There are many ways to give gifts without breaking your budget. Most of these gifts are also environmentally friendly – by using these ideas, you are avoiding traditional gifts that tend to be over-packages, and are instead providing personalized gifts that really allow you to meet the unique characteristics of your recipient.
If the recipient loves a particular dish at a restaurant, find the recipe and package it with all the ingredients in a gift bag. CD Kitchen has an index of recipes, organized by restaurant name, that are clones of recipes found at many popular restaurants around the country. Recipe Goldmine has a similar list. Dry ingredients and nonperishables can be packed into an inexpensive dish, with a gift card – if you choose – to a grocery store for the purchase of the remaining ingredients.
Dress up inexpensive gifts by re-wrapping them outside of the individual box. For example, an inexpensive set of champagne flutes can look pretty and upscale if wrapped in tissue paper in a nice box instead of in the original packaging. The same can be said for items bought at a thrift store – and many times you can by brand-name clothes at a thrift store with the tags still on them for a fraction of the price! I recently purchased an Eddie Bauer button-up women’s dress shirt for $4.99 – the original price on the still-attached store tag was over $30.
Create a mini-scrapbook of a special event. Photo flipbooks that hold 25-50 4×6 photos are usually $5-$10, and you can include photos, ticket stubs, printed-out quotes and itineraries, and anything else applicable (as long as it fits the size).
Break up sets and personalize. For example, buy a dozen coffee mugs, then decorate them or include them with several packets of hot cocoa. Buy a package each of baby bowls, bibs, and spoons, then break them up into several baby care packages.
Use your loose change. Coinstar change machines don’t charge a fee if you put the money on a gift card. You can then use that gift card as a gift – or use it yourself to purchase other gifts! If your local church or school participates in a Scrip program, you can do the same thing – buy gift cards, earn the money (or donate it to your school) and then use the gift cards to purchase your gifts.
Give the gift of time by offering a needed service (baby-sitting, housecleaning, dog-walking, etc). For elderly relatives, they may appreciate a gift of time more than any tangible gifts. An offer to take them to an event they enjoy, such as a musical put on by a local high school, or the offer to create a memory book of traditions and family stories to pass down to other relatives, could be great ideas.
Make magnets by using playing pieces or puzzle pieces from a game or puzzle that is missing other parts. Just buy adhesive-backed magnet tape and stick on for a playful, inexpensive gifts.
If you have talents in crafts, there are a great deal more things you can do. If you can bead or make jewelry, you can make personalized rosaries. Embroidering can dress up inexpensive plain tablecloths, dish towels, and pillowcases.
When it comes to giving gifts and still meeting a budget, you’re limited only by your imagination!