It’s the third week in December. You’re sprinting down the aisle at the drug store, trying to find a small holiday gift for your child to give his teacher. Or you stop by the grocery store on your way home from work, looking for something to give the co-worker who brought you a tin of home-baked cookies. Being caught empty-handed at this time of year can be embarrassing – and expensive, too.
When you’re in a rush, you tend to spend more. That’s why it’s a good thing to put together a stash of inexpensive gifts to keep on hand at this time of year. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
1. A good read
Many paperback books are priced at $10 or less. If you want to kick it up a notch, buy an inexpensive bookmark to go with it – or pull out your craft supplies and make one.
2. A framed memory
Picture frames are another gift that just about everyone can use. Make a cheap frame more special by inserting a photo print of you and your giftee doing something together.
3. A cup of cheer
Cheap coffee mugs (under $5) are readily available at many stores this time of year. For a few dollars more, fill the mug with something they’ll like – instant hot chocolate packets, a few tea bags or even their favorite candy.
4. A movie bundle
Check out Walmart, Target, or other retailers for DVDs priced as low as $5. A DVD alone would make a great gift. For a few dollars more, add a plastic bowl and a bag or two of microwave popcorn. Arrange the DVD and the popcorn in the bowl. Wrap it all up in clear plastic tied with a holiday ribbon, and you’ve got a movie night bundle just about anyone would love.
5. Hot stuff
If some people on your gift list like spicy food, pick up a bottle or two of hot sauce (available at $3 or less per bottle) at most grocery stores. Bundle the sauce up with a bag of crackers and a recipe card with instructions for making your favorite chili.
Start Now, Be Ready
These ideas will give you a start – but they may also inspire you to come up with all kinds of creative, inexpensive gift ideas of your own. If you have several people who might like the same gift, you could save even more money by purchasing some items in sets (like a 4-pack of coffee mugs or a 24-pack of tea bags) and splitting them up to make multiple gifts for people on your list.
It’s also great to keep a few spare gifts tucked away just in case. This time of year, you never know when you’ll need an extra gift for someone. If your budget permits, start buying these items now and have them ready to wrap by mid-month. Chances are you’ll save some money and save yourself some stress as well.