It’s been fun to spend a few days Christmas shopping over the last couple weeks. I started a week ago on Monday and went on a full blitz yesterday – stopping at 19 different stores before I was done. Today I’ve been wrapping and watching a couple cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies (check out this funny Hallmark Christmas movie drinking game).
When we exchange gifts with my wife’s family, we have a very affordable $30 limit and I enjoy the challenge of seeing how much fun I can purchase for that amount. Here are a few of the strategies I’ve used that you might find useful …
- Ornaments – Really nice glass ornaments are marked down 33%-55% the week before Christmas and make for a memorable, appreciated gift. We have a huge ornament collection on our tree and enjoy sharing the ‘hobby’ with others. After the discounts you can get beautiful ornaments for just $5-$10
- Grocery Stores – Who doesn’t want a great box of candy, Pop Tarts, caramel corn, or package of their favorite cookies? For $3-4, you can wrap up a favorite, high-calorie binge. If you want to go all out, you can go to Sam’s or Costco and buy a ginormous pack. Department stores usually have boxed candy & treats in fancy packaging, but the cost is usually 2-3x what you find in the grocery store.
- Old Pictures – This takes some time, but it is great to digitize old photos and share them with family at the holidays. You can frame a special one or two, or scan a bunch of them and put them on a DVD or flash drive.
- Bottles / Refreshment – We are mostly a group of adults, so a bottle of wine, bottle of rum, or 6-pack of an interesting beer is always appreciated. Even a fancy root beer or flavored soda is a welcome new taste for someone who doesn’t drink alcohol. Many people drink the same thing day after day, so it’s fun when someone introduces you to a new taste.
- Joke Gift / Packaging – My nephew and I have been exchanging the same dollar store Barbie every-other-year since he was a little kid and thought it would be a funny joke. I returned Barbie the next year and it has become a game of the funniest way to package her up. This same ‘gift’ has been packaged almost a dozen different funny ways.
- Classic DVDs – Its amazing how cheaply you can get great DVDs nowadays. I’ve picked them up at flea markets, thrift stores, and even pawn shops for just a couple bucks a disc. They are “pre-owned” but I double check they still play well. Many times I find disks that are still wrapped in their original plastic. For the price, I will usually wrap three up together.
- Gift Cards – Gift Cards are easy to give, but I like to wrap the card up with something else to make them a little more fun. The Dollar Store is filled with funny bric-a-brac that can you can use as a ‘wrapping base’. A small box of LEGOs, a small plush, or a Hot Wheels car might only cost a buck, but make a gift card more fun to wrap and funny to open.
- Classic Art Print – Our son is a poor college student and one of the gifts he liked the most last year was a simple print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. How simple & sophisticated to have a priceless work of featured on your wall for the price of a poster or canvas print?
- Classic Board Game – Even better than getting a board game is to get one packaged with a giant bag of popcorn and a free afternoon “date” between Christmas and New Years to play. Almost any boxed game is less than $20 and there are many fun ones that sell of under $10.
With a $30 limit, I try to combine a few different things for each person so that there are more packages to open. While it would be easy to raise the limit, I enjoy the challenge of trying to find things that ‘fit’ each person’s interests without simply resorting to the lowest-common-denominator gift cards.
Any other simple, low cost holiday gift ideas?
Image Credit: MrFireStation.com