Grill Gifts for Dad

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Father’s Day happens to perfectly coincide with grilling season.  What dad doesn’t love grilled meat? If you’re still looking for a Father’s Day gift (or aren’t sure what to make for dinner!), mix up some of these grill rubs.  For dads, just package it up, maybe add a gourmet sauce or some new grill tools and you have a gift he’s sure to love.

“Hugh’s Dry Rub Recipe” (from here):

  • 1 Tbsp & 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp and 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. and 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme

BBQ Spice Rub (from here):

  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • < 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Italian Rub Recipe:

  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dry basil
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt (sea salt or kosher salt are best)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
For best results, apply each rub to meat 20 minutes before cooking.
For more ideas, you can also check out my list of great gifts for dads on a bare-bones budget.

Unbaked Cookies

unbaked cookies

These chocolate-oatmeal unbaked cookies are a must-have part of Christmas for me. I used to make them with my mom and sister every year and I’m pretty sure the recipe was originally my great-grandma’s.  So, even though I wasn’t feeling as much like baking as I’d planned, I made sure to make these cookies this week.

These are a great recipe to make with kids – Beach Girl was able to help with every step of the process. (Beach Baby just grabbed handfuls mouthfuls of dough at every opportunity.) I will warn you, though, rolling them is messy. It took quite a few deep breaths on my part as cookie dough covered our dining room table, chairs, and floor, but I’m so glad we did it and Beach Girl had a blast.

unbaked cookies

Here’s the recipe:

Unbaked Cookies

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 6 cups quick oats
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • Powdered sugar
Combine sugar, milk, cocoa powder, and butter in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
Add 6 cups of quick oats and stir.
Allow to cool several hours. Then, add 1 Tablespoon vanilla.
Roll into balls and cover with powdered sugar.

One of my favorite things about these cookies is that they actually get better with time. They’re pretty good the day you make them, but the next day, they are out of this world. Perfect for a gift or to bring to a Christmas party!

Last year, Beach Dad took them to work and everyone thought he’d gotten them at a bakery. This year, his coworkers aren’t so lucky; he said he wanted to keep them all for himself haha!

What is your must-have Christmas food? Oddly enough, I think our family’s traditional foods are turning out to be crockpot BBQ chicken for Christmas Eve dinner and homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

Gifts for Everyone Else

frugal gifts

In addition to bigger gifts, there are also all those little gifts for coworkers, neighbors, pastors, hostesses, and teachers. While I love to give these gifts, if I’m not careful, my overall spending on smaller gifts can really add up! With that in mind, here are my ideas for giving all those little gifts on a bare-bones budget:

DIY disguises – I’m thinking of making this fun kit from Life Your Way for a few gifts this year. It seems like a gift that someone with kids or a goofy sense of humor could have a lot of fun with.

DIY gifts

Homemade sugar scrub -You probably even have all the ingredients on hand already!

Coffee/Ice cream gift card – A little goes a long way at an ice cream shop or coffee shop.

Mug – Anthropologie’s monogrammed mugs are super cute (simple ones for $6 or floral ones for $8), but you can often find nice ones elsewhere too. My friend Hannah who works at anthropologie told me people often buy these as teacher gifts and they’re hardly ever returned.

Stationery – Make your own (you can check out my cards board on Pinterest for inspiration!) or check out a discount store like TJ Maxx.

Jarred mixes – You could give cocoa mix in a jar or cookie mix in a jar.

Magazine subscription – I posted about quite a few magazine subscriptions on my lists of frugal gifts for moms and dads, but some are budget-friendly enough to fall under this “little” gifts category – Better Homes and Gardens ($6) and Popular Science (only $5 now through Christmas!).

S’mores Kit – This idea came to me last night as we roasted marshmallows over a fire pit at our local Christmas lights festival. Package up a chocolate bar, marshmallows, and some graham crackers to give your recipients (& their families) a fun night.

Bouquet of flowers or a plant

Candles – Any candles would be nice, but these stamped ones are a fun way to transform plain (aka cheap) candles into something unique. I’ve had this pinned for almost a year, but just realized it’s a dead link :(. The picture does a good job telling how to do it, though!

diy gifts

Magnetic board – I made this DIY magnetic message board for $1.

