Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cheap and Thoughtful Last Minute Gifts

Flowers are one Thoughtful Gift!
Have you ever been in a situation when you realized that you need to quickly produce a gift, and you have very little time or money?  Most of us have been faced with this problem at some time in our lives.  If you are a new retiree on a fixed income, this can be even more of a challenge.  You really have to watch what you spend, and you don't want to go into debt just to provide gifts for others.  What are some ways to handle this situation?

Prepare Ahead

One solution is to go to garage sales and estate sales in your area, and buy inexpensive items that you can keep on hand.  Don't overdo it.  However, if you can find a few pretty vases for under $5, or some lovely mismatched plates for a dollar or two, buy them and put them aside.  Then, when you need an inexpensive gift, you can wrap up one of the vases in a pretty box, or fill it with flowers from your garden and not even bother to wrap it when you give it away!  The plates are a handy way to present gifts of a homemade cake, cookies or candy.  Simply place the baked goods on the plate and present it to a friend, telling them to keep the plate.  If you are unable to find any suitable plates or vases at local estate sales, check out the Dollar Store or .99 Cent Store in your community.  You can usually find something there.

Regifting Can Be Fun

Another idea for a thoughtful and cheap gift is to regift something that has been given to you.  I frequently attend gift exchanges around the holidays.  When I end up with something I know I will not use, I store it in a closet and re-gift it the next year.  Careful, though!  Be sure you mark down where you received the gift, so you pass it on somewhere else.  You would hate to give it to the person who gave it to you ... or their best friend!

Dinner Invitations

If you need a gift right now, and have nothing on hand, write out an invitation on a piece of personal stationery and invite your friends to dinner at your home in two or three weeks.  Be specific and do not make it some vague date.  If they have to change it, you can work it out with them; but, start with a specific date in mind.  Your friends will love being your guests ... and you probably would have invited them to dinner at some point, anyway!

Gift Donations

You can also sit down at the computer and make a donation to a friend's favorite charity.  Then, tuck the receipt into a gift card and present it to them.  If you have chosen the right charity, they will be delighted by your thoughtfulness!  Many people love to receive a donation as a gift.

Really, Really Last Minute Gifts

Are you on the way to a party right now, and you realize you desperately need to pick up a cheap gift on the way?  Don't despair!  You can pick up a bottle of wine and a gift bag at the liquor store, or a flowering plant at the grocery store.  If you need something for a white elephant gift exchange, pick up two or three funny local tourist gifts at the local convenience store.  Items like bottle openers, shot glasses and hats promoting a local sports team are perfect for those silly gift exchanges, and someone might actually like them!

Whatever you decide to take with you, stick to your budget.  All of us are very money conscious these days, and there is no need to break your budget purchasing gifts that may end up on someone else's re-gifting shelf!

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