My friend Sue is hosting a Yankee Swap Christmas party in December; guests are encouraged to provide a $10 gift. When told of this event, my friend Donna remarked, “I’ll go over and grab something from under the bed and use that.” I remarked, “I’ll just go into the bathroom with a gift bag and grab something that looks good – a picture, some lotion, maybe some shampoo.” And we giggled ourselves silly.

This interaction did get me thinking at my Budget Vogue desk: Why don’t we “shop” at home? Why must all be new? Don’t we have enough we can give as gifts that may not only help the environment, our pocketbooks, our time, but truly provide the ultimate satisfaction of an exchange of love and kindness?

Last month I dropped off some clothes and knick-knacks at Savers. I had to wait in line to drop off my bags; there were several “downsizing” people in front of me. I waited. And waited. And watched as the overworked employee accepted donations, placed items in the bins, provided tax receipts for donations. And, then, because my own nature abhors a vacuum, I went in to peruse the shelves and racks in the store. The lines were long and the place was crowded — it was a half-price holiday. I ended up, mercifully, not waiting, not buying anything. A rarity in my Budget Vogue world indeed.

But I thought, as much as places like Savers do a world of good, why not be rid of the middleman when it comes to both holiday giving and downsizing?

I’m a fan of vintage Pyrex. I’ve accumulated at least 20 bowls and rarely use all of them at once. On a good day, I’ll use three. I’m thinking my neighbors might enjoy a Pyrex bowl filled with M&Ms — vintage and chocolate make a great combination.

And what about those earrings my ever-drooping ear lobes no longer support? I’ve got nieces who may enjoy the sterling silver snowflake pair I simply had to acquire when I lived in Anchorage. Those tea towels I’ve collected may be delightful wraps for cookies or bread. The linen ones are unique and old school; I’ll probably never think of them again.

This time of year invites consumption, overspending, the insane idea that more is better, that what we have is not enough. Perhaps this Budget Vogue fashionista has a coat or 8,000 that a friend has been coveting, that may look far better on her than on me. Why not “downsize” and “personalize” in the same breath?

And it’s delightful to save and downsize in the same breath. We finally made our last house payment last month; WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! No amount of “stuff” can take away that feeling. This holiday season, I’ll peruse my husband’s laundry pile and wrap some sweatshirt I’ve not seen him wear for a while; we’ll laugh and bask in the joy of frugality.

May you, Budget Vogues, enjoy your own “Home Shopping Network” and create a legacy of frugality, love and environmental awareness. The joy of the save — both internal and external -- can be glorious.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at