Gourmet food – This year, we got my girls’ preschool teachers assorted Christmas snacks from Trader Joe’s. They ranged from $2-$5 each – my favorites included dark chocolate covered candy cane Joe-Joe’s (which are TJ’s version of Oreos) and dark chocolate shortbread stars.

Popcorn and a movie – Older movies are often available for just a few dollars in bargain bins at places like TJ Maxx or even at Target. You could package up a classic with a bag of popcorn for a fun movie night.

freeset global

Bracelets that set women free – I just read (on Oh Amanda) about Freeset — an awesome business with the goal to set women free from human trafficking. Freeset sells fair trade bracelets, bags, and t-shirts, all made by women in Kolkata, India who have been set free from human trafficking. If you purchase a set of 3 bracelets (made from recycled saris) for $12, you’ll also be helping support this awesome cause. (While you’re there, they have cute bags too!)

Paper plates – This is probably a better hostess gift than for a coworker and my husband thinks I’m crazy for including it, but seriously – Who can’t use more of these, especially during this busy month? If you give me paper plates, I’ll be cool with it (but Beach Dad might not be…)

Homemade goodies – This is my favorite gift to give friends. I seriously love baking and enjoy making a few different types of cookies to give to friends and neighbors. Actually, this will be fun – I’m going to make mine over the next week or so, so I’m going to declare next week “Dessert Week.” Unfortunately, I can’t share my treats with most of y’all in person, but I’ll post a bunch of dessert recipes next week in case you want to bake too. I’ll start with the most make-ahead friendly recipes (some can even be frozen!), so if you want to bake along, by the end of the week, you’ll also have a fun dessert plate ready to hand out. My plan is to make:

  • double chocolate magic bars
  • unbaked chocolate-oatmeal cookies
  • peanut butter fudge
  • mint brownies
  • sugar cookies (or maybe bars, we’ll see how things are going…)

Yum. If you have any favorite holiday treat recipes, I’d love for you to link them up here!

What other gifts for “everyone else” have you given/received? Would you like getting paper plates?

Please check out my other ideas for Giving Great Gifts on A Bare-Bones Budget and subscribe to stay up to date on my latest posts.

[This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them, you’ll be helping to support Thanks!]

I’m linking to: Life as MomFive Days Five WaysShabby Nest, Fingerprints on the Fridge, and At the Picket Fence.

Give Great Gifts to Couples

budget gifts, christmas giftsIt can be easy for me and Beach Dad to neglect our most important relationship – our marriage – as we meet the needs of the little people around us. Some of our favorite gifts have been gifts that have encouraged us to enjoy shared experiences and to take time for each other. We also love to give these gifts to the couples we know and hope these gifts will encourage and bless their marriages. You might consider these gifts for married siblings, grandparents, friends, or pastors.

Some of our favorite budget-friendly gifts for couples include:

Tips to Romance Your Husband or Tips to Romance Your Husband – We got these little books ($5.99 each) at a Weekend to Remember marriage conference a few years ago and they’re each filled with creative ways to show love to your spouse. A set of both could be a fun gift.

Coffee Dates for Couples – This book (also $5.99) is also from the Weekend to Remember and has ideas for conversation starters and date ideas. We’ve given it with a gift card to a coffee shop and our friends loved it!

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller – I just started this book and it’s awesome. I’ve heard many people say it’s the best book on marriage ever and, so far, I’d agree. It’s $16.34 for the hardcover version or $12.99 for the Kindle.

Gift card for meal/treat place – Whether it’s a fancy dinner out or just a trip to an ice cream shop, the chance to go on a date on someone else’s dime is always a special treat! Before we had our own kids, we gave our friends who usually paid me to babysit a free night of babysitting along with their gift card.

Marriage on the Rock – This book is awesome. It’s not well-known, but I read it over four years ago and absolutely loved it. I’ve reread it many times since and our marriage has been really blessed by it. After outlining God’s vision for marriage based off of Genesis 2 and Ephesians 5, author Jimmy Evans walks you through the most potentially difficult parts of marriage – finances, sex, communication, in-law relations, and parenting – with practical tips for honoring God and your spouse in each of those areas. You can get the Kindle edition for $10 or a hard copy used from Amazon for less.

