Frugal Gifts

I remember back to an etiquette class I took in college where I was taught that a proper gift was something that someone wouldn’t usually buy or do for themselves. I often think back to this when I’m planning a gift for someone. I try to put myself in their shoes and think of what would be special for them.

Gift giving and receiving are normal parts of our lives. Often many of the holidays we have today were created or expanded by businesses for their benefit. Valentines Day can be a very materialistic holiday, and for most people it is. Each year my husband and I make a fondue and champagne dinner together. We used to go out for dinner, but found it more romantic and less stressful (not to mention less expensive) to make at home. The fondue restaurants in our area were always full and it was difficult to make reservations. Since there was such a demand for this day, we felt rushed and there was usually a set (and more expensive) menu. When at home we are relaxed and enjoy both making and eating the dinner together.

This is another area where most American’s have become excessive, materialistic, and wasteful. We need to get back to the thought pattern that, “It’s the thought that counts.” Does Dad need or even want another tie for Father’s Day? This is especially true when Dad rarely if ever wears a tie. It is much more practical to spend $20 on something that the gift receiver will truly enjoy than $50+ for something that will just clutter up their home. Do your children really need a large quantity of presents just to open (items that they don’t need or even really want), or would they prefer one or two items that they really want and will be able to use? If that special person really doesn’t “need” anything, entertainment is a good option. Gift certificates for movie tickets, dining out, a manicure, massage, etc are great options. In this time of high gas prices and other economic problems we daily live with, so many people are cutting back on leisure activities they once took for granite. With a little thought and creativity, you can chose that gift they will enjoy using.

In this time of financial difficulty (or at least uncertainty) for most Americans and many around the world, we must consider our own financial situation before we decide how much to spend on gifts. If $20 or more is doable for your financial situation, then stick to what you can afford. If that amount would be a hardship on you, be truthful in that fact with yourself and consider a creative solution to show that person you care. A card, or phone call will show that special person that you didn’t forget their birthday. You could invite that special friend over for coffee for her birthday, bake the chocolate lover a batch of brownies or a cake (inexpensive if made from scratch), or offer to baby sit so the “birthday girl or guy” can go out for a special birthday dinner. Don’t undervalue your time as a gift. To the typical person in a fast paced society, your time can be a very valuable gift.


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