By Jamie Lober
Giving a meaningful gift to a friend or loved one does not mean breaking the bank. There are plenty of thoughtful gift ideas that will stay within your budget. The best gifts may not come in a box with a bow on top.
A great way to begin is to consider how you can support the local economy such as buying candy, coffee or cookbooks by local or regional chefs. Anything handcrafted is always a plus as nobody will be able to duplicate it.
Thrift shops like Clothes Less Traveled carry fashion and fine jewelry at low prices. If you do your research you will find that many thrifts are more than just a store. They often have charitable missions where proceeds help veterans, rescue animals or send kids to college.
If you know your way around the kitchen you may be able to customize your own cookbook and share your best-kept secrets with friends. For the friend who does not cook much, get him a starter tool like a potato peeler, can opener or pastry cutter. Stationery and a nice pen can be great additions to any office or kitchen. In an age of technology, it can be considered thoughtful and significant to receive a letter by postal mail. Journals and notebooks can also be good picks.
Sometimes you can find deals online for out-of-towners or loved ones who may be visiting for the holidays. To share the Southern hospitality you may gift items like wood ornaments, coffee blends, cinnamon whipped honey, t-shirts, hats and gift baskets that are peach-themed, represent Fayette County, Atlanta, the Atlanta Braves or Georgia Bulldogs are well-liked. You can also find mugs that picture iconic landmarks and favorite spots around the city.
Home décor is appreciated by the homemakers on your shopping list. A candle scented like a gingerbread cookie or candy cane is sure to make someone’s home feel like Christmas all year through. If you are creative and willing to do something hands-on, you can design your own gift. One great idea is to make a succulent display. Find a cute pot or mug to put the succulents in and surround them with rocks or figurines. You could also frame a favorite photo or find an image of something they like online and turn it into a poster. A calendar is another good tool to have around the house. You can find one with a landscape or hobby that is of interest to the person you are giving it to.
You can make a donation to a cause you care about in someone’s honor for the holidays. Fayette Humane Society uses donations to bring awareness to pet overpopulation and improve the lives of the animals in their care. One of the most cherished gifts is the act of volunteering in the community. Anyone can make a difference. The Salvation Army has many holiday initiatives you can learn more about including the angel tree program, grocery and food assistance, bill-pay assistance and bell ringing.
Sometimes a simple greeting card that says Merry Christmas with a gift certificate or complimentary coupon enclosed for a service or entertainment of interest to the recipient will go a long way. Some creative ideas include pampering with a massage, facial or manicure and pedicure; satisfying your favorite craving at the local coffeehouse or pastry shop; or getting to explore a fun and educational museum.
For those who are on a tighter budget, remember that there are valuable gifts that do not cost anything other than a little bit of your time. You can create your own certificate or coupon booklet filled with gifts of service such as two hours of babysitting, a free car wash, a home-cooked meal delivered to your door, a manicured lawn or a newly improved and painted room in the house.
Winter is the perfect season to get creative and into the spirit of giving without breaking the bank. After all, some of the most thoughtful gifts that will be remembered for years to come can be purchased at a low to zero cost.