Board game – Beach Dad and I love to play board games. They’re our most popular choice for an at-home date night and some of our best friendships have formed while playing board games around the dining room table. These are a bit more than my $20 budget (usually $25-40), but we get them for 2 people and, for us, the “cost per use” price is really low. We love Settlers of Catan but it’s not as good for 2 players. Ticket To RideSmall World, and Carcassonne are similar to Settlers but work great with only 2 players (or more, if you have company).

Brian Regan hilarity – Brian Regan is my favorite comedian and I’ve gotten my entire family hooked on him. If you haven’t heard him before, you have to find some of his stuff on YouTube. He’s hilarious and clean. A few years ago, Beach Dad and I had the chance to see Brian Regan perform live, which was awesome, but his CDs and DVDs are almost as good (and much less expensive!). Our favorites include his Brian Regan Live CD or MP3 ($16.78/$8.99) and Standing Up (DVD) ($11.44). By the way, his The Epitome of Hyperbole video is free over Amazon instant video if you have Amazon Prime.

Passes to An “Experience” – You could gift them with passes to go rock climbing, mini-golfing, or bowling together. Beach Dad and I went bowling a few weeks ago and we had so much fun being goofy and reconnecting as we got gutter-ball after gutter-ball!

Something for A Common Interest – The chance to pursue a hobby together is an invaluable gift for a couple. If the couple on your list loves to camp or hike, you could get them a tent or whatever else it is people who camp like. (I’m obviously not a camper.)  But Beach Dad and I just got a very generous gift card to Lowe’s from my brother- and sister-in-law and we’re psyched. Building furniture and other DIY projects are some of our favorite shared hobbies, so we can’t wait to shop Lowe’s once we move into our new house.

Night away at a hotel – This is obviously more expensive, but an extra-fun gift for parents!  I often see good deals on Living Social or Groupon.

Christmas Memories Book – We received this as a wedding gift and it’s a fun way to remember Christmases year after year. It includes space to write about Christmas visits/visitors, special gifts, meals, “what we want to remember,” and – my favorite – a family Christmas photo. The book has room for 20 years of Christmases and it’s already fun to look back and see how our family has grown and how each Christmas celebration has been unique and special. I made a homemade version as a gift and the homemade touch was fun but, honestly, after all the supplies and hours it took me to make the gift, next time I’d just buy the same book we have. (Ha! If you buy directly from Amazon, the book is $500, but if you buy a like-new version through one of their third-party sellers, it’s only $19.99… I’d go that route.)

Anniversary Memories Book – Similar to the Christmas Memories book, this would be a fun way to keep records. Our anniversary is right near Christmas, so we write about our anniversary celebration in the Christmas book and I can’t recommend a specific book for anniversaries, but if you know of a good one, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Date Night at Home Gift Basket – This could be a movie pack with popcorn; a bottle of nice wine and chocolates; or a game night pack with a board game and some beer & fun snacks for while playing a board game.

Fondue Dates A fondue pot costs more than my normal gift-giving budget, but fondue date night is one of our favorite at-home date night ideas. The pot costs about as much as one dinner at the Melting Pot restaurant would, so this makes a great gift if your budget is a bit bigger than mine. You could also include my recipes for cheese fondue and meat fondue or this Fondue and Hot Dips cookbook ($8.95).

frugal gifts“I Love You Because…” Frame – We made this picture frame at MOPS a few weeks ago and I’ve loved writing (and reading) sweet messages to/from Beach Dad. Simply design (or find) something that says “I love you because…”, print it out and cut it to size. Stick it in a 5×7 picture frame and use velcro to attach a dry erase marker on top. (I’m sorry I don’t have a link for our cute design. They already had it printed out for us at MOPS and I can’t find it anywhere. I’m not sure if my MOPS craft  coordinator designed it herself or found it online. I know there are a lot of frames like this all over Pinterest, though.)

[I’ve included prices for some of these items, but they’re subject to change. If you purchase through my Amazon affiliate links, you’ll be helping to support Thanks!]

Have you ever received a gift that truly blessed your marriage? Any other ideas for gifts couples would love? Please share in the comments!

Please be sure to check out other posts in my Give Great Gifts on a Bare-Bones Budget series (including gifts for moms, teenage/twenty-something guys, and active kids), or subscribe to stay up to date.

