I promised I’d post them, then I didn’t. But here they are now!
See that fire truck behind the stockings, the toy train in front of that red and white striped package, and the bench with Elmo on it? All of that was Freecycle haul (in fact, they were all from one stop!). That boat toy just barely visible behind Elijah there, along with a few other toys in his stocking and scattered around were used toys my mom picked up from a friend at work. That rocking chair is the one I got on Craigslist for $25. That little white car with the red spot on top of the silver package is a wooden ambulance toy I found at Thornton Winterfest. It was hand carved by a local craftsman, I fell in love with it on the spot, and bought it even though I vowed no new toys.
Here’s what went well:
- I spent far less than previous years. Actually, I spent very little on Elijah, about $100 total.
- What I bought new for Elijah was organic, handmade, local and/or natural, with the exception of some Tonka cars.
- My home made spa products were a big hit with my mom and sister.
- Elijah was totally overwhelmed with all his toys, and is still thrilled with all of them and plays with them regularly. He particularly loves the train.
- What I bought new for my mom was pretty inexpensive, and mostly useful (I got her a cutting board – useful – and a box of petifours – not useful, but yummy).
Here’s what didn’t go so great:
- I still feel like I spent too much. Total spending for Christmas was a little over $120.
- I should have started looking on Freecycle and Craigslist sooner. On Freecycle, you pretty much have to take what you can get. Did I go out looking for a fire truck, train, Sesame Street tool bench and a Bumble Ball? No, I just got lucky and found them there. Will I always be so lucky? Who’s to say. That’s why I should start looking earlier next year. This year I started looking in November. Next year, I might start looking as early as October.
- I turned down offers on Freecycle because they were too far away to pick up in a reasonable amount of time. Everything I ended up getting off of Freecycle was close to home or on my way to work, so I didn’t do too much driving out of the way, but I can see how driving could quickly cancel out all the savings you’re doing by using Freecycle if you’re not careful.
- Speaking of a lot of driving, I drove for an hour and a half in the snow to get that rocking chair, and got stuck in a ditch at one point along the way. Was it worth it? Yes. But I should evaluate that better in the future. On the bright side, the guy who stopped to pull me out of the ditch was kind of cute. That’s one reason why I’m glad some people still drive gas guzzling trucks.
- The toys I got off of Freecycle were a little dusty. Not a big deal, but cleaning time should be factored into the convenience.
- I wanted to do more crafting for the holiday season, but I just didn’t have enough time, because I wasn’t thinking about Christmas early enough.
- My mom still bought a lot of new presents. I’m glad I got An Inconvenient Truth, and I think all of Elijah’s new toys are pretty cool, but with some more planning next year, I think we can all do better with buying used. We just didn’t plan enough (and my mom’s broken ankle threw a big wrench in things).