If you’re living on a budget, giving great gifts might feel like it’s beyond your means. But anyone can give great gifts – and you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Gift-giving is a skill, and that means it can be learned. With a little advance planning and some creativity, you can give gifts that will be cherished, even if you’re completely broke.
Fortunately, most occasions that demand gifts happen on a predictable schedule. Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all come at the same time every year. You’ll usually have plenty of advance warning about graduations, weddings, births, and other occasions, too.
Planning ahead to give great gifts can mean making some space in your budget to put aside money for gifts. When it’s time to actually give gifts, you’ll be able to make purchasing decisions based on how much you have in your gift fund.
Of course, you can also plan ahead by keeping your eyes peeled for affordable items that the people in your life would like as gifts. Browse flea markets, antique shops, and secondhand stores for possible gifts for the people in your life; even if the gift-giving occasion is a long way off, it can be worth it to pick up something for a good price and hang on to it until it’s time to give it to the recipient.
Use Your Skills
Crafty people will know that buying the supplies to make a gift can be much more expensive than just buying a pre-made version of the gift. But, while crocheting your aunt a queen-sized blanket may be too cost prohibitive, perhaps you already own enough craft supplies to make a small gift.
Or, perhaps you’re not crafty at all. You can still use your skills to offer a thoughtful gift. Some skill-based gifts that might be appreciated include:
- Help writing resumes or cover letters
- Tax help
- Translating or foreign language lessons
- Instrument or voice lessons
- Musical entertainment for an event
- Hair, makeup, or nails for a party or other event
- Budgeting and personal finance help
- Cooking lessons
- Computer repair
- Clothing alterations or mending
If you’re really broke, you could offer your services as a gift via text or email to the recipient (if you’re offering your services to multiple people, such as for Christmas gifts, write individual messages to each recipient). If you have a little money and want to get fancy, use some nice stationery to write a personalized letter to your recipient, offering your services as a gift.
If you have skills in multiple areas, you might offer your intended recipient the opportunity to choose from among a list of options. Just remember that some recipients may not want or need your services, but if your recipient takes you up on your offer, you must follow through. If you’re not going to follow through, it’s better to not even offer.
Get in the Kitchen
Who doesn’t love some homemade candy, fresh-baked cookies, or a delicious meal they didn’t have to prepare themselves? If you’re a good cook, whip up something tasty, or offer to come over and cook a meal for your recipient. Food gifts are especially good for the holiday season, when wrapped boxes of homemade cookies and candy, potluck dinner parties, and personalized goody baskets or retro sweet hampers can make giving lots of gifts much more affordable.
Give Your Time
Even if you don’t have specialized skills to offer, you can still give your time. What does that mean? Offer to help with housework, yard work, child care, pet sitting, shopping, or something else that takes time but doesn’t require a high level of technical skill. A weekend or even just a night away from the kids can be the perfect gift for a busy married couple, as can an offer to do some deep cleaning, detail a car, help fix a leaky faucet or re-hang a broken shelf. Some options, such as dog-walking, pet-sitting, and child care, can be expensive to buy, and therefore are often appreciated as gifts.
There’s no reason why a lack of money should stop you from giving great gifts for birthdays, holidays, and other occasions. With the right approach, you can easily earn a reputation as someone who gives thoughtful gifts every time.