Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 24, 2023 · 36 comments

  1. I ordered a gift for my mother that won’t come until after the holidays, so I painted a picture of the gift. Just like I did for my daughter’s Doc Martins a few years ago.

  2. I have these Pottery Barn velvet and silk pillow shams that I absolutely love. They’re the perfect weight and softness, but I acutely dislike the orange-y coral color, so I ordered a packet of Rit dye.

    I’d hoped for more of a darker burgundy tone, but the dark pink accidentally matches my handmade Marimekko lampshade so I’ll take the win.

  3. I thrifted this handmade Christmas stocking last year, as it was too spectacularly ugly to leave behind. I paid maybe a buck-ninety-nine.

    However I felt it was time to pass it along to someone new, so I put up a post in my Buy Nothing group saying “Offer: The world’s ugliest Xmas stocking. Perfect for a white elephant gift exchange or giving to your least favorite relative.”

    I quickly got a response from someone who needed something for a white  elephant gift exchange and she’s promised to let me know the response.

  4. • I gave and received Christmas treats with multiple neighbors.
    • I borrowed my next door neighbor’s fondue pot, which is my annual tradition.
    • I’m either wrapping all our gifts in pillow cases or not wrapping them at all. I hate the waste and don’t like having to store wrapping paper.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby December 24, 2023 at 2:49 pm

I love that spectacularly over the top stocking!

1. Our Christmas meal was today, with the entree being a frozen duck purchased months ago at Aldi that I actually remembered to put in the fridge to thaw a few days ago. It was delicious.
2. Sewed up a lot of rips in an old quilt for my son. Also mended a pair of pajamas for my husband and repaired another quilt and a dog toy that our new pup chewed up.
3. Chopped up two wrinkly apples to add to some frozen blueberries when making baked oatmeal for breakfast.
4. Baked brownies from scratch with baking cocoa bought at Dollar Tree. It shows up irregularly, but is excellent quality.
5. Rinsed out a cat food food can before recycling it and added the resulting brothy water to the dogs’ food. They loved it.


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

Now I realize that my swished canned cat food water is going to waste!


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:20 pm

Me too! I don’t have a dog to give it to but I’m sure my cats will love to drink it.


MB in MN December 24, 2023 at 2:50 pm

You are a gifted painter and pillow dyer!

1. Husband brought home a free leftover tree and two beautiful outdoor pot arrangements from the tree farm where he works.

2. Bought an old but barely used tree stand at Goodwill for $6.99. In previous years, l used a vintage metal bucket with not-great results.

3. Baked my own bread to use in the egg bake for Christmas Eve brunch.

4. Attended two parties and went home with a lot of leftover food that lasted for days. One of the parties was an open house, and when my husband and I were deciding what time to go, I shamelessly said if we were there more toward the end than the beginning, we’d likely get a lot of food to take home. Score!

5. Niece gave us a new blanket that a co-worker gave her as a gift. Our pup loves it so it’s hers now.


Carol December 25, 2023 at 9:43 am

#4 you did them a favor! I’m always grateful when people take my leftovers. Merry Christmas!


Lindsey Goodwin December 24, 2023 at 2:51 pm

Merry Christmas Eve! I love how the dye job turned out.

I also wrap gifts in pillow cases and reusable bags I made years ago from a free pile holiday tablecloth. I loathe store bought wrapping paper and don’t think I’ve purchased a roll since maybe 2016. My husband doesn’t feel the same so he recently purchased a roll to wrap his gifts. To each his/her own.


Coral Clarke December 24, 2023 at 5:30 pm

I’ve never heard of a gift wrapping husband,! Maybe American husbands have different habits to our Aussie ones!


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:04 pm

Team pillow case!


Selena December 25, 2023 at 8:13 am

Got a wrapping husband myself. He enjoys its, admits he likes to do it. We were given a boat load of wrapping papers 14 years ago. I believe he just used up the last roll. Leftover ribbon/bows from a deceased relative.
The pillow case usage has me thinking. You have a “stash” of thrifted pillow cases I presume?


Vickey December 26, 2023 at 4:21 pm

Hmm. You’ve all got me thinking, thanks! We’ve been reusing the same wrapping paper for *years*, but I’m over storing it, babying it, ironing it, trimming it, and filing it away again. Was planning on turning seasonal fabrics and trims already in my stash into gift bags, but will also give the kinda sorta extra bags basket a look over.


