Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Expansion of Practical Gift Giving

This gift was seen on frugal-living-now.com   It uses tissue paper as a base and a newspaper comic as an accent covering and then lots of matching ribbon.  The wrap is inexpensive, but very smart and attractive.

  One of the things I like about blogging is that it never ceases to amaze me, that some of the blog posts I think are best, don't see a lot of traffic in the weeks and months following their posting.  However, some of the blog posts which I thought might be casually interesting consistently draw traffic from all over the world, sometimes for years afterward.  It isn't easy to predict which posts will become worldwide favorites, and which posts will simply get some traffic for a day or two after they were written.  A few "catch fire" some time after they were actually written and posted.   One of these subjects which has consistently drawn worldwide followers is my post on practical gift giving.  Each year, even in a tough economy people receive things that don't fit, aren't suitable, or are of too personal a nature to be useful to the intended victim, or shall I say, giftee.   It can be hard to select a gift within a week or a couple of days for someone you don't know well, or even sometimes for those you do.  Other factors can make gift giving even more difficult.  At Christmas time, for example, I like to give gifts people can eat, but several of those people are diabetic.  Giving a box of good chocolates, something I might very much like to receive myself, simply underscores something my friend or neighbor may not have at all !   My daughter have several friends from college who live in very small spaces. Giving them a gift that is not very space efficient is going to ensure that the gift is given away or donated.   Gift giving is quite a difficulty, for women, and especially for many men.   With this in mind, I am expanding upon some ideas I introduced in a prior post written some time ago regarding practical gift giving.

Inexpensive packaging as shown on 33shadesofgreen.com

             One of the first things I would like to suggest, is gift wrap.  Rather than buying gift wrap each time you must give a gift, and paying three to four times the amount it should cost, go to a Dollar Store, or English Pound Shop, as you likely have one nearby.  Select some lovely generic gift wrap which will be suitable for many occasions. Sometimes the best is in rolls, and other times, there are packages of multicolored tissue papers which are folded flat.  Pick up a roll of cellophane tape,  and some inexpensive scissors and some ribbon which matches your one or two rolls of different all occasion gift wrap.  I place these in a large clear freezer bag that says "Generic Gift Wrap Kit".   This means that I can have a gift ready without leaving the house.    One of my sons uses a roll of brown paper wrapping for all the gifts he gives and uses nice yarns as the ribbon on them.  They look fantastic !   Many men would do quite well to do this too.  Check out the price of a roll of brown paper, and some lovely yarn at a Dollar Store, and this too is very inexpensive.
             For Christmas I do exactly the same thing, only with more rolls of paper, and I place them in a Christmas Wrap Gift box.  For added savings you might want to assemble a Christmas wrap kit after Christmas, when the items are 50-75% off.   This week I actually bought some Hannukah wrap and Hannukah cards for some of our Jewish friends. These were 90% off  at this time of year.

This yarn was glued to paper for a really innovative design.  www.babble.com

             The next plan I have is that I keep a "gift box" in the attic at home.  When I see something at a really excellent price deeply discounted at a department store, and it's really nice, I pick it up for The Gift Box.
My gift box was cleaned out in the past year when my daughter bought a home, and also as her friends begin to buy homes, to marry or to have babies.   Some of the things that were in it were:   A lovely set of bone china English mugs, a gorgeous English teapot, an exquisite set of stainless steel measuring cups in a gorgeous box, a very nice set of measuring spoons and the accompanying rack,  copies of the books I have written,  a gift selection of different teas, a gift selection of different coffees,  a small but good Metric and SAE tool kit, a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with attachments,  a good make of three saucepans nestled together, etc.
To find a place in my gift box of incidental gifts, the gift has to be something I would like to receive myself. It has to have been well priced or deeply discounted, and in a perfect box.   There need to be things that can be given to men, women, and to children.    Of course, depending upon where you live, or who your friends are, what is in your gift box could be different from mine.   My builder, for example, would probably enjoy a bottle of wine and a good measuring tape to help to compensate for the ones he occasionally leaves at job sites.  Giving him measuring cups might not be the right choice.  Most places around the world have something excellent and unusual that the rest of the world does not have. Spend a little time thinking about what your neck of the woods offers. I have a friend in Canada who gives maple syrup she buys in bottles to people.  It costs a fortune in the American South, and is a great gift.  Think about what types of things you have where you are.

          Rather than buying a card each time I need to send one, I bought a box of nice cards.  Some of them are blank for a personal message, others are birthday cards, condolence cards, get well cards etc.   A lovely card with a few kind words doesn't have to cost three or four dollars.   Remembering the person with a card is what counts.  My entire box of really exquisite cards cost five dollars on sale.  Many of the cards I bought as well as some of the gifts have come from an American discount store called Tuesday Morning, where department store items and particularly nice gifts, glassware, clothing, luggage, computer accessories, furniture, rugs, toys, bed linens, towels, storage, photo albums and frames, and excellent cards are sold.  You can explore the best values where you are.

          Sometimes, it may occur to you that a certain person would like a certain gift.  I keep a folder in which I have a sheet which lists names and a gift idea for someone.   I can't possibly recall all the times through the year when it occurs to me that someone in my family might like something.  I have to write it all down !
My folder might have a sheet in it which might look like this.

my daughter                           Six black towels and matching washcloths    (for her guest bathroom)

my husband                           Small portable Air Compressor from Home Depot

friend Sally                             Set of blue and white China, as she admired mine.

        My notebook also contains  a few small catalogs.   The Emergency Essentials catalog which you can get by going to www.beprepared.com has some wonderful and inexpensive things which can be terrific gifts.  I have given the sprout starter set with seeds several times.  It's an inexpensive, educational, and practical gift. Who wouldn't want to grow sprouts easily and quickly on the kitchen window in a jar for salads and sandwiches, especially if you are thinking about health and preparedness ?