I’ve linked to: Life as MomFive Days Five WaysShabby NestNaptime CraftersAt the Picket Fence, I Heart Naptime, and Homemade Ginger.

Fall Pinterest Challenge: Magnetic Message Board

craft ideas, a homemade gift

Last week, Young House Love announced their Fall Pinterest Challenge and I was excited to get crafting! Last Pinterest Challenge, I made this kindle case.  This time around, I wanted to make something that I could use as a budget-friendly gift and that would be super easy to craft (no tricky button holes this time!).  I decided to make a magnetic message board like this one from Cinnaberry Suite because I bought the cookie sheet a few months ago and just hadn’t gotten around to doing anything with it.

This craft was, indeed, super easy and, since I already had mod podge, paint, sandpaper, and scrapbook paper on hand, I only spent $1 on the cookie sheet (Gotta love the Dollar Tree!).  I think I actually worked on it for about an hour, plus some time waiting between coats for the paint and mod podge to dry.  Doesn’t get much easier than that.

After much deliberation, I decided to use fun bird-themed paper… and to keep it for myself, haha. I realized I’d be ruining someone’s surprise if I made their gift and posted it on my blog!

I didn’t want to have to mess with multiple layers of paper so chose one that looked interesting on its own.  And, since I didn’t want the message board to look completely like a cookie sheet, I decided to paint it before mod podging on the paper.

craft ideas, a homemade gift

I sanded the entire surface of the cookie sheet to rough it up a bit in hopes that the paint would stick better.craft ideas, a homemade gift

Usually, I tend toward more neutral/traditional colors in decorating, but I’ve been wanting to branch out into bolder colors, so figured this little message board would be a good opportunity. I mixed up green, blue, and white acrylic paints (because that’s what I had on hand) until the color matched one of the tones from the bird paper.

Next, I painted anywhere on the front of the cookie sheet that wouldn’t be covered by paper and let it dry overnight.

craft ideas, a homemade gift

The next night, I went to mod podge the paper. I just cut the paper to size, leaving a little border between the paper and the rim of the cookie sheet (the cookie sheet is taller than the 12″ piece of paper). I put the mod podge on the back of the paper and very, very carefully laid it on the cookie sheet, making sure to smooth out any bubbles. Then, I let it dry for a little bit before spreading a layer of mod podge on top of the paper and around the lip of the cookie sheet.

I did a few layers of mod podge, letting it dry a little between each layer, and then left it to dry for awhile.

As it dried, it looked absolutely terrible. It seemed like the mod podge was drying white over the paint and somehow, bumps appeared in the paper all over the place. I was thinking I’d have to trash my project and post about my total failure of a Pinterest challenge. But, somehow, the next morning, the paper looked perfectly flat and the mod podge dried clear, even on the paint. Woohoo! So, if you’re doing this project and it looks awful, take heart – it still might turn out okay!

craft ideas, a homemade gift

I’m pretty excited about how this turned out! I feel like I still see a cookie sheet when I look at it, but the colors are bright and fun, and hopefully I’ll get over it’s cookie sheet shape once it’s all set up in my kitchen.

You could drill holes in the top before you paint and then hang it by a ribbon (like this one), but I had an extra plate stand on hand, so am just using that. I’m going to use the leftover paper to make little coordinating magnets, but ran out of time for now.

craft ideas, a homemade gift

Mod podge is officially my favorite craft supply. There are so many fun things to do with it! What’s your favorite mod podge project? Tried anything on Pinterest lately? I’d love some more inspiration!

I’m thinking I’ll make another couple as Christmas gifts and you’ll be sure to see this gift idea in my “Give Great Gifts on A Barebones Budget” series soon!

To check out some other Pinterest-inspired fun, you can visit: Young House Love, Bower Power, Our Fifth House, and Ugly Duckling House. I’m also linking up to Homemade Ginger, Life as Mom, Feature Yourself Friday, At the Picket Fence, and Sundae Scoop.

