$100 Ramadan Gifting Table
It is custom for Muslims to string up a set of lights or two in Ramadan, pass out money to children, and call it quits as far as holiday spirit is concerned. I have spoken to young Muslims who feel very unhappy with this. Due to over-advertised holidays like Christmas or Valentine's Day, Muslim youth feel increasingly isolated and unsatisfied--even during our most joyous times of year.
For this reason, I try to create a festive experience for the kids in my family around our holidays. For me, the most wonderful part of the Islamic holidays is that they have not been "branded" by any color schemes or media symbols. We can choose whatever decorating theme we want, and switch it up year after year.
This year, I was on a very tight budget as I am busy renovating my home. I decided to go with a softer version of a carnival theme, and I was really happy with the results. I was able to decorate a fun table with goodie boxes and small gifts for six children. Total bill? $100. Here's how I did it:
1. Make Use of Season Sales: It's mid-summer and every store on every corner is selling some cheap version of a huge, colorful air-filled ball. I bought six--one for each niece and nephew--according to their favorite colors. I paid only $2.50 for each. The reason these are so great is because they really made the color pop on the table so it was like buying gifts that also serve as decorations as well. I duct-taped them together on the table so that they wouldn't keep sliding off. My sister also bought a $5 bag of water guns and we divvied them up and wrapped them per child according to their favorite colors.
2. Use Gifts for Decoration as Well: I also found a table centerpiece that matched my theme perfectly (bottom left of the photo above) and incorporated eight useable gift boxes inside of it. I bought the whole thing for $2.50. Then, I bought small "fillers" like gooey eyeballs for the boys and hair accessories for the girls and filled the boxes with candy (not healthy, I know) and fun favors. I wound up spending around $2 each to fill the eight boxes.
3. Find Creative Ways to Save on Gift Wrap: Instead of buying gift bags, present tags, and wrapping paper, I bought a cheap sack of white tissue paper (I think it was a dollar or two) and two rolls with four different colors of ribbon (each for $1.50). Every child/adult has a special ribbon color or pattern, and all his or her gifts have been tied with that ribbon. Also, I bought a $1 mini-roll of the zebra tape and used that to accentuate the tissue wrap (pictured below). The kids had to first figure out which ribbon was "theirs" (they did so relatively quickly) and then they had to hunt above and below the table for their presents. I used the extra ribbon to tie up the balloons, so the table looked pretty well-coordinated.
4. Recycle Old Decorations: From three years ago, I had saved this sparkly Hajj garland from Syria. It has photos of Mecca on it and I wrapped it around the table this year. I only paid $1 for a table covering and $2 for balloons. That was it!
5. Make Use of Back-to-School Sales: I saw ridiculous sales on things like crayon boxes (for $0.25 each!) and cute notebooks, so I bought a whole ton of coloring supplies and crafting supplies and wrapped those for the kids. Each "Crafting Kit" cost me around $5 and my sister was happy that her children will be opening them just in time for school, so she was able to mark a couple of annoying trips to Wal-Mart off her shopping list.
6. Shop Clearance: This one is obvious but I never used to do it. I used to think that paying full price for something meant that you were getting a better quality (then I discovered that kids have magical powers when it comes to destroying things, regardless of how cheap or expensive it is). I found the cutest dresses for my nieces, stuffed animals for the youngest nieces, and dinosaur toys for my nephews and I spent a minuscule $3 for each. If you search long enough, you will find disgustingly cheap sales. I like.
- $5.50 Table Cover, Balloons, Centerpiece Favor Boxes
- $6.00 Tissue Paper, Duct Tape, Colorful Ribbon
- $20.00 Balls & Water Guns
- $16.00 Candy & Favors for Boxes
- $40.00 Art/School Supplies
- $18.00 Gifts
Total: $105.50 (without Uncle Sam's tax)