It’s that time of year when I begin to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gifts that I need to buy. We have three family birthdays this month including M’s which is obviously a big deal. On top of that M has four party invitations on the pinboard and then there’s a friend’s daughter to buy for early next month. And that’s just birthdays. Let’s not forget that the C-word is very much on the horizon and getting nearer. So, to launch Thrifty Thursdays, today’s post is all about how to give gifts without bankrupting yourself.
The present cupboard. This works particularly well when buying for kids. Basically, this is a stock pile of pressies which can be plundered as and when. The key is to build it up as you go and keep it fairly well stocked. In other words, if you’re shopping in the sales and you see a toy or whatever marked down in price, buy two or three of them for the present cupboard. The real bargains are to be had when buying out of season, so you have to plan in advance and it might seem like ages before you actually give some of the gifts, but the beauty of the present cupboard is that it spreads the cost and means that you don’t wind up in a last minute panic buying something over-priced and unsuitable.
Make it. If you’re a crafter then you’re probably already doing this, if not then now might be the time to hone a few basic skills and start making some stocking fillers. These could be anything from home-made jams and chutneys (there are loads of recipes online) to a hand knitted scarf (again, check online for beginners knitting tutorials). You can be as creative as you like and it’s always so lovely to receive something that someone else has pored over.
Offer a service. Do an evening’s babysitting so new parents can have a break or take a load of ironing and deal with it for someone. These are the ultimate thrifty gifts as they basically require expenditure of time instead of money. If you’re going to do this, try and tailor the service to the recipient so they get something really useful or enjoyable for them. No point in offering to mow someone’s lawn if they live in a block of flats. You can make little vouchers for these gifts too.
Put a spend limit on your present shopping. For kid’s parties, I’d say around £7 is plenty, but again, if you shop wisely then you could probably spend a lot less. This tip is best applied when buying for your own children or family members. It’s so easy to get carried away, just buying one more stocking filler or an extra pressie here and there. Set a limit for each person and stick to it.
Cards and wrapping. Bulk buying is the way forward here (see tip one) and again means that you’re never stuck without a card for someone. If you’re ultra organised, you can even start a card file and buy a load of cards then store under the appropriate month for someone’s birthday. Christmas wise, everyone knows that the best time to buy cheap cards and paper was in last year’s post-xmas sales. Too late for buying this year’s stash, but bear in mind for next time. As far as wrapping paper goes, from an eco-thrift point of view, the best thing is to recycle where possible. Failing that, buy large rolls or make your own.
Right, well that was my first thrifty post – I hope you like it. Come back next Thursday for another one! In the meantime, I’ll tweet any newly discovered bargains on the high street or online, so look out for me on Twitter (@living_itlittle).