Frugal Gift Giving Ideas

Frugal Gift Giving Ideas

The holiday gift giving season is getting underway, and for those of us pinching our pennies, this can definitely add stress to our budgets. Let’s use this as an excuse to get creative with our gift giving. Not only can we save some cash, but we can also give memorable gifts!

1) Give the Gift of Time

Sometimes the very best gift is the gift of yourself. Think about the people on your list. What do they like to do? Plan a day to do that WITH them. Do you have a family member who enjoys hiking? Plan a unique day of hiking and enjoy the outdoors together. Do you enjoy cooking? Offer to teach younger family members how to cook. They get new skills and the gift of your time. How about a movie buff? Borrow some DVDs, pop some popcorn and plan a night in.

2) Give your Services

We all have talents, and this is a great way to use them. Whether it’s sewing, babysitting, gardening, or housecleaning, give a “service gift certificate” for your loved ones to enjoy.

3) Preserve Some Memories

It seems we are constantly snapping pictures these days now that cell phones with cameras makes that easy. But what do we DO with all of those photographs? Make a collage of special photos from throughout the year or frame an especially meaningful one and present it with a handwritten note about what those memories have meant to you.

4) Journal It

This is an especially good gift for a parent or child. Find a pretty journal—or create one yourself—and fill it with all the wonderful memories you have of that person. Let that person know how special they have been to you throughout their lives. Let a parent know how they have helped shape who you are and made the holidays memorable for you. Tell your child how happy you were when they came into this world and highlight how you felt during big moments in their lives.

5) Gift Cards

No, a gift card isn’t always as meaningful as some of the previous ideas, but sometimes we get these cards as bonuses with purchases, as rebates or rewards. Save those—watch for expiration dates of course—and use them as easy gifts.

6) Free Samples

Peruse online freebie sites throughout the year, “like” various things on Facebook and redeem coupons for freebies that you get in the mail or in your email. Often you can create a really nice gift from these by putting them into a pretty basket or cute container. This is especially true of health and beauty items—these seem to be plentiful, you can easily make a fun “relaxation” basket from these, and who wouldn’t enjoy getting that as a gift?

The best part is, you give yourself a gift too—the gift of a mailbox NOT filled with holiday bills in January!

Photo Credit: iClipart

5 Practical Gift Suggestions for Frugal People

Gift shopping for other people can be a difficult task. It can be especially difficult if you are shopping for someone who is very careful with how money is spent. Is extravagance the key to a frugal person’s heart? Not usually.  Here are some great gift suggestions you may want to consider:

1) A Coffee and Espresso Maker

A DIY machine such as a Coffee and Espresso Maker is a gift any frugal person would love. He or she would be able to enjoy a delicious, luxurious cup of coffee without having to buy an overpriced latte at the coffee shop.

2) Subscriptions and Gift Cards

If you know the recipient well enough, think about getting him or her a subscription or gift card to a service often used or a store often frequented. Consider getting your mom a gift card to the grocery store, or giving your roommate a Netflix subscription.  You can even get your gift cards at a discount if you buy them from Plastic Jungle or Cardpool.

3) Reusable Shopping Bags

A reusable shopping bag is perfect for someone who lives both a frugal and green life. There are so many benefits to passing on plastic! With a reusable shopping bag, one will be able to save money and the environment at the same time.

4) A Home Energy Monitor

A home energy monitor may not seem like an obvious gift choice—but it is one that a frugal person would very much appreciate. A handheld energy monitor can be attached to almost any appliance, measuring just how much energy it consumes. It’s a great tool for identifying which appliances need replacing or repairing.

5) A Gift Basket

Although food baskets are always a well-received gift, you may want to take it a step further by giving something even more practical. Laundry, gardening, cleaning, sewing or kitchen gift baskets are some other great options.

When gift shopping for someone frugal, a great tip is to search for gifts that will help the recipient save money over the next few weeks, months or even years. Put some thought into your gift and the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness for years to come.

Photo Credit: iClipart

Tasty Tuesday: Crazy for Cake Pops

My friend Lynsey from MoscatoMom.com has a Babycakes cake pop maker that she uses to create all sorts of things and she really inspired me to get one.  The cake pop maker is perfect not just for making easy homemade gifts and inexpensive party foods, but also for making smaller bite sized portions that are great for kids (like my five!) and dieters (like me).  Plus it’s SO much fun and the kids really enjoy helping out.  Here are some great ideas for using your cake pop maker:

1) Gift Bouquets

I absolutely love the idea of being able to make cake pop gift bouquets for all sorts of occasions like birthdays, teacher appreciation gifts, and for holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.  Using scrapbook paper inside a clear acrylic cup is a great way to create a matching display for these gorgeous brown and blue themed bouquets from Make A Whisk.

