Christmas is about giving, but that doesn’t mean giving until you drown in debt. The nature of a gift is that it’s something special for each person, which is more about choosing a special gift than about the price tag. When the economy is tight, that’s when the importance of creativity increases. Here are a few ideas that are $10 to $15 for every member of your family:
Mom – At the dollar store, you can find a basket to fill with bubble bath, lotion, nail polish, chocolates, tea cup with tea bags and a paperback novel. Place a card in the basket that gives Mom a Saturday or Sunday off while Dad and the kids make dinner, clean up and let Mom enjoy an afternoon to relax and be off duty.
Dad – Keep his classic car or motorcycle in top condition with a “car care bucket.” Get a large dollar store bucket and stuff it with a wide sponge, soft buffing cloth, spray bottle (fill with water & vinegar from the kitchen to clean windows), liquid car wash, new car scent spray and a spray nozzle for the hose.
Teens – Movie night with a movie rental card tied in a bow around box of microwave popcorn, container of homemade cereal and peanut snack blend, fruit punch drink mix and a pledge from parents to yield the wide screen TV on movie night and allow a sleepover with friends.
Young children – A tote bag packed with small toys like modeling dough, spinning top, kaleidoscope, bouncy ball, color book with small box of crayons and pocket size doll or plastic animals. You can use fabric paint to write the child’s name on the tote and on the opposite side write, “Travel Fun Kit.”
Grandparents – Choose an inexpensive scrapbook with white pages. Create a theme such as our new home, vacation, back to school, camping or a year of birthdays. Add one photo per page with plenty of room for each person to write a story about the photo. Check craft stores for coupons and sales on decorative elements. It doesn’t matter how well you decorate the pages, the real value in this gift is the photos with personal stories.
Neighbors – Buy recycled mason jars at the thrift store. Fill with a mix for muffins, cookies, pancakes or hot chocolate. Add each ingredient separately to create attractive layers. Place a ribbon around the jar and attach a card with instructions for mixing and preparing the treat. Make extras for that last minute gift you don’t expect to need, but might!
Sports and Message Tee fans – Take a stack of old tees. Cut out the message or image from the tee using a 10×10 square cardboard as a template. You can use iron on transfer backing to affix each to a blanket size piece of muslin then decorate with fabric paints. If you sew, use the tee blocks to create a quilt top. Sew (or ask someone to do it) the tee block top to a bold color backing fabric. It’s a light fabric throw for the bed or wall hanging.
So look around you. Notice what each person enjoys and find ways to bring a personal touch gift that’s short on cash and long on caring.