When you’re trying to get yourself into a good financial situation through budgeting there is a lot of sacrifice. This sacrifice is a good thing! You give up eating out, or watching your favorite shows on cable and find less expensive alternatives so that you can have a less stressful, financially free future. But then, the holidays pop up, or it’s someone’s birthday, and buying a gift can feel very stressful and even undo all of your hard work.
Of course, the receiver of this gift would never want you struggling on their behalf. The good news is, you don’t have too! There are so many ways to give gifts that are inexpensive and doesn’t look cheap. These less expensive alternatives can even be way more meaningful than spending a lot of money.
Keep in mind that little phrase you heard all growing up, “It is the thought that counts”.
This is and always will hold true. A thoughtful gesture given with love is always well received. That said, here are a few tips for giving cheap gifts that don’t feel “cheap.”
Most people on a budget are used to getting very creative. Even if you don’t think you so, you’re probably more creative than you realize. All those straggling ingredients you turn into interesting dinners and finding ways to trim your budget are all exercises in creativity.
If you have a particularly special skill, use that to make something awesome. If you’re crafty you can create a piece of art or handmade token. This works great for the holidays. (People love fun and quirky handmade ornaments!)
Of course, there are other options too.
I personally love crafting special books for loved ones with lots of photos and inside jokes tucked inside. If you’re musically inclined you can create a song especially for them. Even if you’re not musically inclined there are lots of autotune apps that you can put music too in the background. (There use to be a lot of free ones, although I haven’t check lately.)
Love to bake? It’s pretty inexpensive to buy ingredients for cookies or a cake. Whip up a tasty treat and wrap it with a pretty bow and you have another great gift idea!
Very few things are more amusing to someone than a gift that was obviously crafted with love, even if it borderlines into the ridiculous. Personalized gifts are far better than any commercially made present. Plus, you can often make these for nearly NO money.
Create a gift stash
If you don’t already do this, it’s a good time to start. Shop for gifts year round. Whenever you see an inexpensive item that makes you think of a friend or loved one, get that and stash it away for special occasions. You can also put gifts you’ve received but know you won’t use in your stash and regift them when there is a good opportunity.
If you are a thrifty shopper and frequent garage sales or thrift stores, you can find gift-giving gold if you keep your eyes open. One of the most memorable gifts I ever received was a “bag of creepy” my friends had gotten me in college. They loaded an old gift bag with strange and unusual things.
It contained an old Ken barbie doll red painted with glitter, a murder mystery board game from the 80’s and a few other “creepy” thrift store finds. It was hard not to laugh at the gift and think of how sweet it was knowing they all went shopping together at the thrift store just for me. Plus they ended up spending less than $5 each, and it’s a gift I remember well 10 years later.
Give them a Service
Great gifts don’t have to be a material possession. You can always gift your time and energy. Think about a pain point your gift receiver has. For someone who lacks the time, you could deep clean the house for them. For a set of parents, you can offer a free night of babysitting while they go and have fun, kid-free. For a partner, you could give them a day of pampering with extra time to relax and foot rubs.
Just make sure if you are giving a service as a gift, you do more than just offer. Make a big effort to go out of your way and do something kind for that person.
Gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant to be meaningful and memorable. A little creativity will go a long way, and people will see the time and effort you put into your gift.