But let's face it: Gifts can add up.
As usual, I'd love to hear your ideas for saving on meaningful gifts. Here are some of mine:
- Shop all year. As I find quality clearance items in online and brick-and-mortar stores, I purchase them. For example, I take advantage of Black Friday sales. In 2009, I only made it to a couple stores' sales, but I scooped up Christmas gifts for my son and gift exchange person, a birthday gift for my father-in-law, and a Father's Day gift for my dad—all great deals. My husband chuckles that I purchase gifts so early, but why not? It saves not only money but also later time and the stress of finding a suitable present.
Some items that I purchase are more generic, which I use for prizes at parties or hostess gifts or something similar. Some are just perfect for a particular person, and I tuck them away for that individual's birthday or other special occasion, even if it's months away. If online, I purchase several gifts at once so I have the minimum purchase amount for free shipping (for stores that offer such deals).
- Ship in a suitcase: I only visit my far-away family a couple of times a year, but when I do, I try to bring with me gifts for the next several months' birthdays and celebrations. This saves me shipping costs and no doubt the gifts are a little prettier since I bring wrapping supplies with me and put the presents together there.
- Offer your talent: It's true that the most meaningful gifts come from the heart. Use your talent to offer a loving gift or a thoughtful act of service.
I'm not too crafty, but it's fun to make my own greeting cards on occasion, which save a little and seem more personal. I've also made people small photo albums of memories and written and framed poems.
A few years ago, I purchased a frame with three photo openings to give my dad for Father's Day. On one side, I inserted a picture of my little-girl self with my dad; on the opposite was a picture of the two of us walking down the aisle on my wedding day. The center photo opening held a poem of gratitude that described our close relationship through the years.
- Recycle: You might think this is terribly tacky, but I know I am not alone: I re-use gift bags and tissue paper that are in good condition. I think I'm set for life for baby gift bags after many generous people gave me beautifully wrapped presents in anticipation of Jack's birth.
I admit I have on occasion also recycled gift cards. If I receive a gift card I am not particularly excited about using for myself, I use it to purchase a gift for someone else.