15 Dec 2010

Gifts That Won’t Get You Into A Hole

Money Management No Comments

Neal McKenna (Guest Writer) @ Lucid Living

Is the Christmas season destroying your budget? We look at some fun ideas to bring the costs of Christmas giving down.

First of all, we have to remember the Festive Season is about family and friends being together and sharing good times – not about presents. So, if you’re planning to put a lid on excessive spending this year – good for you! It’s possible to be generous yet sensible with your Festive gifting. Don’t think of your thrifty gifts as being cheap – they’re economical – and you’ll have given each one a great deal of thought to make it special.

For starters, what could you make that would be a worthy gift? Do you like to cook & bake? If so, why not make extra chutneys, cookies, tarts and other holiday treats and box them up as gifts? You can even make them ahead of time and freeze them. Everybody loves homemade baking and you probably have some one-of-a-kind family recipes tucked away. People who don’t have your talent in the kitchen will be thrilled to have home-made goodies. Or do you sew? You could make simple gifts like placemat and serviette sets. Again, they would be one-of-a-kind, and special because you made them.

If Home Economics is not your thing, you still might be able to perform a little kitchen magic. How about orange soap slices for the bath? Buy some inexpensive glycerin soap bars and melt them in a double boiler. Add orange oil essence and pour the mixture into a washed, medium-sized jam can. Place a loufa sponge on its end in the centre of the can and let the soap harden.  Remove the solidified soap by placing the can in hot water to melt it slightly. Pull the soap out of the tin with the protruding end of the loufa. Then, cut the soap and sponge into slices and cut them again into halves. The “orange slices” now can be wrapped in netting and make really nice stocking stuffers at a fraction of the cost of buying them.

If you are all thumbs and making things is out of the question, then you will have to be a wise shopper. There are numerous things you can buy on the cheap that are still fun, useful and even memorable. For instance, a magazine subscription makes a thrifty gift that keeps coming back every month for a whole year. Another trick is to do your Festive shopping throughout the year, when you see things on special. This way, you’re not doing all your buying at once and you’re not going to get frazzled in the holiday rush.

Here are a few more ideas. Hobby supplies can be really expensive, but a single item can make an affordable and thoughtful gift. Buy gardening gloves for the gardener, a paintbrush for an artist, scrapbook paper for a scrapbook junkie, or a cooking utensil for the kitchen connoisseur. Give it some thought and you’re sure to come up with a gift for R100 or less for people on your list.

Does a family member have business abroad in places like Thailand or Hong Kong? If so, make sure they do some gift shopping for you. In the Far East, silk robes, tablecloths, runners and clothing are relatively inexpensive but are costly in South Africa. This is an excellent way for you to spend very little but seem like you’ve blown the bank.

Who says you can’t be frugal at this time of year?

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