As frugal-minded folks, we all want to give nice gifts this season, but would love to keep them affordable. I remember years ago tallying up my Christmas expenses at over $1,000 – and we didn’t even have kids! Since then I’ve kept a running list of cheap Christmas presents that don’t seem as cheap as they are.
P.S. – I’m not a crafty person and, therefore, have left off all homemade and handmade items. I know some of you make delicious treats, knit scarves and do all sorts of inexpensive crafty things, but I don’t. As a result, I’ve needed to figure out what I can buy ready-made that won’t break the bank.
Here are some of my favorite picks, but I’d love to hear from you. What do you give when you have a tight budget, but don’t want to come across as cheap?
These top the list of nice, but don’t-have-to-be-expensive gifts because there is a magazine to fit the interests of everyone under the sun. The recipient will have no idea whether you paid the full cover price or got the subscription for 80% off.
We track magazine prices for dozens of popular titles and let you know when we see really great deals. One of my favorites right now is Real Simple magazine for $1/issue via Magazines.com. O, The Oprah magazine is also $1/issue when ordered on auto-renew via Amazon. (You can log in to your Amazon account and cancel the auto-renewal at any time.)
The always popular All You magazine, which is chock full of coupons, is a great choice for a couponing friend or family member.
If you love coupons, you might have friends and family that love them as well. Giving coupons as a gift is a win-win since you can get deals on them, plus the recipient saves money on things they’d likely buy or do anyway.
Restaurant.com is my favorite for restaurant coupons. Gift cards to Restaurant.com’s website sell for half their face value. Spend $25 and give someone $50 in credit to use at Restaurant.com which they can then swap out for dining coupons to various restaurants nationwide. Know that the coupons your recipient will buy do require a minimum purchase at the restaurant, but even with that, I’ve found them to offer a great value.
There are two ways you can pass on the Groupon, or daily deal site, love. You can buy discounted products, services and dinners out from Groupon or other daily deal sites and give the item as a gift. You often save half of the retail price and can usually specify “buy as a gift” at checkout. When it’s noted to be a gift, then the printed certificate won’t list how much you paid.
You can also give a gift card to Groupon for any friends or family that are big coupon users.
I’d happily receive an Entertainment coupon book as a gift. In my area they retail for $35, but this time of year they offer promotion after promotion making them half-priced or better. We keep tabs on all the Entertainment Book sale prices including the current offer for $19.99 each, plus free shipping. A second copy of the book is an additional $15. You’ll spend $35 for two books, which is how much ONE book normally costs.
Some of you may have friends or family that want a product; magazine subscriptions and coupons might not quite cut it. To get products at deep discounts, I either shop clearance sections all year long and stack those deals with store or website coupons (which doesn’t exactly help you when we’re weeks from Christmas) or I pick up free-after-rebate or super-cheap-after-rebate items.
Around here we believe a great deal is 75% off or better. The one caveat is that certain products never go on sale that deeply, so we’ll inform you if we see a rock bottom price.
Menards and office supply stores like Office Max, Staples and Office Depot frequently offer rebates in the form of a store credit on high-quality merchandise. You have to be willing to front the cash now, then wait for the store credit (which can take up to a few months to get back, in some cases) and then be able to use that store credit on a future purchase.
A few current examples include:
Briefcases and Bags
This week at OfficeMax you’ll earn 100% back in MaxPerks Rewards (similar to a store credit, but it’s issued quarterly) when you buy a qualifying bag or briefcase.
Toys and Kid Accessories
Through 12/11 at Menards you can get the following deals:
45 Piece Grafix Puzzle (Ages 3+) $1.50 (Limit 4)
Final price: Free after rebate
Kids Waste Cans (makes sound effects, includes batteries) $14.99 (Limit 3)
Final price: $4.99 after rebate
Kids Lamp With Night Light (monkey or bear) $19.99 (Limit 2)
Final price: $4.99 after rebate
Right now Amazon has this Oral-B Professional Care 1000 Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush for $39.99, plus free shipping. Then submit for the $20 Oral-B mail-in rebate which will give you $20 cash back. That’s 73% off the $74.99 retail price.
It may be less than three weeks away from Christmas, but with a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, you can still find ways to give inexpensive gifts that don’t seem cheap.
Your turn: What other inexpensive gift ideas do you have? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts with other readers who may be in need of some fresh ideas.