Monday, December 1, 2008

budget-friendly gifts without going to the dollar store

There are some things that are great to buy at the dollar store. Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, stickers, coloring books... I'm sure there are more that I can't think of. One thing I don't think should come from the dollar store is gifts because you always get what you pay for. Money is tight this season for a lot of us and the temptation may be strong. Here are my ideas for meaningful gifts that don't cost much.

  • A book from the used bookstore. Possibilities include: your favorite classic novel, her favorite, a biography of someone she admires. The key is to put thought into it and choose something meaningful.
  • Put together a small photo album of an event or period of time that was special to the two of you and include a letter detailing your memories and why it was special to you.
  • Watch her kids. Not later, but now when she's busy with all her holiday preparations. Take it up a notch by helping the kids put together a dinner to freeze and bring home for another night. Take pictures of the kids working in the kitchen (proof that they can wash dishes?) and put in a small album to give mom. You can wrap the photos to put under the tree if you want her to have something to unwrap.
  • Give her a collection of recipes for all the dishes you make that she raves about and include a non-perishable specialty ingredient for one of the recipes. You could also wrap it with a small kitchen tool if the recipient doesn't have a fully-stocked kitchen.
  • Do you make any crafts that would make good gifts? This isn't always a budget gift, depending on your craft.

I believe the key to giving a great gift is thoughtfulness. Think about who the gift is for. What is she passionate about? How does she spend her spare time? Almost anything you'll come up with will have giftable options in many price ranges. It is a good idea to do your thinking far from a store, you don't want to limit your creativity by only considering what you see in front of you. Start now! It is very hard to use this approach for last-minute gifts. You can either spend time or money to come up with a great gift, but if you don't spend either you're stuck with the dollar store!

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