With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about gift giving. Whether if you have a small or large family to shop for, it can be a stressful time and it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeves to make shopping easy and affordable. The first thing to determine is how many people in your family are you buying gifts for? I’m not talking about immediate family (spouses, children, parents, or siblings), but family outside of that. Some people choose to only shop for their immediate family if they have a large family to shop for.
On my side of the family, for example, we started doing a Pollyanna for the adults. The men would buy a male gift and the women would buy a female gift. The budget was $10.00 and if a person didn’t want to participate that was okay (although everyone did). Once budgets got even tighter, my family adopted the rule that the kids should always have gifts, but the adults were old enough to not need so many toys and gadgets. For this reason, my mom began to only give gifts to the children until they reached the age of 18.
Now that I am married, the size of my family has increased. My husband and I enjoy getting gifts for everyone, even if it’s something small. We buy special gifts for the immediate family and then get similar gifts for the aunts and uncles, and something small for the nieces, nephews, and cousins. Last year, we gave personalized ornaments and framed pictures of our son (6 months old at the time) to the parents, personalized ornaments for the siblings and godparents, small novelty gifts for our niece and nephew, gift cards for the cousins, and framed pictures for the aunts/uncles.
I receive the Better Homes and Garden magazines, and this month’s magazine had an article about gift giving on a budget. It was a nice article and did give a lot of ideas categorized by the type of gift it is (music lover, gardener, etc), but the gifts were still out of my budget. The prices for the gifts might be fine if there are only a few people on your shopping list, but when the gifts suggested range from $15 on up, it adds up quickly if you have a lot of people you’re buying for. Below are a few gift ideas that can be personalized for each person in the family and the budget can be adjusted up or down to fit your needs:
- 1. Alcohol: Chances are you’re going to have to hit up the liquor store at some point, so why not do some holiday shopping while you’re there? Find out what each person’s favorite liquor is and buy that if it’s within your budget. If your budget is smaller, get inexpensive bottles of wine for each family member. Barefoot’s Pink Moscato is under $10 each and I haven’t met a person yet that didn’t like that wine.
What you’ll need: Money and a liquor store
- 2. Personalized framed pictures: This is the gift we gave to the aunts and uncles last year. Back in the day, printing pictures at home meant that they were poor quality photos with horrible color and blurry pictures if (god forbid) you wanted to enlarge them. These days, cameras and printers produce high quality photos so printing at home is a breeze. I made collages using the printer software on my computer of different family members and each collage had pictures of them from our wedding. I bought frames at Target for under $10 each (8×10). If you have a higher budget per person, get nicer frames. If your budget is smaller, get frames at the Dollar Store or do 4×6 photos instead of 8×10. The only other cost is the photo paper. This is a personalized gift for each member of the family-they’re going to love the thought and time put into it.
What you’ll need: frames, photo paper, printer*
*If you don’t have a printer or it doesn’t print high quality pictures, you can have the pictures printed at a low cost from places such as Target and Walgreens. This is still low budget-I had a couple hundred of my wedding photos printed at Target (4×6) and it came out to about $50.00-granted that was 4 years ago, but I can’t imagine the price has gone up too much.
- 3. Customized cooking oils: For those with families that love to cook (like mine), this is a gift that can be fun and practical. I like to create my own garlic oil and lemon oil for everyday cooking. I thought to myself, hey, wouldn’t it be cool to make different oils for each cook in the family? The oils can be flavored to fit the cooking style of the person the gift is for. My husband’s step-mother is Thai so she would enjoy oil that’s infused with red pepper flakes and the rest of his family is Italian so basil and other herbs would be great to infuse. You can either buy small bottles of oil for each gift needed, or you will need to buy one large container of oil and get oil dispensers/jars to put the oil in once it’s infused. The quality of the oil you decide to buy will depend on your budget. Olive oil would be ideal, but if the budget doesn’t allow for it, don’t sweat it and get what’s practical. Pour the oil in a pan and add the desired herbs and/or spices. Cook on low until the oil heats up and you can smell the aromas coming from the pot. You want to make sure not to heat the oil for too long, or to heat it on high, or else the herbs/spices will burn and the oil will be bitter. Let the oil cool and then transfer it back into the original container (if buying individual jugs) or into a purchased oil dispenser/jar.
What you’ll need: olive oil (or oil of choice), fresh herbs and spices, oil dispensers/jars (if needed), construction paper or blank labels (to put on the container letting the person know what the oil is infused with-a suggested recipe would be nice too, or maybe a poem or limerick)