It's officially the holiday season! Sure, the spirit of giving is still in the air, but citizens from coast to coast are on a noticeably smaller budget this year, and may have to scale back on everything from holiday meals and entertainment to gifts and decor. Fortunately, a great gift is all about making it personable, thoughtful, creative and unique and definitely NOT about price. It is one hundred percent possible to have a wonderful holiday and give great gifts without spending a fortune. We put together a list of some thoughtful and frugal gift ideas for everybody on your list this year!
For children- Nobody enjoys the holidays quite like children do. It can be hard to keep up to date on the season's hottest toys and trends. Keep age in mind when shopping for children, as a ten year olds wish list can differ quite a bit from a fourteen year olds list of holiday wishes. If your in a rut, ask the parents what the kiddo is into these days and give ideas
- Coloring books- A stack of coloring books and big box of crayons is a simple gift you can't go wrong with. Guaranteed to keep kids of all ages (and sometimes us grown ups) entertained for hours. Encourage the child to get into the spirit of gift giving by making "pictures" for other family members.
- Video games and software-These days, it seems like theres a new video game out every week. Be the "cool" aunt or uncle and gift them with some new games. Score 'em for up to half off buy purchased used games. It's a smart idea to buy used games at places like Blockbuster or Gamestop because games are inspected to make sure they aren't damaged and are in proper working order before placed on the shelf. Avoid buying them on Craigslist or at garage sales because they could be damaged or scratched.
- Make it all fun and games- Classic board games are typically under $15.00 and have a tendency to go on sale during holiday shopping season.
- Personalized items- Make them feel special by giving personalized items like mugs, rulers, pens and stickers that boast the child's name on it. I've seen these on special displays in stores everywhere including a supermarket, and knick-knack store at the mall.
- Assorted stocking stuffers- Stock up on the fun, little things, and present in a stocking Think small toys like matchbox cars or accessories and clothes for Barbie dolls, kids toothbrushes and toothpaste featuring a favorite TV or movie character,barrettes and pony tail holders, candy, powdered drink mixes, kid's shampoo and bubble bath, keychains and any other nifty trinkets you can find. The dollar store is a great place to find stocking stuffers for everybody.
- Give teens a night out- Teenagers love hanging out with their friends and staying out and about. Fast-food and movie theatre gift cards are perfect for middle and high school aged kids.
- Tune into their hobby- Most kids have a hobby or favorite after school activity. Little girls that are taking ballet or tap classes would love a new leotard or cute ballet slippers. You could grab a new baseball bat and few balls for boys that are on the little league.
For family, friends and your significant other- These are the people you are closet to in life, and want to give the "perfect" and personalized gift based on their personal tastes without breaking your budget and keeping it thoughtful and unique.
- Save time and money- If you have a few members of a certain family of your gift list, save some money and time by giving the entire family one gift they can all share. Tips number 5 and are a few creative and fun gift ideas for family gifts.
- Magazine subscriptions- Way cooler than the Jelly of the Month club, but still the gift that keeps on giving. Theres a magazine out there for everybody, whether its all about fishing or full of parenting tips. A years subscription is usually $10-20. Magazine subscriptions are great for people that mean a lot, but live far away as shipping costs are eliminated. Magazines.com lets you choose from category (Sports, Teen, Health & Fitness, etc.), or by price range ( $25 or less, $10 or less). MagsDirect offers deep deep discounts on a selection of over 2,500 titles.
- Beauty loot- An inexpensive cosmetic bag filled with a few blushes and brushes make a great gift for women of all ages.
- Plants- A plant is a meaningful gift because the recipient literally helps and watch it grow over time.
- Give the gift of memories- Any gift that involves photos from over the years is a great one for close friends and relatives you've known your whole life.They'll enjoy looking back to see how much everybody has grown, and to laugh at some of the ridiculous fashions that were sported. Go ahead and get creative here. You could make a collage, organized chronologically and frame it, a set of photo coasters or use a unique trinket, like a Ferris wheel picture frame kit. (Yes, I have one).
- Books- If you have a book junkie on your wishlist, you can stock up on interesting titles that are on sale throughout the year. If you didn't have the time to do that, just look for inexpensive books. Check the clearance section of book stores as well the book/magazine department of stores like Wal-Mart and Target. Used books read just as well as brand new ones, so browse around for those as well. Amazon is well known for selling gently used books and other media, and thrift stores often have paperbacks for around $1.00 each.
