December 12, 2010

$ Cents-Less Gift Giving$

"Christmas is the season when you buy this year's gifts with next year's money."  ~Author Unknown

This is tip #5  from my last $Cents-Less $ post.

$$ 5)  We have to begin somewhere.

If our "style" has been to give lavish or costly personalized gifts
it may be hard for us to change that.
Either because we do not want to disappoint others
Or do not want to admit that we can no longer afford to do that.

If we do not want to go more into debt or are just not able to give as before,
because we no longer have the means to do that,
there are things we can do and still gift to others. 

Memories are about emotion
So give gifts from the heart.

Service gifts are usually appreciated and keep giving even after the Big Day.

It helps if you know the needs of the recipient when deciding what to give.


One mother told me that she so appreciated when her husband watched the children for an hour or two so she could have some time for herself.  (I am not going to comment.)

Yard work coupons.  My son gave me several coupons for 1-2 hrs of yard work that I could cash in on and boy did I.  (Counterfeiting even crossed my mind.)

Childcare.  You can stipulate what days and how many hours you are available.

Sewing.  Offer to take in mending or make a ??? pillow of their choice etc.

Cooking.  Offer a meal or more on designated days that work for you.  Or make and freeze ones with directions for heating attached, maybe adding salad and fresh veggies and bread?

Baking.  Offer to help bake for them for the school carnival, big fund-raising event (they signed up for), a special birthday cake or goodies for each month of the year.

Carpool.  Offer to drive their children to school or an elderly parent to the store or appointment one day a week (?) for a month.

Painting or other home project.  Offer to help or do it yourself if you feel so inclined.

Professional Services.  Give an hour of typing, computer repair, decorating advise, photography, home repairs or landscaping ideas.

REMEMBER- Only offer choices you can live with and be specific about availability if you need to be.

Other ideas:

A cookbook with your families' favorite recipes.  Since my children have all moved away I am aware how often they want to know 'how do you make....?'
This is what I am giving this year.  (Since they don't read my blog it's safe to say.)

A book with the start of your family history.  You can start with a recent story.  Record a favorite family tradition and how it got started.
Then add to it for birthdays and other holidays throughout the year.
These become priceless gifts as we grow older.
(Make sure to keep a copy of each for yourself.)
My sister did this for me but stopped adding.  I was disappointed.
(She doesn't read me either so I don't have to worry about hurting her feelings.)

A movie basket for the whole family with a gift card or a movie itself and popcorn and candy.

Recorded music of their favorite genre or that tell a story of a special time in their lives.
(Can't you hear a song and be swept back to your high school/college days?)

A clothes basket with laundry supplies plus a coupon for a few loads done for them.

A toolbox with the start of basic things that can be added to over the years.  (Although this was not on my sons' list, they are glad they had it when needed and have added to it themselves.)

A bathroom/make-up bag filled with travel items that will be ready to go when they are.

EVERYONE has talent!

Share that with your loved ones.

One Christmas (when I was still married), it was decided amongst the in-laws (upon my request because many of us had little money) to make only homemade gifts for the person whose name was chosen.  
This was not well received at first because they did not consider themselves "crafty" but they went along.  
It ended up being such a touching Christmas that it is still remembered.
One sibling made a VHS (it was a long time ago) holder for his sisters collection of movies.
Another made her famous salsa.
Two were extremely talented in painting ceramics and gave pieces that were personalized.
The two children received homemade quilts and wooden beds for their dolls with their names painted on the foot-board. 

Write a poem.

Compose a song.

Paint a picture.
Make homemade general or thank you cards.

Frame a photo you took.

Write a letter to a loved one telling them how much they mean to you and why.
Or to a parent thanking them for all the 'right' things they did.
These are priceless gifts to the recipient and only cost you some heartfelt feelings.


Maybe you can still purchase gifts but on a smaller budget.

If friends, loved ones, or yourself will hold grudges for not getting what they want, your problems are bigger than money can buy.

It is not a good way to start the year with stress and resentment (at yourself?) because you are in over your head. 

The hardest part is convincing yourself that it is O.K. to change the rules this year.

IT IS O.K.! 

If you are stuck and don't know what to give send it this way and we'll brainstorm!

"Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money."  ~Author Unknown


  1. You're so right about having to change the rules. If the game has changed the rules must also be changed, right? I wish I was crafty and could make gifts for people but alas my skills are more meant for hammers and soldering irons. It's funny you mention being stuck because I think I became partially unstuck just recently. Keep the wisdom coming, I look forward to reading more. :)

  2. I love your ideas, Reyna! The simplicity is what I love the most. I'm surprised at how people respond to gifts that are homemade. They treasure those gifts even more.

    I had a neighbor give me her grandmother's paperweights after she realized that I collected them. It meant so much to me. I will always cherish them.

    I enjoyed your list.

  3. Hey Ed, I challenge you to come up with a gift using a hammer and soldering irons.

    Those are talents I don't possess.
    Don't undersell yourself-unless of course you are using it to get out of "making" a gift.

  4. Thanks Choc-
    How sweet of your neighbor and how gracious of you.
    I would say you are one of the most humble "bloggers" I have met!
    Thank you for your comments.

  5. All right Reyna, you're on! Have no idea what I'm going to do but I'm going to do it.

  6. Great ideas ... I always think the simple, thoughtful gifts are the best. I'm trying to make Christmas less hectic and more meaningful this year.

  7. The service coupons spoke to my heart. I will remember this coz it will be handy in the near future. You really poured out your heart and soul in this post.

  8. I don't have any real talents - except maybe for giving people you think I could give those out as gifts? I have a LOT of them and they are heartfelt and specific about each of my loved ones..... :)


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