The time is fast approaching when we will be scouring storefronts and some folks will go online to look for the perfect gifts for family and friends. And for those on a budget, be it necessary or simply a self-imposed frugality, gift-giving can pose a problem in terms of available resources. My first rule of holiday shopping is to do so with cash—not credit. Going into debt to purchase gifts doesn’t help anyone but the banks. So, where do you start?
Easy for both those shoppers who are finally seeing the light and cutting back or, for those who aren’t in a position to part with much, the local consignment shop in your community is a ‘must’. No matter what type of community you reside in, if you have a consignment store, you have access to something that will make a great gift for someone, even if you don’t stumble across it yourself. It’s still worth a regular look. Ladies with fast-fashion sense frequently turn over their still recent, stylish goods for a few bucks so they can move on to the next fad. Connoisseurs of home décor collectables will trade last year’s home party must-have for the funds to buy the latest holiday decoration. People who engage in regular hobbies—from horse riding to photography—will consign used related items for a quick down payment on the updated equipment they are saving for. So, don’t sell consignment shops short. There are a lot of really nice gifts within their walls that might make one of your family members or friends ecstatic.
A great place to find beautiful and much appreciated gifts after the consignment shop is
your local antique mall or flea market. If you have a collector on your list, finding a suitable gift can be both fun and financially feasible. A few of my favorite collectible for my rare groundhog collection have been found at second-hand markets and I cherish those trinkets more than most of my other possessions. You just might surprise your own passionate collector with a rare find that he or she will keep close for a lifetime. Antique stores don’t only offer pricey pieces such as furniture or rare china, you can also find affordable antique toys, crystal, even fine jewelry that won’t break your budget. Finding the unexpected makes browsing these locations fun, whether or not you make a purchase.
Another great way to give is to consider your own possessions. Yep. ‘Shop your own closet’ so to speak. Does your sister compliment your cashmere sweater every time you wear it? Give it to her. Does the watercolor you in your dining room catch the eye of your cousin every time he visits? It’s his. If something doesn’t have a great sentimental value to you and you think you can live life without it, give serious consideration to passing it along. The financial value doesn’t matter. If the recipient really likes the item, it will
mean more than any new gizmo or gadget you could ever buy at a store. And perhaps your thoughtfulness will inspire them to make someone else’s holiday special by sharing a gift of their own. One of my greatest joys is sharing books. As an avid reader I purchase so many and even when I get them off the discount table, I know they are more than a lot of my reader friends can afford. And why keep books sitting around unless I really think I’ll read or refer to them again? I have several family members and friends who read as avidly as I do and I send my books to them as soon as I have enough to fill a box. Even if I have to mail them, shipping becomes the most expensive part of the gift and that’s a bargain.
While lots of folks give up and give in to the gift card strategy, there is one more thing I’d like to receive in lieu of the plastic cash and that is a gift donation to a charity I adore. Everyone who knows me knows they can make a donation to an equestrian charity, my local
dog shelter or greyhound rescue, or the local food pantry in my name and I’m just as happy as if I’d opened a paper wrapped present. I am mindful of the needs of others in my community through my simple practice of gratitude and I get great joy from giving. Even a dollar to a legitimate charity can make a difference. And most charities don’t disclose the amount you donate in someone’s name, they simply send a ‘thank you’.
Don’t think your time counts as a gift? Guess again. Your great aunt Jennie might like nothing more than for you to offer to cook her dinner or show up at her door with a fresh bouquet, then to sit down and reminisce over old family photos. Offering to spend an evening with your grandmother or your elderly neighbor who dog sits so you can
address her Christmas cards may be more valuable than you know. Take a small box of candy and brew the coffee and make an afternoon of it. If you have children or grandchildren in their ‘teenage years’ where their time is their most prized possession, have them offer to stop by a loved one’s house for a movie day complete with cocoa and popcorn. Better yet, send them on a yard work expedition for a day. Time is a gift that is always in short supply and shouldn’t be undersold.
If all else fails, and for those in your life that you want to acknowledge with a thoughtful gift of appreciation, remember that you needn’t break out your VISA to buy a meaningful gift. My family absolutely loves Christmas and a new ornament for the tree will provide memories for years to come. My pen-pal loves that I send her a book of p
retty stamps. My sister enjoys getting craft items that she can use in her many sewing pursuits, like a supply of beautiful buttons. If you really think about the person you are buying for, you can find reasonably priced yet still very meaningful new gifts.
Your gift is always appreciated when it’s beautifully wrapped but don’t sell short a gift that doesn’t come with a bow. It’s the meaning between you and the recipient that will surely please. Give it with all your heart and it will make a memory to last forever.
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