN my list would include lots of things I don’t necessarily need, but not this year. I sort of feel as though the pooping reindeer would be taking two steps back after putting in so much work trying to simplify our lives and get rid of all our junk (this is still a work in progress), we are trying to move forward.

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On the other hand I’m all for getting pampered and indulging in a little luxury every now and then. Everyone deserves a little indulgence from time to time, heck I get my nails done twice a month and my sister is always saying ‘isn’t that counted as buying something new?’ (they are acrylics) to which i reply ‘yes they are new’ and I know it is completely the opposite of what BNN is about but It is an exception I make for myself, I take my BNN challenge seriously but I do want to let out the inner girly girl in myself every once in a while and I think this is a small price to pay.

On Big Pops side of the family we have a large brood: 2 grandparents, 4 children, 3 spouses, 10 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter and various great aunts and second cousins make appearances from time to time. For a long time Christmas was pretty crazy for all of us with wrapping paper everywhere and I did feel at times like you barely had a chance to actually take your time and enjoy the gift before another one was thrown in your lap… the excitement of the gifts at times felt like it took time away from our ability to enjoy the moment and actually accept and thank those who gave it to us. This year seeing as most of the grandchildren are now young-adults we have all been put in a Kris Kringle together and so this year we each have to buy one gift instead of our parents feeling pressure to buy a gift for each of us. This saves everyone money and since we will be giving and given fewer gifts I hope we all have much more time to enjoy our gift, check it out think of all the things you could use it for.

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The last few years I’ve had a running joke with my sisters over christmas and birthdays as a few years ago I started requesting charity donations to Oxfam or World Vision instead of physical gifts. They found this funny at first and asked what I would like, to which I replied ‘well I have always wanted a goat..’.

My younger sister bought me a duck and inside the card it said ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t afford a goat so I bought you a duck‘ I still have the card sitting on my bed head and I’m not lying when I say that sometimes I open it up and wonder what my ducks doing these days… did its recipients eat it? did they use it for its eggs? does the duck have a name, or any duck buddies? I don’t know anything about this duck… and I like it.

In all honesty at twenty one years of age I have most of the things I need in life, and receiving a charity gift is something I welcome with open arms. I know other twenty one year olds are not as lucky as me, other communities are not as lucky as us, and it makes me feel nice to know those who are less fortunate will have something to look forward to…something that would otherwise be difficult for them to acquire.

This christmas I will be giving charity gifts, because I think that although christmas is a time for giving, it is not a time for giving just for the sake of it. My gifts this year will have a lot of thought put into them and I will definitely not be giving a pooping reindeer!

Day four: gift ideas we love

Plastic bag up-cycling 

Ok so before I go into this I just want to say this isn’t a tacky, falls apart as soon as it’s opened homemade gift. I have actually made these before and they do turn out really good (so well that for a while last year I became a little obsessed with plastic bag craft).

Online you can find thousands of plastic bag recycling tutorials, but these are three of my favourites which are not overly time consuming or hard to do.

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Yes, even this gorgeous christmas wreath is made out of recycled plastic bags (I made about five of these last year and they are fantastic)

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  • Recycled Plastic bag Totes – How cute are these! to make them all you will need will be scissors, plastic bags (you can finally start getting rid of that huge collection in the cupboard. Yay!), some baking paper, sewing machine, an iron and some felt + double sided tape for the labels on the front. What you will be doing is fusing the plastic bags together which then creates this really durable material so then you can reuse them over and over again whilst minimising your ecological footprint and maximising the space on your now less cluttered plastic bag shelf 🙂

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  • An eco-friendly skipping rope  – great for kids + cheap and easy for you. This looks really cool if you have a mixed collection of bags with different colours. Literally all you have to do to make this is braid the bags together and duct tape the ends to make handles.

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  • Fused plastic bag placemat  – Again this one is done by fusing layered plastic bags together, you can do them as block colours or get a bit creative by weaving or making little cutouts. I’m thinking of making this as a housewarming gift for some friends later on this year

So this is the end of my plastic fantastic post. If you want more ideas as usual have a search on the old internet for some plastic bag inspired crafts. Some people even turn their plastic bags into yarn and then crochet or knit with it (I’m not that talented!), Heres a list of ideas to get you started.

Day two: gift ideas we love

Plant a tree.

Trees play such an important role in the environment, why not consider giving one to someone who plays an important role in your life this holiday season?

This is a particularly worthwhile gift for those living in Australia. Habitat destruction is a huge issue over here, a mega 50% of our forests have been destroyed in the past 200 years ( most of which were hundreds of thousands of years old!). Deforestation in Australia is the main cause behind our loss of biodiversity, which is really tragic as Australia has been blessed with many unique animals and plants which are not found naturally anywhere else in the world. So when you are thinking of gifting a tree this year you should know you are giving so much more than just the tree itself.

Washington Cherry Tree Planting 2012

Image: Michelle Obama planting a tree taking part in a 1912 Cherry Blossom tree planting re-enactment ceremony with Fujisaki Yoriko.

Now down to business…

There are two ways of giving a tree:

  1. Give an actual tree: This is the perfect gift for someone with the space and time needed to nurture and ensure the success of the tree. It also gives you the ability to make the gift really personal as you have complete control over it: what tree to buy, what size is appropriate and is the climate suitable for this tree where they live? Keep in mind though not everyone is blessed with a green thumb, and these days we do not always have the time and space to accommodate a tree. Having a tree is quite a spiritual thing for some people as it will be something that is going to be around for a long time, it will most likely out live the recipient and will provide generations with shade, tire swings, tree houses and many animals with a habitat or food source that may not of been available locally before.
  2. Give a tree to a charity organisation:  This is better for those who do not fit the criteria of space, time and commitment above. The Australian Koala Foundation has an informative and easy process for funding a tree with options such as buying a tree for yourself, as a gift or in memory of a loved one. You are given a certificate for your recipient to show off to his/her friends, a thank you letter and their names will be put on the honour board. It’s also really budget friendly (it can even work out to being cheaper than purchasing the tree yourself at a nursery) with donations starting from $10.

Have you ever given or received a tree as a gift? I never have but it’s something I’ve always thought about and it’s definitely on my giving list this year 🙂