How can you give cheap Christmas gifts – without being cheap?
Easy: through heartfelt presents. Experiences and homemade items make especially memorable gifts.
After all, teens talk about the time they went to fill-in-the-blank place with you, not about an expensive gizmo, notes one of my mom friends.
No one is saying you can't splurge on a North Face jacket or an iPhone for a loved one if you want to and can afford it. But instead of supplementing a costly purchase with countless other pricey store-bought items, think about more meaningful alternatives.
A whopping 52 percent of women who responded to a holiday survey by Real Simple and Citi's Women & Co. said they had started exchanging homemade gifts. "In one sense, yes, it's about finding some ways to cut down on your costs," says Linda Descano, president and CEO of Women & Co. But people also want to be creative and to give something "more personal and meaningful," she says. "It's really not about the stuff but about the thought and about me investing my time to do something special for you."
Some inexpensive ideas:
Photos. You can get a set of 20 acrylic picture frames at Walmart for $16.97. Tuck 10-cent prints of special photos into each of them, and you've got 20 special presents for about $1 each.
Baked goods. Read about how to make the best Christmas cookies. No matter which ones you choose, consider adding white icing and red and green sprinkles. Another idea: If you know a friend or relative is busy but loves to bake, put all the ingredients for a batch of cookies together and tie up the package with a ribbon, says Descano.
Free labor. Donate your services. Create a book with coupons good for walking the dog, shoveling snow from the sidewalk and driveway, and weeding the garden. (Remember to write, "No expiration date!")
An outing. Give a no-cost or low-cost adventure, such as a trip (with you) to a local botanic garden, museum, or zoo. (To find a zoo by zipcode, check out the website for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.)
A cooking class. If you're a whiz in the kitchen, you can be the master-chef teacher. But you don't need to be Julia Child. Simply give a certificate good for one free session on how to bake your specialty – such as carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
A crochet lesson. Sure, teens today can look up "learn to crochet" on YouTube. But it's more fun if you teach them. Start out with an easy project, like a hat or a bookmark that looks like a worm – that is, a "bookworm."
A best-loved, gently used book. Wrap up a favorite novel from your childhood and give it to a special kid in your life. For an extra touch, tuck a handmade bookworm into that Nancy Drew.
Please share your ideas for cheap Christmas gifts that come from the heart!
For more stories about holiday gifts, read: