Monday, November 17, 2008

Generous Holiday Gifts without Breaking the Bank

With the economy down, everyone is looking for a way to save a buck this holiday season. There is a big difference between being generous, and spending money. Buy nice things for loved ones as long as you can afford it. Anyone that you care enough to buy presents for, should hopefully care enough back to not want you to commit financial suicide via credit card to show your appreciation. Here are a few ways to be overly generous this season with out breaking the bank:

  • Crafts - Many crafts can be made for cheap, and can be something original that people will appreciate. Try making your grandpa a wooden bird house, or your mom a scrap book of family photos. Make your brother or sister a Compilation CD of featuring their favorite music. Small Crafts can be a great stocking stuffer, that can be mass produced in an afternoon. They can be sent in addition to gifts to all your friends and family.

  • Sentimental Items - You can symbolically give something that is meaningful in your life to a loved one. If you have your first boyscout knife, or an antique compass, or a family heirloom that someone else can appreciate, that can be the most memorable gift of all.

  • Coupons - Take an afternoon to make some coupons that really show you care. If you have friends with young kids make a coupon for a night of babysitting. Make one to wash a friend's car, or my favorite a volunteer sober driver ticket. This is a great opportunity to get creative. Volunteer your time to do an oil change, paint someone's house, or host a fancy dinner party for some friends at your house and set a date in the card.

  • Baked Goods - Like crafts these can be made fairly cheap, and can be divided among many people. Nothing says Happy Holidays like bringing in a plate of home-made cookies to the office.

  • A Treasure Map - If the kids are old enough to roam the neighborhood, it can be fun to make a treasure map with clues and let them discover little gifts leading to a buried treasure. In order for this to work, find a park or some secret location to bury whatever treasure. Work backwards, leave a clue with a small trinket in another location, maybe duct taped under a bench describing where to find the treasure. Then at another new location, like under a flower pot, leave another clue with a small trinket describing where to find the last clue. Make a handful of consecutive clues. After all the clues are in place leading to the treasure. Draw a treasure map to the first clue, and some dotted line trails. Do not put any additional clues on the map except the first one. Make each clue necessary to find the treasure. This will keep them occupied for a while and they'll never forget it.

Without sounding like a total cheapskate, these are just some ideas to help save money when applicable. I also plan on buying gifts for my friends, and family. You can only give out so many cookies (just kidding). Happy Holidays.

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