If you're like me, you have LOTS of opportunities to give gifts. Baby showers, weddings, children's birthday parties....not to mention family birthdays and Christmas! If not thoughtfully managed, gift-buying can quickly derail both schedule and budget. Here are a few ideas to help keep you on course.
1. Have a "store" at home. It will keep you from having to dash out to the discount or department store every time you need to purchase a gift, saving you time, money and stress. Take advantage of BOGO or clearance sales as you see them, purchasing items that will make great gifts. Keep items someplace dust-free, where you or your children can "shop" when you need a gift. Stacked, labeled Rubbermaid tubs make great gift storage, and allow you to organize gifts and wrapping supplies. Your "store" should include gifts for many occasions, along with gift wrap or bags, baskets, tape, bows, ribbon, and cards. Also, purchase Christmas cards and wrap, and Valentine cards right after the holiday, to save 50% or more on next year's supply. You may find some great basket deals right after Easter, too!
2. Set spending limits. Sometimes, if we buy a last minute gift, the item we need is not on sale, or not available, and we end up spending more than we planned. If you know in advance that you will spend $15 for baby shower gifts, or $25 for weddings, you'll choose appropriate items at sales and markdowns, and not be tempted to overspend.
3. Standardize. If you have certain types of gifts you "always do", it simplifies shopping, wrapping, and deciding what to give. For example, if you always give a baker's basket (recipe book, cute cookie cutters, wooden spoons and an oven mitt) as a wedding shower gift, you can buy in bulk when those items are on sale. Then when you receive an invitation, choosing a gift is a breeze, and you shop at home! Don't be inflexible, though. You could miss out on some fantastic buys if you don't keep your eyes open for new gift ideas.
4. Some gifts I love to give:
Baby shower: A bath basket for Mommy and baby (hooded baby bath towel, washcloths, baby bath wash, small rubber duckies, and scented bath products for Mom)
Wedding: A beautiful cake platter, chaffing dish or salad bowl (love Ross, TJ Maxx and Target for cool items at good prices). Or buy fluffy white bath towels and hand towels during January white sales (discounted 40-50% in many stores), roll up the towels and tie with ribbons in the brides' bath colors (purchased on sale, of course). Put them in an oval wicker laundry basket she can use later!
Child's birthday party: Lego sets (love to find the larger sets on sale!), art sets (sand painting, LiteBrite, jewelry making), movie basket (micro popcorn, candy and a DVD), princess basket (tiara, lots of beads, wand, ballet slippers or slip on "heels")
Teen birthday gift: Disposable digital camera (watch for sales!), spa or makeup basket (watch for BOGOs on costmetics and fragrance), tool kit, or car wash supplies (chamois, tire shine, armor-all, air fresheners, etc).
Happy bargain hunting! Would love to hear your ideas for fun, frugal gifts. Share them in a comment, if you like.
Prayer for Today: Father, help me to be a good steward of all you've entrusted to me. In your name I pray, Amen.