         Since my business is preparedness, I am not afraid to give a gift which directly reflects this.  I certainly don't mind if you give a preparedness oriented gift !  I hold no copyright on the practice !   When you need to select a gift for a man, a set of nice LED flashlights can be a good one.   A person or couple setting up a house might need a NOAA radio.   A close friend or adult child might benefit from a starter sprout kit with a variety of seeds.  Keep another sheet in your folder with great and inexpensive gifts listed, so that when you do need one, you have some ideas in advance.

          One of my sons always makes his gifts for everyone.  Of course, the things he makes are quite wonderful, and I am not half that artistically talented.  However, many people are more talented than I.   I have a friend who graduated from the Cordon Bleu and everything she makes from her jams to her chicken salad are exquisite.  If you are a good cook, then make some extra jams, package them attractively, get some personalized labels and give those as gifts.   If you paint well, then make small paintings, well in advance to give as gifts.  My father-in-law was a fine woodcrafter.  He used to make wooden calendars with multiple pieces for the dates, holidays, etc.  His calendar is a prized possession for us along with a beautiful walnut paper towel holder he made for us.  Consider what your talents are, make something and then package them well, perhaps with a customized tag.   I do make wreaths for front doors, of many different types, and I have given a few of them as gifts in the past also.

            Books are almost always a wonderful gift.   www.half.com is a wonderful source of books at very reasonable prices.  A rare book or one that is out of print can be given as a gift even if used.  Inscribing the inside with kind words explaining why you selected such a book for them is also a lovely personalization.

          If you need to give a gift to a child, then consider the internet.  Some amazing toys can be found on many sites, very inexpensively, and it can be sent in very little time. I once bought one of my sons the entire set of a Lego pirate ship for much less money than it was in the stores.  There are some excellent internet buys on dolls, legos, building toys and lots of the components for the Thomas the Tank Engine Train Set.

Tuesday Morning has great merchandise which is deeply discounted from the original department store price. Then, they run specials on those prices also. This is a great place to get wedding presents.  Find out where the best places to buy reasonably priced gifts are, in your area. www.tuesdaymorning.com

Harbor Freight could probably best be described as a "toy store for men". No matter what your hobby, your interests, there will be something you need in this store. There are small tools, small electronic items, solar lighting, security systems, large tools, etc. You can check out www.harborfreight.com

            Money is too hard earned for everyone, to simply grab a gift when you are hastily trying to get something for a birthday, a friend retiring, or a Christmas present.  Gifts should be attractive, but also utilitarian.  I hope this post has given you some ideas to contemplate.  Paying too much for the wrong gift is a waste of money in times when wasting money is foolish.  Lets see if in the next year we can give great gifts that we acquired economically.

This is my original post on practical giftgiving:


This is my cat Tosh, who eventually fell asleep as he waited for me to finish writing for this blog.


BBC said...

I seldom do gifts anymore and when I do I just wrap it with old newspaper, preferably the comics pages.

JaneofVirginia said...

Comic pages are a great gift wrap. We should all be saving them for that exact use.

Kristin said...

I love orange kitties!

JaneofVirginia said...

Tosh is a particularly spoiled-from-kittenhood cat who is very bright and directs a good deal that goes on here. The night that someone tried to get into the house through the front door, he stood at the door growling, and sounded like a dog ! We have lots of dogs but oddly Tosh comes when he is called, is very cuddly and is quite loyal.

Linda said...

I bought $12 worth of cards that were less than 10 cents each, some in boxes. I buy cards and envelopes from yard sales. They cannot smell musty. Christmas paper has to be 90% off or a quarter from a yard sale.

Last Christmas, I gave my grandson, his girlfriend, my gdaughter, and daughter stainless steel water bottles, with a little led flashlight inside along with a bag of assorted candies. No one complained. I also gave a family gift of emergency lighting, several kinds and sizes. Of course, grandson got underwear and g-daughter got something to wear, forgot what.

I, too, keep a gift box for all sorts of gift giving occasions. Right now, I am collecting for the shoeboxes that are filled for Christmas, along with nice but cheaply priced sale items.

When candy dishes are so cheap after Christmas at nice stores, I buy four of those, one for me and one for each of my three children, but not every year. I have those for the next Christmas.

Once when I was in grad school, I had a birthday party to attend where three friends were celebrating birthdays. I bought, cleaned, and gutted three gourds and made gourd birdhouses, put them in identical boxes, and wrapped them in solid green Christmas wrap and tied them with pinky/purple curling ribbon, Christmas, too. Then, I got a sprig of live crape myrtle and slipped it under the curly ribbon. The gifts were a hit before they were opened.

Solid colors of paper, ribbon, and tissue paper bought after any holiday can be combined to not look like the holiday.

My grandson is graduating from hs this month. I bought the card I will give him about ten years ago for less than a nickel. I always gave a card to my GED students when they got their GED diploma. Wholesale prices were prohibitive, so when I saw the grad card clearance, I bought it all.

Yard sales are full of gift bags, too, usually for less than fifty cents. My daughter always uses gift bags, so I just send her a load every few months in a flat rate box with other things. She does buy ones from the Dollar Tree, and reuses all that are given to them.

I never go the newspaper or comic route because I get all black and ruin gifts and my clothing, and myself with the newsprint.

Hallmark will hate us.

bizzy bitz said...

There is no doubt that giving gifts has become an important part of our lives. Whether it is birthday, Christmas, Father's Day, or any other occasion, people typically give gifts to memorialize the occasion. Nice blog with nice information.

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