I love giving gifts.
There are a lot of things that are hard to do on a budget, and buying gifts is is one of them. I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned with you today so that giving wedding, birthday, and shower gifts doesn’t break the bank for you.
I’m hoping to start a series that will will give tips on how to do the inevitable things on life on a budget. There are some things that human beings have to do: grocery shop, buy gifts, have kids, cook, and clean. These things can be hard to do on a budget. I’m asking some friends to help give tips on how to succeed in these areas and still meet your financial goals. Stay tuned!
Today’s post will give you some ideas on how to save a bit when you give gifts. If you’re around my age (mid-twenties), you likely have a lot of friends getting married and having kids, and that can cause a bit of financial stress if you get extravagant gifts for each of them. Today I want to offer some alternatives to traditional gifts.
1. Crochet or knit goods
If you know me, you know that I love to crochet gifts for people. I show up to almost every wedding with a set of crocheted potholders and every baby shower with a crochet blanket.
In our parents and grandparents’ generations, crochet gifts were common, but in our generation, these are becoming less common. If you can learn a basic stitch or two, you can easily make potholders, scarves or blankets which make lovely and thoughtful gifts.
Two of the best ways to buy yarn are to buy in bulk and use coupons.
As you can see by my pictures, I use a little bit of patterned yarn, and a lot of plain colours. That’s because you can usually get twice as much plain yarn for the same price as a patterned skein (ball) of yarn.
As for coupons, I usually buy my yarn at Michael’s, which has a great selection. You can usually get a 40% coupon online, which allows you to get one item at 40% off. Sometimes they have better coupons – last week I got 15% off my total order with a coupon I found online. Also, because I’m a teacher, I always get 15% off at Michael’s in Canada (American teacher friends, it’s something to ask about), which helps bring the total price down.
I usually spend about $8 to make a set of 4 pot holders, and $12 for a baby blanket. It takes a bit of time, but I’m always pleased with the result, and I’ve gotten great responses with these handmade gifts.
If you don’t know how to knit or crochet, you can look up basic stitches online, or ask your mom or grandma!
This seems simple, but time and time again, I find that certain friends just don’t bake, and are thrilled to receive baked goods for Christmas or birthday gifts.
Some of my favourite things to make are granola (click here for my mom’s famous recipe), bread from scratch, and cut-out cookies (sugar or chai spice) in Christmas shapes.
If you’re brave you can try something like cake pops – they are fancy and really hard to make, so they make a great gift.
Pinterest has tons of ideas and recipes for creative baked goods. You can also make nice mixes for people for cookies, hot chocolate, or breads/muffins out of the dry ingredients, put them in a mason jar, and print out a little recipe and attach it to the jar. So cute, frugal, and fun to receive!
3. Quality Time
I know that this seems like a childish gift, but my parents are always thrilled to receive this as a gift. They live far from me, so I send them a little coupon for their birthday or Fathers/Mothers Day, and then take them out for lunch, coffee or a movie when I go home for Christmas.
It’s also a great gift for friends that you don’t get to spend a lot of time with or for your spouse/significant other. Quality time with someone is more valuable than another item that they don’t really want or need. You can also package it in a creative way.
Examples of quality time packages:
- Movie night: Find or buy a plastic popcorn container from a dollar store, and fill it with some treats and a gift card to a movie or some movie options that you already own.
- Picnic: Find or buy a basket, put in some sandwiches, homemade dessert, a candle, a mixed CD or playlist on your phone/iPod, and a blanket.
- Coffee date: Find or buy a cute mug, and put in a gift card for a coffee shop and an appointment card that you can fill out together with a time for your date.
If you know me, you’ll know how much I love candles and how much I love to make them and give them as gifts. Once you find a good candle supply store, you can make candles for less than it would cost to buy them. (I use Voyageur – a great place in Surrey for all you lower mainland folks).
You’ll need to invest in some supplies (wax, colours, scents, wicks, and a pot to melt the wax in), but once you have them, you can make tons of candles at a great price.
I like to put candles in mason jars that people give me or pasta sauce containers (some brands use Atlas mason jars – a great brand). You can also find them at thrift stores or buy them in bulk at grocery stores.
Candles are lovely and thoughtful gifts – and so fun to make!
These are just a few ideas that I use to make gifts for people, and it allows me to give a creative and thoughtful gift while keeping our gift budget low.
Giving gifts should be about showing someone you know that you care about them and want to celebrate and bless them. You can do that on any budget with just a hint of creativity and a willingness to think outside the box.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas for making creative gifts! Leave a comment below to share with me. You can also tweet me! (@classyfrugality)
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