When I was a kid, I used to love Christmas shopping.
Me, my mom, and my sister would spend hours at the mall each weekend leading up to Christmas poring over every possible gift for every possible person in our life.
Boy, times have changed.
I’m no scrooge, but I can’t afford to subsidize everyone’s stuff anymore. I’ve got enough on my plate without having to fret and worry over spending money I don’t have on crap other people don’t want.
So, this year, I’m doing it a bit differently.
Our Christmas Savings Plan
Me and Zach set aside $45.45 each month between January and November. That gives us $500 to spend on Christmas presents each year.
That’s about half as much as the average American family.
Because we’re each other’s favorite person, we divvy it up a little unevenly. Each of us gets $200 to spend on the other person. The remaining $100 goes to other miscellaneous family and friends.
Our Family and Friends Don’t Need a Lot of Stuff
When I asked my Nana what she wanted for Christmas each year as a kid, she always had one specific request: don’t buy me things.
I couldn’t believe it when I was younger. Who wouldn’t want more stuff? Especially when it was paid for by Mom and Dad?
Now that I’m older and living in an even smaller space than Nana, I get it. I don’t really want things either. (It seems my family members who have larger houses with basement storage haven’t yet seen the light and still persist in sending me things).
Luckily, my family and friends aren’t really in need of any thing either. They’re all healthy and happy in warm homes.
What to do?
I’d still like to show my friends and family a token of my appreciation, so what is there left to do?
I thought about making “you-coupons,” cutesy little fake coupons where I offer to volunteer my time in helping them. But, then I remembered I barely have time to take care of myself now that I’m freelancing my way out of debt.
Related post: 25+ Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas
That’s when it hit me.
More specifically, a shit ton of popcorn balls.
Why Popcorn Balls Are the Perfect Frugal Christmas Gift
Homemade popcorn balls are the perfect Christmas gift. Don’t believe me?
First, who hates popcorn balls? The buttery, melted-marshmallowey goodness with just the right hint of crunch, sweetness and saltiness is pure heaven. If you don’t like popcorn balls, then we can’t be friends.
Popcorn balls are hella cheap. All you need is a bunch of popcorn, marshmallows, butter, and some food coloring if you’re fancy. Do you know how many popcorn balls you can make with $100? Probably a million.
I’ve also got friends and family all over the country. That’s why I need something that ships well, and popcorn balls fit the bill. I once sent homemade macarons to my mom. By the time they’d traveled from Alaska to Michigan, they were a pile of smooshed crumbs.
Popcorn balls are consumable (preferably in one night with sparkling wine). Thus, they don’t clutter up your friends’ and families’ homes. The Christmas hoarding must stop. And it stops with popcorn balls.
Finally, popcorn balls are also quick and easy to make. All you have to do is pop popcorn, melt some butter and marshmallows, combine it all with some food coloring, and shape the balls. In fact, you have to be quick so that the balls aren’t too hard to shape (hehe….that’s what she said).
How to Make Your Own Popcorn Balls
I feel like making popcorn balls is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need a refresher, here’s a good recipe.
This recipe calls for one bag of popcorn. Scale it appropriately for your needs, because let’s be honest, you could probably make that into one giant popcorn ball and be the happiest person on Earth.
Pro tip: If you wash and butter up your hands, you won’t have to worry about it sticking to your fingers as you shape the balls.
When I make popcorn balls, I usually do it in several batches and switch up food coloring each time to make a rainbow of multicolored balls. Then, simply wrap each ball up in plastic wrap when you’re done, tie it with a ribbon, and Bob’s your uncle.
Related: If you want to be uber-fancy, dress up your popcorn balls in frugal gift bags.
This year I’ll be gifting popcorn balls exclusively to family and friends. How ‘bout you?
Have you ever given away popcorn balls as a gift? What other frugal homemade treats have you made as gifts? Leave a comment below!