2) Weddings & Showers

These adorable bride and groom cake pops are terrific for wedding or shower favors, centerpieces, and for noting seat assignments.  There are lots of wonderful designs for weddings, like these glitter monogram pops from Cake Pop Star, and they can easily be done in the wedding colors.

3) Themed Parties

The possibilities for creating decorative cake pops for any theme are simply endless!  The beer cake and bacon frosting golf ball cake pops shown above were created by 1 Fine Cookie for a Father’s Day party, but you could make honeybee cake pops for a spring party, watermelon cake pops for a summer party, or these gorgeous baby girl cake pops for a baby shower.

4) Holidays

Cake pops are wonderful treats or gifts for any holiday like these spooky skull cake pops from The Sugar Turntable for Halloween.  Red, white and blue cake pops arranged as a flag make a great display for a 4th of July barbecue, and chocolate dipped cake pops with pretzel antlers and red hot noses make yummy Rudolph cake pops for Christmas.

5) Neat Displays

There are so many neat display ideas to choose from like this gorgeous ribbon and tulle covered cardboard “cake stand”.  You can create your own styrofoam displays or buy ready to go cardboard, wood or lucite cake pop stands.

6) Cake Pop Cakes

Creating tiered “cakes” from cake pops is a whimsical yet elegant way to display lots of cake pops for large numbers of guests.  This wedding cake made from cake pops is a neat example and is also perfect for providing different flavors, simply make each tier a flavor and display a flavor key on a card nearby.

7) Other Stuff

You can use most any kind of mix in your cake pop maker to make quick and delicious snacks like banana nut bread pops, blueberry muffin pops, and pancake pops!  My friend Lynsey even uses hers to make refrigerated cinnamon rolls from a tube and to make her own delicious version of corn dog pops.

Check out my Crazy for Cake Pops Pinterest board for many more great cake pop ideas!

I highly recommend Plan to Eat for a great place to store all your favorite recipes! Check it out with a free trial and see how easy it is to add recipes from the Internet, plan meals for your family and even print out a handy grocery list.

10 Frugal Valentine’s Day Gift & Date Ideas

  1. Empty a box of chocolates and cut out enough paper hearts from lace doilies, fabric, wrapping paper, construction paper, or fabric to fill each space.  Write a loving note on each heart and place them in the empty chocolate spaces. Be specific and say things like “I love when you run your fingers through your hair”, “You look sexy in your ____________”, “It makes my day when you ______________”.  Tie the box with a red ribbon and present it to your Valentine.
  2. Check with your local area colleges to find one near you with an observatory.  They’re usually free or very inexpensive to visit and are open to the public during the school year.  What could be more romantic than an evening spent gazing at the stars with your significant other?
  3. Attend a wine or beer tasting.  This type of social event is a great way to begin or end an evening and since you typically only pay an attendance fee of around $10-15 you can get more buzz for your buck.
  4. Go out for a dance lesson!  With all the popular dancing shows on television there are dance studios springing up all over – find one near you and inquire whether the first lesson is free because they often are.
  5. Take your special someone out for a pizza at your favorite pizzeria, but call or visit ahead of time and make arrangements to have your toppings placed in the shape of a heart as a surprise.  Other than a healthy tip, this romantic move will cost you nothing extra.
  6. Pretend your home is a fancy spa – light candles, turn the music on low and treat each other to a massage before running a bubble bath.  Send the kids to grandma’s house for this one and extend the treat by sleeping in the next day.
  7. If there’s way too much snow on the ground for a romantic walk, find a hill and go sledding!  Use trash can lids as makeshift sleds if you must, then cuddle up by the fireplace with hot chocolate afterward.
  8. Plan a day trip.  Find a national monument, beach, lake, historic place or other nearby sightseeing location and then pick some great music to listen to on the drive.
  9. Check the websites of your favorite restaurants for specials or coupons, or buy a gift certificate from Restaurant.com to get a steep discount on your meal.
  10. Take a pottery or ceramics class together and make each other gifts.  No matter how they turn out, you’ll likely treasure the final product and fondly remember your “date” each time you see it.