For many years, Deus Ex Machina and I didn't "buy" each other gifts - not for Christmas or birthdays. We gave gifts, but we made a pact with each other that the gifts had to be handmade, bartered, or otherwise procured without spending money.
Back then, I had a Paperback Swap account (back when it was really free-ish), and one year, I found him a couple of books on the swap. I also have an account at Bullmoose, which is a local chain music store. A few years ago, they branched into books (hooray!), and they buy and sell music CDs, DVDs, games, and books.
I can resell books, DVDs and CDs, and I have the option of taking cash or getting store credit. I usually take store credits, which I save up all year, and that's how I "buy" presents for my family. I also get points for every dollar I spend, and I can use these points to get percentages off my purchases. Between the points and credits, I saved a bunch this year.
I've also made him pajama pants and boxers out of old sheets. I don't think he minded matching the bed.
A few years ago, though, we broke the no gifts pact and decided to make an actual purchase.
When we first purchased our house, we bought an inexpensive down comforter. Our room was cold. We loved that down comforter, pretty much, to death. We used it for many years. Then, one day, one of my daughters was sitting on my bed using some scissors. My beloved comforter got a hole. It started shedding feathers. I repaired the hole, but then, it got another hole, because, well, it was getting old. Then, little holes started to just happen all over, and we were, eventually, just sleeping under two pieces of thin cloth with the odd clump of feathers here or there.
We decided to spend the money and get a new, high quality comforter. It was expensive. Worth it. But expensive.
And the one we wanted only came in one color. White.
I guess most people don't have big dogs who like to sleep on their beds.
It didn't stay white for long.
Dry cleaning this very expensive comforter is costly, and I can't afford to do it very often. With four dirty-dirty dogs sleeping on my comforter every day, it needs to be cleaned a lot more often than I can afford.
It didn't take me too long, after we bought the white comforter, to realize that we needed a comforter cover. For the size we need, those can be pretty pricey, too. The ones at L.L. Bean are almost $100 for King sized.
So, I did what I do best. I innovated.
Sheets are an interesting thing. They come in pairs - one for underneath the sleeper and one for on top of the sleeper. Only thing is, the bottom one often wears out way before the top one. I'm not one of those people who care a lot about everything on my bed matching, and so it's not an issue to use different top sheets with mismatched bottom sheets, but I do have a lot more top sheets than bottom sheets, and really, I only need a couple of each.
Using two matching (ish) top sheets that were missing bottoms, I made my own comforter cover. It was just a very simple matter of sewing the two sheets together on three sides. To keep the comforter inside its cover, I sewed some strips of scrap cloth on the inside to use as ties.
It took thirty minutes to sew. It works perfectly. It might have cost me $10, including the electricity to run the sewing machine.
And washing the cover is a lot easier (and cheaper) than dry cleaning the WHOLE comforter.
I might need to make another one ;).
Frugal Tip: Repurpose something old into something new.