Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thirteen Economy-Friendly Christmas Gift Ideas

By Barbara Davis

This Christmas can be a challenging time for many who are unemployed or in fear of becoming unemployed. We may think that we have to forgo Christmas gift-giving altogether. Fortunately, with some planning, creativity, and a little help from Google, we can manage to put together some low-or-no-cost gifts. A few of these are listed below:

Help a local charity

Charity donations fall during economic hard times. To help offset this, and take care of your Christmas shopping at the same time, make an affordable donation to a charity someone on your gift list is passionate about. You can also purchase inexpensive gifts or treats from charity thrift stores and bake sales.

Make life easier for someone

If you have an elderly or chronically ill person on your list, think of some budget-friendly items that will make his or her life easier. Assemble these things in a box, booklet, folder or other container. Items assembled can be anything from an address booklet complete with contact names and numbers, stamps, gift cards, pens and papers, a pill organizer, a box of non-perishable food, large-print books or anything else that might benefit the intended recipient. This same idea is useful for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances in their lives.

Frame a child’s artwork

Purchase an inexpensive frame for the adorable picture a little one created. Let the child decorate some plain brown wrapping paper or plain white paper. Wrap the picture in the paper for a gift Grandma and Grandpa (or others in the child’s life) are sure to love.

Shop at a dollar discount store

A treasure-trove of nice-looking gifts can be found in stores where everything is a dollar. Depending on your budget, you can create themed baskets or boxes for the college-bound teen or the young adult who just rented her first apartment with gift items from these stores. is an excellent source for buying cases of items throughout the year, which can help in creating themed baskets or boxes without blowing the budget.

Turn used items into neat gifts

Plant some herbs in a never-used ceramic teapot for the cooking enthusiast on your gift list. Transform a variety of old clothes and accessories into a “dress up box” for a child. Decorate a box or purchase one at a dollar discount store. Glue colorful buttons on the box in the formation of the child’s name. Use your scanner and printer to create copies of Grandma or Grandpa’s old photographs to give to the history buff on your gift list. Used book stores and flea markets are excellent sources of inexpensive gift items as well.

Craft a favorite quote

If you sew, needlepoint, paint, or have artistic-looking handwriting, create your favorite quote on cloth or paper to frame. If you don’t feel you possess any of these skills, get creative with your computer or printer to create a beautiful and unique framed quote.

Use your printer and computer to transform ordinary household items into pretty gifts

Experiment with colors, font sizes, border art, and Google Images to create labels and pictures. Almost anything can be personalized in this way. Plain candles get a boost when several of them are labeled with beautifully crafted letters and grouped together to spell words.

Fill a pretty container with samples or trial size products

Pretty containers found in discount and thrift stores, yard sales or flea markets can make wonderful gifts when filled with sample or trial sized products. These can be purchased a little at a time to be easier on the budget.

Inventory your talents

Take a good look at the many things you do well – almost any type of talent can lend itself to gift-giving. A child is sure to enjoy a tape of you reading their favorite book. Your parents might like the scrapbook you made of trips you took with them. Delight others on your wish list with hand-made booklets containing household hints, favorite recipes, or anything else you may be skilled in or knowledgeable about.

Raid the flower garden or house plants

If you have plant-lovers on your wish list, buy several inexpensive containers and pot some flower cutlets in them. Wrap a decorative ribbon around the containers.

Decorate a large home-made cookie

Instead of making a dozen cookies from your recipe, bake the entire batch in a large round cake pan. Decorate it in whatever theme or colors is inspired by the intended recipient. Wrap with colorful plastic wrap and a pretty ribbon.

Create a “throw” with fabric remnants

Fabric remnants come in a wide variety of materials, designs, colors, patterns and themes. Choose something that reflects the interest of the intended recipient, and trim with matching ribbon. If you don’t sew, use hemming tape to secure the ribbon.

Brainstorm your own ideas

Write down the names of the people you want to give gifts to. Beside each name, write their interests, passions, or personality traits. Explore your own talents and the magic of cyber space to come up with unique and thoughtful low-or-no-cost gifts that are sure to please everyone on your list.

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