For some of the families that I gave gifts to last year, I made up baskets of food mixes. One I called the Southwest Gift Basket and it had the fixins' for a Texas-flavored soup mix, a cornbread mix and a salsa mix or a spicy dip mix. Another one was a Country Gift Basket that had a good ole country soup mix, a bread mix, and either a cookie or cake mix.
This year I am working on making up some spice mixes to give as gifts. Today I bought the various ingredients for the spice mixes at a store that sells spices in bulk form. I paid about $4 for 12 different spices by buying them from the bulk containers. I was looking for ground rosemary and found that it cost $8.00 a pound. I bought the 1/2 cup that I needed and it cost $.08!! I almost fell over when I saw the cost compared to a jar of rosemary that I would have to grind myself!
I started buying my spices in bulk form several years ago when I found out that I could refill my spice jars for a fraction of the cost of buying new jars of spices. And for some of the spices that I use only occasionally, I just buy a small amount and renew them every year--or as needed. That way the spice does not sit on my shelf and grow stale.
I scrounge at the Dollar Store or other discount stores for interesting baskets or containers for these mixes that I put in freezer zip-loc bags, put the directions on the zip-loc bags, and then tie it all up with a bandana, shrink wrap or plastic wrap, some nice ribbon and perhaps an ornament that I make. If I have to mail the present, I try to find a very light weight container for the gift.
Please feel free to share your frugal tips for Christmas gifts you are planning this year.