Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Give Gifts without Going Broke

Times are tough now for everyone, making it more difficult to give to those you love. The days when my mom would buy a gift for my friends' birthdays are long gone. Now I get to be the mom doing the buying, and believe me when I say that there's definitely not a lack of opportunities here.

Being the mother of four children who have more than their fair share of friends, and also being someone's sister, daughter, friend.....yeah, you get the point--I've been in the position numerous times where I needed a gift for someone. I don't have the benefit of limitless funds, but I don't want to come across as being a scrooge or a cheapskate either. So what are my options?

Surprisingly, there are several, and they are just as appreciated as their more expensive counterparts:

Find out what books they want to read. Try The Children's Book of the Month Club (http://www.cbomc.com/), or Double Day Book Club (http://www.doubledaybookclub.com/), or The Literary Guild (http://www.literaryguild.com/). You can get good deals on books at all of these sites. They're always offering specials, which makes them convenient to use at any time. If you're just signing up, you get a great deal on enrollment. If you give them your email address you get better offers than by snail mail. You do have to buy a few books (not necessarily at regular price) over the course of two years. Once you do that, you can cancel your membership so you don't have to respond to the featured selections. If you did end up cancelling you could even re-enroll at a later date and get the enrollment deal all over again.

How about a movie? With Columbia House (http://www.columbiahouse.com/) you can get a great deal upon enrollment too. They also give the best deals (such as Buy One, Get One Free) if you give them your email address, and sometimes you even get free shipping on top of that. They also have a certain number of DVDs you have to purchase over the course of two years.

Clothing? For children I prefer The Children's Place (http://www.childrensplace.com/). You can get quality clothes without breaking the bank. They always have what they call "Monster Sales" where you can get deeply discounted clothing for kids of all ages (up to size 12). Sign up with your email address and mailing addresses and you get an additional discount when they send out their coupons (about 3-4 times a year). You can also enter your children's birthdays and receive an email with up to 20% off all their merchandise during the month of your child's birthday. They also offer a Place Perks Card which gives you additional deals. Add to that the paltry $5 flat fee shipping rate, and you can walk out of there with a lot, paying very little.

You can also get good deals at JC Penney (http://www.jcpenney.com/), Kohls (http://www.kohls.com/), Old Navy (http://www.oldnavy.com/) and the Gap (http://www.gap.com/) by signing up for email with them. They also have clearance sections and send out coupon codes to their customers. So you don't have to skimp on quality just because your wallet is money-handicapped.

You can also go the creative route, if you're handy with the crafts. You can make a baby blanket fairly easy with minimal sewing skills (if I can do it, anyone can). You can create a scrap book for someone dear to you. You can put together a special photo frame collage. The possibilities are endless, and you can also get great deals on the web for the products you're looking for. Try Hobby Lobby (http://www.hobbylobby.com/), Hancock Fabrics (http://www.hancockfabrics.com/), Michaels (http://www.michaels.com/) to get you started. They also send out specials and coupons to their customers.

I just found a great article on eHow by kaseysviewblog that can give you plenty of ideas too: http://www.ehow.com/how_4808520_save-money-gift-giving-part.html?fid=4808520

These are just a few tips to get you thinking. I hope you'll find these tips useful.


  1. Good tips on frugal gifts! We went to a little girl's 4th birthday yesterday. My daughter and I spent the afternoon making her a doll quilt using cotton fabric we already had, four squares on one side, batting in the middle and a coordinating fabric on the back. It was darling and took about an hour to make, costing nothing as I had the supplies on hand leftover from other projects.

  2. Hi, Maria! Thanks for sharing that. That was a great idea, and exactly the kind of thing that my kids love doing and also receiving as gifts. Many of those kinds of gifts become keepsakes.