To follow up on last week’s column, figuring out what to buy a loved one requires a good memory, a little detective work and a well thought-out budget. However, when we finally buckle down to buy the gift, are there any creative and thrifty ways to do so? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Using resources such as friends, the Internet and local businesses, here are some key suggestions that will help you in your thrifty, cost-saving journey.
There are local thrift shops where you can find many new and gently used items that are inexpensive and perfectly suitable to give as gifts. One place in particular is the Alcove Thrift Shop located next to the Tilton 9 Theatre in Northfield. You’ll find good stuff and be helping a good cause at the same time — the Alcove Center for Grieving Children & Families.
A few other great ideas, courtesy of my friend Jean Maskuli, include:
CustomizedGirl.com — Check out their discount section and make awesome, personalized items for friends and family. Quick delivery, too! Items are priced as low as $11.
UStarNovels.com — Create a novel (from classic to vampire romance) where your friend or family member is the star. The cost is $25 before shipping, but it makes an awesome gift!
Donations — You can donate as little as $5 to $10 in someone’s honor, and many places will send the recipient a card saying that a donation was made without specifying how much (check with your charitable organization first, as not all policies are the same). This is another case of being thrifty while charitable at the same time.
Good Deed Coupons — Just make up coupons where you write IOUs that can be redeemed at any time. Examples might be “babysit for an hour,” “clean the house,” “a romantic dinner or a movie” — whatever. They’re thoughtful gifts that don’t cost anything — at least not immediately.
AlphabetPhotography.com — This isn’t cheap, but too cool not to mention. Just type in your name and get individualized art. It would be perfect for a college student’s dorm room or businessperson’s office space.
Along the lines of Jean’s good-deed coupons idea, a similar concept would be to gift your skill set. In other words, if you are good at cooking, cleaning, designing, photography, fixing things, etc., then gift a certificate to someone for those services.
While you’re at it, some of the most thoughtful gifts are those that are homemade. For instance create a photo book. Or make your own greeting card. It can be so easy with computer paper, markers, glue, shiny accessories and ribbon.
There are certainly an abundant amount of online places to shop, however for local action you can head to either The Walk in Atlantic City or the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing. On the mall front, specials are posted regularly on the shophamilton.com special values page. And if you need your gifts wrapped, make sure to check out the Ruth Newman Shapiro Cancer & Heart Fund gift-wrap booth, which opens on Dec. 10 across from the food court. If you happen to be at the Shore Mall, gift wrapping to benefit Shaloma Hadassah also begins Dec. 10.
On shoestringmag.com there are 15 different ways to save money. Here are a few that stood out. First, use photo.stamps.com to personalize with a photo of yourself so when you send a card it will have more meaning. Second, opt for “Secret Santa” over playing Santa. Make a limit, such as $50 max, so you can buy one person something big versus many people little things. Third, use recyclables and everyday/household materials or gifts themselves as your holiday wrapping. There is a book called Simply Green Giving that gives examples, such as turning a potato chip bag inside out for wrapping paper or using the inside of an old VHS tape for ribbon.
If you are buying for kids, on abcnews.go.com there is a great article called “Trick Kids with Size.” It states that “big-ticket” gifts don’t have to be big in price. Kids are often fooled by size — thinking the more room presents take up under the tree, the more fun and flashy they are. So this year, buy big inexpensive gifts like art easels or snow sleds.
No matter what your gift-giving style, remember it’s the thought that counts!
Whitney is an on-air multimedia personality, and works behind the scenes helping businesses gain extra exposure, through her WIN Promotions video production services.