The Fat Dollar Money Saving Tip - Inexpensive Gift Ideas
Frugal Gifts - 10 Inexpensive Gift Ideas
This time of year, you may be looking for inexpensive gift ideas. Here are a few Fat Dollar ideas for meaningful gifts.
1. Make a CD or MP3
Use a free program, like Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/), and record something that will be special or useful : a love letter to your spouse, a narrative about a special memory that you share, a read-aloud of a child's favorite book, a performed song, all the grandchildren saying a special hello, or even the sounds of something that would be meaningful to the recipient - such as the wind and ocean waves at your beach, or the gurgles of their newborn baby.
Save the recording on a CD as an MP3 or use a program like Windows Media Player or a free CD Burning program (About.com has a good article on The Top 5 Free CD Burning Programs). While you can buy special labels to dress up your CD, I'd recommend neatly marking the CD with a Sharpie pen.
If you have a case for the CD, you can use your printer to make a label for the case.
Total cost - Less than $1.00 for the CD. Sam's Club, Amazon, Walmart, and many more stores sell these. Amazon currently has a spindle of 50 CD's for $10.99. Walmart has similar prices. Walmart also has available a 10 pack of CD-R's with jewel cases for $7.82. (prices as of Dec 17, 2011)
2. Make a gift basket
Put together a basket of two to four small items that match a hobby or interest. Some ideas:
A bag of premium coffee beans or grounds, plus one or two mugs. (Try Sozocoffee.com for fresh roasted coffee beans from Sozo Coffee Roasting in Ionia MI if you have a true coffee lover.)
Cocoa mix (store bought or homemade), a bag of marshmallows, and a mug
Popcorn and an assortment of flavored popcorn salt and toppings. Include candy bars and a DVD to make it a movie basket. You can also include a big popcorn serving bowl instead of a basket.
Various sports-related items, such as a T-shirt, printed mug or beer glass, printed key chain. You may even be able to find cards or magazines with their favorite sports figure by shopping eBay.
A set of kitchen utensils, oven mitt, and towels arranged on a cookie sheet or in a mixing bowl
A box of pancake mix, honey, maple syrup, and jam displayed in a skillet
A bottle of wine, box of crackers, wine opener, and wine glasses
A variety of pet items for the person who has a beloved pet
Candles, fancy matches or a lighter, and candle holders - perhaps a DVD of romantic or meditative music
Yoga workout DVD's (try one of the 10 Minute Solution Yoga DVD's or AM/PM Yoga For Beginners (with The Dalai Lama & 10 + Routines) for a beginner) plus a yoga strap and yoga mat. The mat can get expensive, so consider it optional.
A set of hand gardening tools and a pair of gardening gloves
3. Make a donation on their behalf and give them a symbolic gift to represent it. Be very certain that the donation is given to an organization that the person enthusiastically supports.
A little dog figurine that looks just like the dog they adopted from the Humane Society, accompanied by the certificate showing that you made a donation in their name.
A certificate of a donation to the Nature Conservatory accompanied by a small plant, or a reusable shopping bag.
A donation to a local food bank or soup kitchen accompanied by a can of soup in a pretty soup bowl.
4. Throw a dinner party or other festive party as your gift
For a small party, go really all-out with a tablecloth, candles, soft music, your best dinnerware, glasses of wine, good after-dinner coffee. You can go to Sam's Club and purchase excellent entrees or desserts in the frozen food department if you are not culinarily inclined.
As an added touch, try visiting your local Goodwill store and buying a variety of pretty china plates and beautiful long-stemmed wine glasses. (Locally we can get these for $1.00 or less each) Be sure they are unchipped, beautiful and complimentary, but they don't have to match. Use these to set an eclectic shabby-chic dinner table. Have each guest choose and sit at their favorite place setting. After dinner, wash up the dishes and let each guest take their plate and glass home.
For a bigger party, have a buffet or appetizer table (again, head to Sam's Club if you need to ... they have fabulous frozen appetizers during the holidays). Give each guest a party favor as they leave, such as a plate of cookies, or loaf of home baked bread, or even use the idea above - letting the guests choose their wine glass and then let them take their wine glass home.
5.Portable coupon holder (for taking on the shopping trip), coupon organizer (for home storage) filled with coupons, and pads of pretty shopping lists.
This one will take a little time. You must first be sure that the recipient is an avid coupon shopper. If so, then scour the Sunday newspaper inserts, magazines, and free-stuff sites for coupons. Get coupons for the items that you know the person purchases, such as a certain brand of dog food, or brand of breakfast cereal. You can also add coupons that you think they will like, but be sure that most of the coupons are for goods that you know they purchase.
If they are really avid with shopping, coupons, and bargains, then consider buying them a membership in an online service, such as thegrocerygame.com . If you do this, be very sure that the online service covers not only their specific city, but also the specific store that they shop in. (The online sites are great time savers by taking your local store ad and then telling you which coupons from your Sunday newspaper to match with the specials. For example, they might list that your local Kroger store has a brand of cereal on sale for $3.00 a box and your local Sunday newspaper coupon insert has a coupon for $1.50 off that cereal.)
6. Give a Gift-In-A-Jar
Measure the dry ingredients to your favorite easy cookie or muffin recipe and layer them in a canning jar. Include the recipe card and instructions for how much butter. eggs or other perishable ingredients to add. Be sure that it is something that can be mixed in two steps. If more steps are needed, such as the sugar and butter need to be creamed first, then pack the ingredients separately in sealed plastic bags before putting them in the jar. You might also include a baking sheet or muffin pan with the gift.
Also try making a flavored cocoa mix, such as French Vanilla Cocoa Mix.
If you have a large jar or airtight container, you can make your own baking mix to give (try the highly rated one on allrecipes.com). Include a biscuit baking mix recipe book or print up your own booklet from the Bettycrocker.com Bisquick mix selection of recipes.
7. Give a plate of homemade holiday cookies or holiday bread
Make these festive and arranged pretty. You can even include purchased wrapped candies (chocolate is always a favorite) and other small treats.
8. For an elderly or home-bound person: Buy a box of note cards, a book of stamps, and a pen.
Give them the gift and then arrange for an afternoon when you can come over and help them write notes to their friends, family, or even favorite movie stars.
9. A collection of assorted scratch off lottery tickets.
10. Use an iron-on transfer kit and your color printer and make a customized T-shirt, apron, pillowcase, tablecloth, or other type of clothing.
This is a little riskier since you not only need to know the person's clothing size and taste (for the T-shirt), AND you need to have a catchy picture or saying that they will like AND you have to do a great job of transferring the image to the article of clothing. Amazon.com sells a great Avery T-shirt transfer kit (Avery T-shirt Transfers for Inkjet Printers as well as several other types and brands of kits.
Basically, you print a design on the special transfer paper and then iron the design on to the cloth article. I have made many cool t-shirts with transfer kits and after I got the hang of doing it, they turned out great.
You might even buy a jacket or button up shirt and iron on a logo of the business or web site address that your spouse is starting up. That should make his/her day.
I'll add more ideas as I think of them. Meantime, if you have ideas, please use the comments section to share them.
Meantime, if you want to make your own gifts, try these two sites:
Home-Made Gifts (about.com article) - has an amazing lift of homemade gift links
Amazing Moms - Crafts & Gifts kids 8 - 12 can make
Amazon links are our affiliate links with Amazon.com
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