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Copyright 2007

Save Money On Gifts

No matter how much we love the person we are buying a gift for, there are limits to what we can spend on them. We are surrounded by advertising and perfect TV lives, and this pressures us to give ďgoodĒ presents to show we care.

The reality is, people will love and be happiest with a gift from the heart rather than a gift with a huge price tag. There are ways to cut gift giving costs without cutting back on the thought and value of the gift given.

Start Early

By far the best tip is to start early. Knowing who you need presents for during the year makes it easier to grab bargains when you see them. It also means you have time to shop around, think of what to get and not be forced into buying from a boutique because itís convenient in the last minute rush.

Keep an eye for specials on wrapping paper, cards, ribbons and other useful items. It is much easier to have a stock at home ready for any event that comes up during the year.


Shop outside the square

Big shopping centres have drawing power, but they are not the only places to find gifts.

Go to the discount shops and warehouse outlets for bits and pieces. You may be surprised at how many gifts you can get at such places, or you may just find lots of items you can make into wonderful gifts. For example, a glass photo frame can be painted and have a picture added for under $5 to make a beautiful, personal gift, or fill a box with pencils, crayons, scrapbook, glue and scissors for a budding artist.

Donít forget other shops can provide good gifts, too. Hardware and craft shops have tools for the enthusiast as well as bits and pieces for others, office suppliers have nice pens and diaries, neighbourhood houses sometimes sell crafts and books whilst speciality schools may have accessories available.

Instead of one big gift, consider putting two or three smaller items together and presenting it as a set. For instance,

*  A heat pack with some massage oil

*  Hot Chocolate powder and a lavender sachet to encourage sleep

* Bath salts and a lovely candle

* Shower gel, moisturiser and talc of the same scent

* A novel and some chocolates or biscuits

* A steering wheel cover and a bottle of car polish

* A sunhat with sunscreen and insect repellent

Local garage sales and fetes, as well as second hand shops, can be a source of many wonderful items. People sometimes sell unused items at these sales at a fraction of the original cost. Other items, especially toys, look as if they are new and will be treasured by a young child regardless of its origin.

Old pieces of china or cutlery can be used creatively, or may even be the latest funky fashion! Cushions and paintings may be done up with a new cover or new frame for much less than an entirely new equivalent would have cost.

Garage sales are often held as children outgrow their old toys, books and entertainments. Many videos, books, board games and puzzles (count the pieces are there!) are in excellent condition and young children arenít fussy if the original box is missing.

Baskets, boxes, bowls and buckets at sales may be useful for presenting gifts. Just wash them in warm water and leave them to dry before use, and possibly line them with fabric or paper for effect. Fill a bread basket with jams and tea packets, a mixing bowl with a recipe book and some fancy ingredients or a handled basket could become Little Red Hiding Hoodís basket of goodies for imaginative play.

Look for old plant pots and use one as a gardenerís gift box Ė add some seed packets, a pair of gloves, plant ties and the like before wrapping in green cellophane. Plant cuttings can also be grown up as a nice gift Ė herbs are particularly nice and they can be presented in many different containers for fun!


Other Gift ideas

A bit of creativity can result in some gifts that will be appreciated by your friends and family without having to cost you a small fortune. Sometimes, the cheapest gifts are the most treasured.

Make some vouchers as gifts. Give new parents a voucher for a nightís babysitting, a busy couple may appreciate a dayís housework, isolated people would love half a day of your company to go shopping, take a child to their favourite park for two hours, mow the lawns or weed the garden for some relatives, or feed a pet loverís animal for a week.

There are a multitude of vouchers you can present and people will love them if you have thought about what they need. If you have particular skills, the voucher can reflect that Ė teach them to play piano, tidy their accounts, give a massage, cook some meals, service a car, paint a mural or organise their junk room.

Use your time and skills to make presents rather than buying them. Donít go overboard though, as it may end up costing more if you use expensive fabrics or materials. Homemade biscuits, cakes and sweets are always appreciated, as are home grown flowers and vegetables.

If you can sew or paint, consider making items to match a friendís dťcor, maybe using scraps from their curtains or couch covers. Make some table centrepieces using florists foam and various cones, berries, leaves and flowers, many of which you will be able to find in gardens and parks around you.

Choose a favourite poem or song, print it in a beautiful font and present it nicely in a frame or mount it. The paper can be soaked in tea for an aged look if desired. A photo may be framed with it and you might consider writing a poem yourself if you are a poet.


Children

Children love making gifts, and people who love them will also be thrilled by the childís efforts. Instead of the children giving bought gifts, help them to make some useful craft items such as a photo frame, bath salts, biscuits, magnets and calendars.

Children are often showered with presents, even if they have an array of toys already. Given this, they probably donít need a lot more toys so donít feel obliged to give them piles of presents or everything they ask for.

Not everything needs to be fancy, either. Most children would be very happy with a video you make for them by taping their favourite TV shows or themselves and people they love. Make a book or photo scrapbook about your child during the year and give it to them on for their birthday Ė if you do this regularly, they will have a lovely set of mementoes as an adult.

Stockings do not have to be saved for Christmas. Make up a stocking of sorts (use a box, library bag, backpack or whatever comes to mind) and top it up with home made biscuits (make the childís name or favourite animal shapes,) bathers, scrunchies and hair ties, biscuits cutters for playdough, a new toothbrush, name labels for belongings, socks, pencils, glitter glue, stickers, pieces of fruit, bubble bath and many little items you may otherwise get for them anyway.

 
There really is pleasure to be found in giving, and this is multiplied when you have really put in effort for the gift. By putting time into the gift, instead of money, you will be rewarded with satisfaction and a bigger bank balance!


Tash Hughes is a Mum of two in Melbourne. She is also a writer and owner of Word Constructions. Tash is available to write articles and profiles for any business, as well as doing other business documentation projects. You can see her site and services at www.wordconstructions.com


 

 

 

 

 

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