It’s the thought that counts. We’ve all heard that before, but how many of us believe it?
Do our gift-giving practices reflect what really matters or are we caught up in the price (or perceived price) of our gift?
Today we’ll talk about how you can give great gifts on any budget. We really wanted to touch on gifting in the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge, because there will constantly be opportunities to give gifts, and they can derail the progress toward your goals if you let them.
You might just think we’re advocating skimping on your gifting budget. Before we go any further, let me clarify what I mean by “frugal gifting.”
What is Frugal Gifting?
Being frugal in gift-giving is not synonymous with giving cheap gifts. A frugal gift is a gift that is a practical, thoughtful gift that is given from the heart, at a cost within your means.
The problem most people have is the last phrase: “within your means.” We might have some idea in our minds of what value a gift for a certain occasion SHOULD have. If we let those ideas of “appropriate monetary value” dictate how we give gifts, we aren’t necessarily giving a gift within our means.
You need to decide your OWN gift-giving budget standard rather than adopt what “everyone else” says is acceptable.
Ideas for Giving Great Gifts
Instead of spending a lot of money, we aim for gifts that are thoughtful and useful. Here are some tips for giving great gifts:
I think it’s safe to say that most people have more dust collectors, trinkets, and decor items than they know what to do with. Rather than adding to the process accumulating stuff at a tremendous rate, we could focus on giving gifts that are useful.
Something You Love
When you have a product or service that you love, it’s natural to want to spread the word and share it with others. Being able to stand behind a gift with a personal conviction that it’s wonderful means so much to the recipient.
Giving something personal takes more time and thought than just buying something. Whether it’s putting together a photo book full of memories, writing a love letter to your spouse or parent, or assembling a cookbook of favorite family recipes, your personal and thoughtful gift can’t be matched by something bought at a store.
While not everyone is a talented artisan, experienced seamstress or creative cook, if you do have special skills, handmade items make wonderful, thoughtful gifts. Handmade gifts aren’t necessarily less expensive than store-bought gifts, especially when time is considered, but they allow you to give a piece of yourself in a way that store-bought gifts don’t.
With as many gift-giving occasions as there are, it can be nice to receive gifts that can be used up or consumed, rather than add to a mountain of stuff and create clutter. Consumable gifts are great for neighbors, teachers, or the person who already has everything.
Give Within Your Means and Don’t Be Ashamed
Giving gifts that your finances don’t allow won’t bring happiness. While it may feel exciting in the moment of purchasing or giving an extravagant gift, eventually the credit card bill will roll around or other financial obligations will go unmet. It is not worth getting those fleeting moments of giftgiving pride when you’re left with regret for overspending.
Staying within your budget will make the recipient more comfortable too. Receiving a gift that was clearly out of the giver’s budget can be awkward for the recipient.
Never be ashamed of a thoughtful gift that you have given with love. Don’t be embarrassed if it doesn’t measure up to society’s monetary standard.
Day 25 Challenge
Look ahead on your calendar for upcoming gift-giving occasions. Decide what you will budget for gifts. What can you do to keep your gifts within your means, but still be sure they are thoughtful and sincere? Thinking about this now will let you be prepared for successful frugal giving.
Don’t overlook charity gift cards. We give these to practically every adult on the shopping list at Christmas. Often there’s a second, smaller gift so there’s something under the tree to open too. There are charity gift cards out there at every price point and for every conceivable thing under the sun. And if you have to mail gifts to someone in another state or country, well, you get off easy with a charity gift card! Added bonus: you get a tax deduction. Second added bonus: you can customise these to suit the recipient. For instance my kids’ teachers get a charity gift card of teacher training or school supplies. Third added bonus: you won’t hear a single complaint. Which isn’t to say the recipient will actually *like* it; but they’ll know they can’t actually say anything bad about it, because how can you possibly complain about some kid getting Plumpynut (a wonderful food substance which brings starving children back from the brink of death) without looking like a complete and total jerk? “Oh, thanks for the book, but I really don’t like this genre” is something you might hear on Christmas day. “Oh, thanks for the charity gift card, but I really don’t like helping people” is something you’ll never hear on Christmas day.
Deb Stevens says
One idea for a gift is hand-crafted, blank cards. I paint water color gift cards. I buy blank wedding card sets. Ollie’s or Michaels sell blank sets like this one.
I try to spend under five dollars for a set of cards. They make great notecard gifts.
I’ve already informed some family about cutting back on gifts. Was a bit of a word conversation to have but I think they all understood the main goal in my life. I’m sorta crafty, so I can still make stuff with my stash, I just have to plan better and be more thoughtful. I can sew, so I bet my dad would love a new grilling apron or oven mitts. I can knit, so I bet my mom would love a new hat and scarf. I’m making from what I have as best I can, which has caused me to be creative (e.g. fabric from old clothes or sheets, etc.).