Jill A December 24, 2023 at 3:28 pm

I like the painting of the Doc’s. You are very talented. I’m not sure anyone would be able to identify what I’d painted if I tried that.
1. I’m baking cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast which is a tradition. My daughter cut up veggies for an egg strudel that I’ll make tomorrow morning that is another tradition.
2. My oldest daughter and her husband are visiting from out of town. I made a simple breakfast for all of us.
3. We brought homemade sandwiches and fruit to my MIL and had lunch with her.
4. I picked up another spiral sliced ham at the store and put it in the freezer for a time when we aren’t sick of ham. It was on sale for 90 cents a pound and I couldn’t pass it up.
5. My mother and sister are bringing dessert and sides for Christmas dinner tomorrow. I’m providing the rib roast and the rest of the sides.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!!


kathy December 24, 2023 at 4:54 pm

1. Drove 2 hrs to nephews house for lunch today. We brought sushi and nephews wife made 3 different enchiladas.
2. Gave the adult kids Amazon gift cards that bought using focus group $$
3. Sold another item on line. It’ll go out on Tuesday
4. Gave nephews wife a scented candle from my stash
as hostess gift
5. Friends are doing the prime rib for Christmas Day dinner. We’re supplying the side dishes


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:03 pm

I love the simplicity of your frugal five!


Donna December 24, 2023 at 5:11 pm

Happy holidays! You are quite the talented artist! Was impressed with your painting skills.


Katy December 24, 2023 at 10:56 pm

It really just a matter of being willing to give it the ol’ college try.


Jen in Santa Cruz December 24, 2023 at 5:12 pm

LOVE how the pillow cases turned out. Looks great with the shade.

Happy Holidays, Katy. Thanks for making all the weird non-consumery things I do feel “normal”. 🙂


Katy December 24, 2023 at 11:01 pm

Thank you so much!!!!


Kristen | The Frugal Girl December 24, 2023 at 6:42 pm

Wow. That is truly one of the ugliest stockings I have ever seen!


Katy December 24, 2023 at 10:55 pm

Now I realize that I missed the opportunity to mail it to you!


Ecoteri December 24, 2023 at 11:51 pm

I have just finished roasting the turkey for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner that my 93 (almost 94!!) year old mom is hosting. She is hosting, I am bringing almost all the food. I am also bringing the family Quoits set and the pickle jar with 7 (now 8, I found another) clothespins for the “Christmas Games”.
If I hadn’t believed #1DD before, when she kept telling me that my mom was starting to be forgetful, the two emails this week, two mentions when we were together 3 days ago, the phone call yesterday and another today asking me if I had the Quoits set and entreating me to bring it have ensured I can no longer deny that it is happening and the slope is very slippery. Working on doing more learning about how to be present when she is SO present and in the moment, in a Groundhog Day kind of way…


Jill A December 25, 2023 at 4:07 am

My MIL has dementia. She tells the same stories over and over from her childhood. I’ve learned to love the way her face lights up when she talks and her stories are interesting even after hearing them over and over. She was a child in Europe during the war so not all of them are happy. One of her favorite quotes is “Make the best of it”.


Bee December 26, 2023 at 7:19 am

This is so sweet.


A. Marie December 25, 2023 at 9:31 am

Ecoteri and Jill A, I hear you about the “Groundhog Day” thing with your loved ones. I went through it with DH and am going through it again with my next-door neighbor. Nothing much to do except roll with it as the two of you are doing.


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:31 pm

I have a 90 year old friend who is starting to go through it. She tells the same stories from long ago, many of which I was a part of since I grew up with her kids as close neighborhood friends. I sit and listen to her, I guess because I love her and I see how happy these familiar stories make her. I have to admit, I’m not a part of what will become her “care team”, that being her daughters so I’m at a little bit of a distance from the whole picture. However, my father had dementia so in that case it was all hands on, ready for anything, 8 hour emergency room visits, doctor and dentist visits…not easy. I am the only child living close to him so it was a pretty busy time. If you have help, I think it will make a big difference for you. Best of luck.


Alexandra December 25, 2023 at 10:33 am

I love this group’s take on holidays! So thankful that our family is on board with less and less holiday requirements.
3 of our grandkids are now teens and one is 18 months old. We tried to think of what would be appreciated by kids and remembered how much they liked playing bingo when I brought home a game set from work.
I bought the game at Target and we did a simple pot luck (frozen pizzas, veggie trays, cheese n crackers, brownies, etc) at my step daughter’s home.
I spent $160 on prizes at Target, almost all food related (Oreo milkshake mix, mixed nuts in a tin, s’mores kit, variety of gummies, etc)
That was all the gifts (except we always put money in the kids savings accounts at xmas).
12 adults and one baby.
We had a blast! All the teens kept their noses out of their phones the whole time.
The 76-82 year olds had a great time.
All agreed we should do it again.
Super pleased at our frugal fun Xmas.


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:34 pm

I love how you and your family celebrate Christmas! So simple with the focus being on family and fun with a game.


A. Marie December 25, 2023 at 2:38 pm

FFT, Christmas Eve Was a Snore Edition:

(1) As noted in earlier comments, I undertook to make Christmas Eve dinner for the Bestest Neighbors and my next-door neighbor (NDN), as I’ve done for the last few years. Fortunately, almost all my preparations were done by 5 pm. Unfortunately, I stretched out in my recliner for a rest–and had to be awakened by NDN at the stated dinnertime of 5:30: “Oh, dear, did I get the date wrong?” Poor darling, she’s having such trouble keeping track of things these days–and I wasn’t helping! So I immediately went vertical and into hostess mode. The BNs showed up before I was quite finished with everything, and were much amused. Obviously, I’ll never live this down. But as Mr. Bennet says in Pride and Prejudice, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”

(2) I went over to the BNs this morning for a modest brunch (Dr. BN’s incomparable egg, sausage, and potato casserole) and a modest prezzie exchange (we’d previously agreed to scale things down this year). Considerable reuse/recycling in the prezzie department, and even more considerable reuse in the packaging department, were the order of the day. (Ms. BN would like to let you all know that she reused a box that one of us first used back in 2004.) And the BNs agreed that although I may have been a snooze-chef on Christmas Eve, the Martha Stewart parody calendar was up to the usual standards.

(3) Three other sets of neighbors brought me prezzies on Christmas Eve and Day. As ever and always, I am incredibly fortunate in The Street Where I Live.

(4) I took NDN this afternoon to the Christmas Day open house that her other close friend (CF) and CF’s husband host annually. I wish I had 10% of Mr. and Ms. CF’s energy: They are hosting a niece, her husband, and two small children for the holiday; they were majorly involved in a full round of Christmas Eve/Day services at their church; and they still laid out a noble spread for their friends this afternoon. Still, it was a bit much for NDN after a while, and I brought her home as soon as she quietly indicated to me that she’d had enough.

(5) And I’m sitting peacefully in my recliner this evening, watching a nearly full moon rise through a clear sky, and listening to yet another of my Celtic holiday CDs. Peace be unto you all as well.


Ecoteri December 25, 2023 at 8:34 pm

A. Marie, I did a similar whoopsie today – somehow lost an hour this afternoon and was trying to leave home at the time I should have been arriving at my mom’s. ARGH. would have been ok but one of my friends had come to mom’s for a ‘quick’ visit and SHE had come earlier than planned, so mom was pretty frazzled by the time we got there.
However, it all works out in the end, however it works out….


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:40 pm

Mr. Bennet’s quote! Too funny and undeniably true. DH calls me Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched because I have to peek out the window if I see anything unusual happening in the neighborhood. Now I can repeat Mr. Bennet’s phrase and not feel too nosy.


Bee December 25, 2023 at 6:39 pm

Merry Christmas to all! Wishing you peace, hope and love today and always.


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:41 pm

Same to you and yours, Bee!


