‘Tis the Season…for Gifts

by ckelly

Post by Contributing Writer, Rachael

Every year around this time I start feeling overwhelmed. Between October and January we have multiple birthdays, school holiday celebrations, church holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  (Just typing this makes me tense up!)

Gift-giving is part of this season for most of us. For me, I look at gift-giving and want it to be thoughtful and meaningful.  I also don’t want it to be the priority. The people and the meaning behind these occasions is so much more important than any money I might spend.

Gift giving can be done meaningfully and frugally!

What and how we gift can be a sweet reflection of who the recipient is and who we are.  Here are some thoughts and tips to help this gift giving season have a new meaning!

DIY: Do It Yourself Gifting

The Meaning: Taking the time to make a gift for someone is a sacrifice. Time and creativity are much harder to come by than a gift card or something online that can be shipped, especially for busy moms!  However, in creating a homemade gift you are showing the recipient that your time and energy is there for them, not only this holiday season but whenever they may need it in the future.

How & What: There are so many options for great homemade gifts!

If you are crafty, things like knitting, crocheting, handmade cards, and sewn items are great.  A friend made these crayon travel holders for my kids and we LOVE them!

For those that aren’t particularly crafty (like me!), there are great easy and frugal food gifts! Homemade Vanilla, Hot Chocolate Mix, Classic Cookie Tin or Cookie in a Jar.

These gifts are generally low cost but require your time and energy.  However, the end result is a sweet gift that often keeps on giving and a recipient who knows they are loved!

Buying Used: Thrifting and Gifting

The Meaning: Now that you are over the shock, not all thrifted gifts are in poor taste!  Thrifting for a gift takes two things: A) the right recipient B) time. Not everyone on your list may be open to receiving a used gift, but remember both new and used gifts can be found while thrifting!

Thrifiting for a gift doesn’t only take time but it also requires an intimate knowledge of your recipient and what they like and don’t like.  Giving a thoughtful thrifted item lets the recipient know that you know them and are thinking about them beyond just this season.

How & What: Start with some ideas.  Write down the names of the people you are thrifting for and their hobbies, favorite music or books and other things about them.  This will help you when you start to shop.  When you start thrifting make sure to look for items in new or very good condition. You do this by having time and being able to look carefully!

{Michele’s note: Many of our friends & family love to receive used, classic books or vintage linens/dishes!}

But what can you really get at a thrift store? Focus on your friends’ hobbies and favorites. I know someone who enjoys scrapbooking and has 2 girls. A thrift store recently had 2 brand-new-with-pages  Creative Memories scrapbooks for $0.99 each.  The page inserts alone are worth more than that!  For $2.00 + tax, I was able to give a gift that is worth more than $50 that I know this friend will enjoy for the whole next year to come.

by shimelle

If you have a friend who likes books, thrifting is a great place to start!  Many people read a book once and then never touch it again. Crafting supplies are another thing that thrift stores have in abundance. People often start a hobby, but find they don’t have time or they don’t enjoy it.  You can buy yardage, needles, and supply baskets in great condition for pennies on the dollar!

A thoughtful, meaningful gift from a thrift store might be just the encouraging thing a friend needs!

Gift Alternatives: Charity and Service

The Meaning: Giving to a charity, serving with a friend or offering service to a friend is both frugal and compassionate.  For some, physical gifts- while appreciated- aren’t necessarily the best kind.  I am a busy mom and live very simply. I am blessed to have what I do and don’t often need more things. 

However, I am passionate about giving to those in need, serving those in need and even accepting service when I am in need. Giving a gift of charity or service can speak beyond the season and resonate deeply with the heart of a friend or family member.

How & What: Know your options.

Giving a financial gift on behalf of someone may be as easy as going to an organization’s website.  Know the person you are giving to and find out where they give.  When you give a financial gift (regardless of size) on someone’s behalf, you can often share that in the form of a card, e-note or other tangible printed form from the organization.

Write a nice note and include the form when giving this kind of gift.  You can also give through an organization like http://www.kiva.org/ that allows your gift recipient to choose where the money goes.

by U.S. Army Alaska

Serving alongside someone or offering service is a time commitment but is usually free! If you have a friend that enjoys serving others offer to join them.  It may be a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter.  Wherever it is, make yourself available and let them know that you want to spend quality time with them and would like to serve with them.

Offering service is very similar.  Find out what your friend or family member needs and find a creative way to offer your time.  I am a busy mom of two with a 3rd on the way.  If someone handed me a card and said they wanted to give me 2 hours of free babysitting I would be beyond grateful!


Whatever and however you choose to give this holiday season remember, it truly is the thought that counts. Be thoughtful and frugal this season and let the blessings abound!

Rachael shares financial tips from her kitchen table surrounded by her two active  toddlers and  her husband.  God has called her from corporate life into His grace as an  at-home wife!  She  shares about her passion for motherhood and life at To Be a Mom…

If you have a financial question or topic you would like us to discuss  leave a  comment or send us an email!

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