Monday, November 19, 2012

Self Sufficiency During the Holidays

The Black Friday ads started arriving in my inbox a little over a month ago and we've marked out Thanksgiving and Christmas break on the calendar too. So I did what every self sufficient prepper does; I checked our bug out bags for appropriate seasonal clothing and sizes; then I started checking my supplies and making lists for seasonal gifting. I haven't been to a black Friday sale in decades. While I was doing this I wondered how everyone else manages self sufficiency during the Holiday season. Do you buy the big items you otherwise wouldn't buy or have you embraced simplicity? Do you make your own gifts rather than buying them? Do you have a never ending to do list associated with the holidays or is it finally a time of relaxation? If you make stuff, did you start in July or wait until the last minute? In short I was really wondering: Am I the only fruitcake that does this? I have a crafting list that seems to get longer every year. I really need to start my projects much sooner than I do because even though I start gathering ideas in June or July I usually don't start my projects until around Halloween. Right now I am making two blankets, a purse, some Christmas ornaments and I have mittens and a rug planned as gifts as well. Think I'll finish it all by Christmas? I'm not positive I will but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Honestly, I think I've become that beloved old great aunt that gives you stuff she made for Christmas that you have no idea what to do with so you smile politely and go home and stuff it in the back of your closet somewhere. I swear all the inspiration I get from Pinterest will be the death of me yet.

I do try to be conscientious in my gifting but Christmas is really hard sometimes. People tend to have grandiose expectations and we have a teeny tiny microscopic budget that stretches less every year. Unfortunately this year many people I know down sized their incomes and thus their budgets and spending have been down sized accordingly. We have adopted simplicity throughout the greatest part of the year. To us that means not buying things if we can avoid it and buying handmade or thrift store finds when we must absolutely buy something. The exceptions here are socks and underwear because truly who wants to wear someone else's used underwear? It’s harder during the Holidays though as some of the people we give gifts do not practice nor appreciate this fine art.

To solve this dilemma we have decided to try what I am calling the 50/50 rule. To sum it up briefly fifty percent or more of the holiday shopping budget must go towards handmade, homemade, or thrift store gems and fifty percent may go towards brand new commercially sold items or gift cards. In our case we amended thrift store and handmade to include any used or handmade item in general which opens up venues like Etsy, Amazon and GameStop. Living in a small town you can't always find what you are looking for without looking online. You can also safely bet that craigslist and Freecycle will be searched this year too. Our personal challenge, keep the budget to a very minimal $10-20 per person this year. I know it’s not much given today’s prices but it is our hope that by shopping this way our money will stretch pretty far and more importantly we will support small businesses and charities in our area.

If there is anyone out there thinking "Oh My Gosh What a Cruddy Christmas that’s going to make!" I can only offer up the following.

We've gotten Lucky brand jeans hardly worn at the thrift store for $3/pair and at our small town thrift shop we've gotten even better deals on Brands like Levi, Wrangler, Cruel Girl and Rocky Jeans. Shirts and sweats from American Eagle, Aeropostale, and many others. Outdoor gear from Columbia, Carhartt and North Face. All in good shape, all less than $10. We can get used books and movies super cheap and get great discounts on video games as well. Meanwhile other items if purchased correctly lead to rebates, rewards, and more importantly gift cards. Will we have the latest and greatest or the newest trendiest thing out there? No probably not but we should still have a nice Christmas that is within our budget. Include our homemade projects that won't cost much more than our time and labor and it should be quite nice indeed. We will see how well everyone does shopping with the 50/50 rule. I have a feeling we will all be surprised at what we can find without getting brand new.

Now you might think I jumped right over Thanksgiving and into Christmas but I didn't really. It’s simply that Thanksgiving is so much easier than Christmas for us. We buy our meat from a local butcher shop in our small town. The majority of meat they sell was raised locally and while this isn't quite the same as raising and butchering our own animals we feel it's perhaps more important. It helps to support our small town and provide jobs where not many exist. It also supports the areas ranchers and farmers by keeping their costs down and ensuring they have a buyer. All of this provides us with a superior product at a reasonable price while limiting long haul shipping and building a community that works together. Most of the other items for thanksgiving dinner are stuff we have on hand; canned veggies and cranberries, Potato flakes and dry stuffing mix all make excellent prep items.

Now it’s your turn; Leave me a comment on how you handle self sufficiency during the holidays?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
Sincerely Kaya

As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.


  1. Np w/ use items here . My husband and I have lived off Garage sales and thrift stores for the last 10 yrs , Of course underwear is new , and his boots never find any good enough in his size . but other wise nearly every thing we have was either passed on to us or found second hand . We live on a fixed income very low fixed income. and most ppl think we have money . lol if they only knew . we enjoy our week end outings very much visit w/ a lot ppl (of course don't know most of them) , no shame in saving and recycling. the shame is in throwing perfectly good items in the dump or maybe that is greed never figured it out ...

  2. We have the same rules as you. It isn't the price but the thought that counts. My mother and sister are both recieving jar openers,as their hands just don't like to open them anymore. Sounds like a lame gift but I know they will both love them when they have a favorite jar of something and can open them easily now. We listen through the year and as someone say's something they need it goes on the list. By the time Christmas comes, they have forgotten what they had needed and are surprised when they recieve something that may have been mentioned in June.

  3. Homemade or recycled for us

  4. From kaya...thank you so much for the replies. It helps to know we aren't alone in our actions. No matter what the motivations are. I love the idea of keeping a list throughout the year of things people need and just recently my daughter made a similar comment. She wished she had wrote down all the little things she needs because she can never remember them all when people ask her What she wants/needs.