Kathleen December 25, 2023 at 8:07 pm

Merry Christmas everybody!
Pillowcases = brilliant!
1. Last year my husband was trimming limbs from trees around the yard. Some of them were pretty large, so I asked him to cut them into disks and drill small holes at one edge for hanging. This year I wood-burned Christmas-y designs on a lot of them. Added cord for hanging, and our names and the year to the back. Used them for gift tags, and they will be keepsake ornaments for years to come.
2. Made snack crackers and packaged into several gifts to which I added gift cards for grandsons.
3. Had family gathering on Christmas Eve at daughter’s. She made our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of gumbo and rice, and I baked a cake. Tonight at home alone, the hubs and I had a great homecooked frozen meal of chicken and dumplings…man do I love cook once – eat twice meal prep.
4. Though I retired earlier this year, I still fill in as needed. So I’m working Tuesday and Wednesday while office staff extend their holiday.
5. My hair is looking pretty shaggy, but I’m letting it grow out so I don’t have to go for cuts as often. I will be happy when it is long enough to get it shaped into a longish bob.


Bee December 26, 2023 at 7:25 am

Seafood gumbo is our traditional Christmas Eve dinner also. It’s the basis for our version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. My husband and children actually eat the leftovers for Christmas breakfast.


Ashley Bananas December 26, 2023 at 7:42 am

If this year went by any faster….I knew that once Halloween hit it would be New Years and I would wonder where the time went. I’m at work today and drowsy…it seems like I am taking down all the flyers and holiday themed displays this morning on my own. It’s also rainy in SWFL and I could have stayed in bed just as easily.

My frugal five….was challenged this week. However, I think I can come up with a few.
1. I bought my three mechanically inclined neighbors who put my son’s basketball hoop together Outback giftcards. Outback had a promotion to buy $50 and get two $10 gift cards to use at a later date. Score.
2. My co-worker suggested Parks and Rec and my son and I have been binge watching on Peacock streaming which I already have a subscription to. Nice.
3. We gave less this year but still gave with meaning. Sending photos to family and receiving photos from family was one of the nicest gifts we shared.
4. I made a left over turkey pot pie after Thanksgiving. I made it on Xmas and it took the stress out of the holiday cooking while using what we had on hand.
5. I won a $50 gift card to Honey Baked Ham at a neighborhood meeting. I will save this for Easter or another time in the future.

Have a great week!


Christine December 26, 2023 at 2:13 pm

Eee Gads (as my father used to say) on that Christmas stocking. That brings the word overdone to a whole new level.
1. I checked the passes to an art museum in a nearby city out of the library today. We will get 50% off the admission price. We’re meeting friends for an after Christmas stroll through the museum which has Rembrandt’s etchings on display right now.
2. While at the library I also picked up a book I had ordered through the interlibrary loan system, Class by Stephanie Land.
3. We’ve been eating the leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner, which we hosted. Ham, Boston Baked Beans, Broccoli with cheese sauce and stuffing, Swedish meatballs and lots of sweets including cookies and fudge. Nice to not have to think about cooking a meal for a few nights.
4. We brought a homemade Swedish Almond Cake and a large tray of homemade cookies as our contribution to Christmas dinner at our son’s house the next day. When DH suggests I buy something at the bakery instead of “going to all that trouble” making things myself, he just gets The Look and knows he should be quiet. Lol.
5. I mended a warm shirt DH loves.


BettafrmdaVille December 26, 2023 at 4:26 pm

Happy Boxing Day!
1. I saved the potato skins from a Christmas Eve dinner (I cooked for 20 for $70, not including duck fat, see below). I roasted some for lunch today.
2. I had made cauliflower cheese for Christmas Eve and I ended up with a ton of extra bechamel (with some cheddar mixed in). I made meat-less Croque Monsieur using bread that my partner made, the leftover bechamel, cheddar (free from mystery shop) for lunch.
3. I worked last week for a friend who runs a gift shop. He gave me a CSA box and we used the kale, jar of tomato puree, loaf of bread, and carrots from it to make pot of ribollita for dinner. Also used the kale stems, homemade chicken stock, bacon fat from fridge and skipped the bacon, cheese rinds from freezer, so I estimate a recipe with 8 servings cost us about $2.00.
4. Returned a jar of mayo that my partner got, but he had no used a coupon, so it would have been $2.00 more.
5. Walked to the store to return the mayo. While there, picked up some stew meat from the Flash Food app.
FRUGAL FAIL: Asked my partner to get duck fat for Xmas Eve dinner. Online it came in 7 ounce jar, so I asked him to get 2. He, instead got 2 jars of 28 ounces. Yes, we spent $64 on duck fat….


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