Gift season approaches, and I’ve been struggling on how best to spend what little money I have on all the people in my life who I want to give holiday presents to. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this problem… so I thought I’d share some ideas.
1. Mix CDs - make your friends/family a mix CD with handmade cover artwork. If you can’t afford a stack of CDs, make a virtual CD and share the mp3s with them over Dropbox.
2. Homemade Cookies - Spending $7 on baking ingredients allows you to make a large batch of simple cookies. Divide them and use as gifts for multiple people. Throw on a handmade card and WHAM you got yourself a spiffy gift.
3. Cooking supplies - I’m not talking top of the line Kitchen Aid shit. Go to your local dollar store and buy things like wooden spoons, platters, funny mugs for under $5. Everyone needs at least some cooking supplies!
4. Cacti - Don’t go to a nursery, go to a grocery or department store with a plant section. Cacti are some of the cheapest and easiest to maintain plants, they only really need to be watered once or twice a week. And they look awesome. If the person you had in mind likes to cook, you might want to consider buying them some sort of herb like rosemary or thyme.
5. Bulk food - This might not work for everybody, but I’m sure your broke roommate wouldn’t object to a bulk package of ramen or mac and cheese. They sell 12 packs of ramen at my local dollar store for $1 each. ONE DOLLAR FOR TWELVE MEALS.
6. Unused Books - I’m betting that there’s a book in your apartment/dorm room that’s in perfect condition, but for whatever reason that you will never use again. Wrap it in some gift wrap and scrape off the price tag.
7. Spa Day - For those of you in relationships (or who feel safe touching your close friends/family in that way) make mock “spa coupons”. Offer services such as manicures/pedicures, hair stylings, massages, etc.
8. Use your talents - Are you an artist or musician of any sort? Make a piece of artwork or write a song. Buy a large piece of poster paper at Home Depot for $5 and make a funny collage full of inside jokes that only your friends will understand. Are you a knitter? Make mittens for people.
9. Weird clothing - Go to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill and spend a couple hours combing the shelves for weird items. Funny t-shirts, strange hats, etc. Don’t go to department stores looking for clothing, it’ll be too expensive.
10. “Fancy” Meal - Spend $20 and invite several friends/family members over for a fancy dinner. You don’t need to be a chef or to spend lots of money to make something “fancy”, just make the atmosphere “fancy”. Make pasta with some sort of red sauce and possibly meat. Insist that everyone dresses up, light candles, play jazz standards, take pictures- make a real night of it.
ALSO! If you can’t afford gift wrap use newspaper.