Gift ideas that won’t break the bank

A gift can come from the heart and be well thought out – cost is not always an issue. Here are some ideas that can be low in cost and will still have meaning.

At one end of the spectrum, online shopping can save a lot of headaches, but on the other, consumers would rather go out in the elements of weather to personally choose gifts without having to pay the shipping and handling costs.

Gift certificates or cards from a loved one’s favorite store or restaurant are convenient and can start in increments of $5 and up. It makes it easier for the recipient to choose their own clothing, movies, CDs and the like.

The inner baker can whip up a batch of favorite holiday cookies, pies, cakes and/or candy to put in a decorative tin or box. Another unique idea is to layer the dry ingredients of a recipe, in a Mason jar (such as for chocolate chip cookies or brownies), wrap it up with a bow around the lid, attach an index card with the recipe and it’s good to go. Hot chocolate mix can also be made the same way.

For the artist at heart, photos, drawings and paintings can add a personal touch with a homemade decorated frame. Homemade scarves, sweaters or blankets can help take the winter chill away.

Gift baskets do not have to cost an arm and a leg to make. By visiting the local dollar store, one can come up with a unique arrangement in a basket that can add a nice touch. One idea is to add bath and body wash, hand lotion, body spray and a candle in their favorite scent. Themed baskets to tailor the individual give it more meaning.

If one likes to cook, putting together a nice meal to deliver to a good friend could be a nice surprise during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Even giving a cookbook with their favorite recipes that can be passed on for generations.

Animal lovers enjoy giving their pets gifts as well. A chew toy for a dog or a new catnip mouse for a cat can provide hours of entertainment and lots of laughs.

Board and card games are a fun way to provide entertainment for family and friends without breaking the bank. Another great gift idea is to put a box of microwave popcorn and a movie in a big bowl, and call it “Movie Night Madness.”

Whether a gift is homemade or is store bought, time that was spent thinking about the thought behind it means more than the cost, heavy traffic, time spent waiting in long lines or fighting over the last gift item on a store shelf.