Friday, September 11, 2009

Ways to Save: Gift Ideas

A gift in a jar, given to me by a friend, for some yummy cookies

Do you love giving gifts but struggle knowing how to do it on a budget? Well, here are a few ideas for you. And remember, often the thought means more than anything. In other words, you don't need to spend $50 to give a meaningful gift!

* A simple, yet thoughtful gift is a pretty container filled with your loved one's favorite homemade cookies, candy or snack mix.

* Or for a different twist, give a gift in a jar. From soup mixes, to cookie mixes, to drink mixes, there are literally hundreds of recipes that you can do this with. If you do a simple Google (or maybe I should say Swagbucks!) search, you'll pull up all kinds of ideas like you'll find here.

* Wondering what to do with all the free photo deals that turn up? Use them! You can easily turn them into a simple, yet fun gift for a child. Simply print out pictures of family, friends, or even the child himself and put them in a little photo book or photo album. Most children I know love this personalized little book just for them and if they have far away friends or family, it is a great way to help remember who they are.
Looking for a cheap photo book? Walmart has some for $1 by their photo center.

* Another photo idea is to frame a few of your favorite pictures in some nice good quality frames. This is a great one to give to grandparents.

* If you have even a little sewing machine experience you should be able to pull off making these cute and cozy hooded towels. And if you keep your eye out, you should be able to get the towels on clearance for cheap. My nieces and nephews love their towels like this and I hope to soon make some for my own little guy.

* Make a little gift basket filled with snacks or cosmetics or some of both. You can use the free samples you receive or items that you buy and get free or almost free with your coupons. If you know of someone that is experiencing financial difficulty or just having a tough period in their life, this gift is one that is fun to just anonymously slip into their car or house as a fun, day-brightening surprise.

* Give a gift coupon. My husband has done this numerous times for me and I absolutely love it! So exactly what is a gift coupon? It is a homemade coupon that offers a free service or thing. For instance, you can say, good for one dishwashing, car wash/cleaning, 15 minute back rub, meal out at restaurant of your choice, breakfast in bed, etc.
You can be as fancy or as simple as you want in making these coupons. I'd say go for creative and make it fun. Once, my husband even used some old checks we had and instead of the dollar amount put in his gift such as a dishwashing. If you want to make it even more fun, turn finding them into a treasure hunt. I assure you, even grownups will enjoy this. I know from experience!

* Give a gift basket with most or all of the ingredients for one of your favorite dishes. I think any mom would enjoy this one!

* For children, fill a basket or gift bag with all sorts of craft items like construction paper, glue, glitter, tape etc. This can be done quite inexpensively and is something that can give them hours of fun and help stimulate their creativity.
My husband remembers one year when money was tight and his parent's did this as a Christmas gift for him and his siblings. Guess what? It was one of his favorite gifts ever and he still talks often of it!

I'd love to hear of your creative and/or frugal gift ideas!


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