- Movie kit- Perfect for a bigger family! Assemble a "movie night kit" by arranging movie theatre gift cards, DVDs for watching at home and some traditional movie snacks like microwave popcorn, a few 2-liter bottles of soda, and theatre size candy. Put the movie goodies in a large popcorn box or tub for a five star presentation. You can score theater size candy for about a buck at CVS pharmacy and Walgreens. As for DVD's, browse the 5 dollar bins at Wal-Mart and Target, or purchase used DVD's at movie rental chains like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster
- Spa getaway basket- Another great gift for your sister, wife, girlfriend or mother. Fill a wicker basket with bath and shower goodies such as bubble baths, body mists, muscle soaks and a loofah. No need to spend a fortune at an overpriced bath and body boutique, Bodycology products (available at Wal-Mart stores) boast almost identical ingredients at up to half the cost! Looking to go even cheaper? Most dollar stores have an isle of scented lotions and potions.
For teachers, babysitters, coworkers, neighbors and gift exchange parties- Shopping for people you may not known as well on a personal level as you would a cherished aunt or own child can be quite a challenge because you don't know much about their personal taste. Your best bet is to gift them with something that brings delight to everybody
- Christmas tree ornaments- Come to think of it, the majority of ornament on my tree were gifts from my church, coworkers and neighbors. These tree trinkets are a great idea because they will be enjoyed for several years to come, and you can't ever have too many of them. Buy a quality one for less than $5.00 at pretty much any store, or make your own. Get inspired by craft ideas at Kaboose or All Free Crafts.
- Food baskets- Most multi-department retail stores (think Target and Wal-Mart) have a selection of pre-assembled specialty food baskets for under $10, or you can assemble your own using a cheap basket and throwing in some indulgent snacks like chocolates, crackers, sausages, hot cocoa mix or popcorn. To take it up a notch, throw in a cute holiday mug or well thought out card.
- Recipe books- Who doesn't enjoy special holiday meals and sweet treats during the holidays? You can spend a little money on a book filled with holiday inspired goodies, or give it your own touch with a recipe card box. Just grab a few index cards, a card holder and put on your thinking cap. You can hand write the recipes, or print them out in various fonts and glue them to the cards. Who knows? That recipe for clam chowder casserole your Aunt called kooky could become a family tradition of your gift recipients.
- Calendars- Calendars are great because they are functional, useful to just about anybody on your gift list, and come in dozens of different themes. Pick up a horse themed one for a well-known animal lover, or one filled with quotes from the Bible for somebody that is well known for being spiritual.
- Homemade goodies- If you've got serious skills in the kitchen, satisfy their sweet tooth with a cookie tin filled with homemade goodies. If you are a serious bake-sale queen, go ahead and include the recipe.
- Office sweets- A great idea for coworkers and teachers.Simply fill a coffee mug with assorted candies, and tie off with a ribbon for decoration
- Dessert in a jar-This is a favorite because its easy, creative and just downright adorable!Pick out a favorite holiday goodie and print or write the ingredients down as well as baking instructions. Grab all the ingredients and layer them in an empty pasta sauce or pickle, and voila! Dessert in a jar. Decorate the jar and/or recipe card with stickers and markers.
Saving money on giftwrap, cards and presentation
- Skip the wrap- If you are using one of the themed giftbasket ideas aforementioned in the frugal gift tips, you can skip the wrapping paper or gift bag altogether and focus on a fun presentation, as it already is.
- Solid colored wrap- Solid wrap tends to be cheaper than wrapping paper with prints. The solid color also gives it a classic look
- Get a cheapie card- They'll never know the difference! Both Wal-Mart and Target stores nationwide carry Simple American Greetings, a line by American Greetings of quality greeting cards that start at just 48 cents, as compared to pricier cards that cost up to seven dollars. They do not look "cheap", and your recipient will still think you doled out three or four bucks for a simple card.
- Decide who needs a card- Come Christmas morning, most children will be busy plowing through and opening all their gifts while paying little attention to the accompanying cards. Thats just the way kids are, and will appreciate hand written notes and holiday cards when they are older. For a child, its perfectly acceptable to just stick with a classic "To/From" gift tag. Just include a brief "Hope you have a great holiday,Katie" or "Wishing you a merry Christmas, Joe" on the tag. You can make a gift tag for pennies by with the same wrapping paper you used to wrap the present with. Just cut out a small piece and fold it in half. Tape one side down on the gift so it looks like a little "card", and write your message as well as To/From inside.
- Re-use gift bags- Reuse any gift bags you may have laying around from gifts that you received, and be sure to save all yours this year. Just remember to rip off the tag, and don't give it to the person that gave it to you!
- E-card-Go ahead and send it early. Just be sure to include a sentence informing them that the gift is on the way. Find free holiday e-cards at 123 Greetings, Holiday Notes and American Greetings