Give Great Gifts to A Crafty Lady

I’ll confess – I have a weakness for fun craft supplies. Sometimes, I almost think it’s more fun to collect craft supplies than it is to actually craft. It’s definitely easier to shop for craft supplies with kids than it is to actually craft with them! Giving crafty gifts to someone who likes crafting can be a bit tricky, because it can be easy for craft supplies to turn into clutter… and crafting usually isn’t exactly a cheap hobby. But craft gifts are such fun gifts to give (and receive), I thought this would be an especially fun installment in my “Give Great Gifts on A Bare-Bones Budget” series. And, yes, I have had a blast brainstorming fun crafty gift for crafter

Here are some (mostly) budget-friendly gift ideas for the craft-loving lady in your life (or to add to your own wish list!):

Scrapbook embellishments – This works especially well if your scrapbooking gift recipient has been on a big trip or had a major life event (birth of a baby, maybe?) recently. Themed paper, stickers, and other embellishments that match the event are a great gift. I’m normally too cheap frugal to buy many scrapbook-specific embellishments for myself, but they make scrapbooking even more fun and my pages with embellishments look way better than my usual ones do. My sister and mother-in-law have both given me fun embellishments for my scrapbooks over the years and I’ve loved them! If you shop at Joann’s, Michaels, or AC Moore, make sure to check their websites before you shop – they often have coupons you can use in-store to get an even better deal.

Photo Prints – The cost of printing photos to use when scrapbooking can really add up! Consider giving a gift certificate to a photo printing company or website that publishes digital scrapbooks. Even $20 would print a lot of photos and take some expense out of this (fairly pricey) hobby.

Sewing patterns or books – My sister has sewed using a bunch of patterns from Made by Rae and they’re all super cute with clear instructions to follow. For a unique and helpful gift for the seamstress on your list, consider gifting a pattern or two from Made by Rae or from an Etsy seller. If you’d rather give a book with patterns, sewing tips, and project ideas, I have enjoyed reading through my copies of Oliver + S Little Things to Sew: 20 Classic Accessories and Toys for Children and Sew Hip (which includes a DVD). I’ve learned a lot reading these two books, but I’ve been too timid to try any of the projects just yet!

Classes – Speaking of my being too timid, if you know someone who likes to craft but would like to brush up on her skills a bit, a class (online or in-person) is a great gift! Here’s an idea for any dads out there: Giving your wives the time and money to take a crafting class of some sort without kids around will score you major brownie points. Beach Dad gave me this for my birthday and, while I haven’t actually done it yet, just knowing I’ll get to soon is a gift. As I’ve researched the various online classes, the best options I’ve found are all of the scrapbooking, photo-editing, and design classes from Jessica Sprague (everything on her site is gorgeous!); this home design course from Red Velvet; and Big Picture’s card-making class (or really any of their self-paced classes). I also found this helpful evaluation of online scrapbooking classes. As far as sewing classes, I’d rather do that in person than online, so I recommend you check out your local fabric store for their course offerings.

If you’ve ever taken an online course of some sort, I’d love to hear about it in the comments; I’m still deciding which one I’ll take!

Gift certificate – If you don’t feel comfortable signing someone else up for a class, consider giving a gift certificate to your local craft or fabric store. That way, your recipient has the flexibility to use the money toward a class or for supplies.

gift for crafter

Cake decorating kit – Beach Dad and Beach Girl got me this cake decorating kit for my first-ever Mother’s Day and I love it. The instruction booklet has helped me start learning how to decorate cakes and I use the supplies every birthday or holiday possible. I have so much fun with it and love decorating the cakes … and eating them. You could also throw in my recipes for the best ever chocolate cupcakes and icing or include a cake decorating class at your local craft store.

Watercolor Postcards – This set of blank postcards and water color paints from anthropologie looks like a lot of fun! It’s $20 and includes everything you need, or you could probably put together something similar for even less money if you had some time to spend on it.

Craft in A Box – If you’re feeling adventurous, browse Pinterest and find a craft you think your recipient might enjoy doing. Then, print out the tutorial (or give them the link) and provide them with all the supplies they’ll need to do it. For example, I made mod podged clipboards at MOPS recently and loved it! The project was fairly simple and the end-result was useful and fun. So, if you chose to give a “mod podged clipboard craft pack”, you could include this tutorial, a clipboard or two, some fun scrapbooking paper and stickers, a bottle of mod podge, and a sponge paintbrush. Package it all up and you have a great gift (and fun project for your gift recipient!) for under $10.

gift for crafterSilhouette or accessories – A few years ago, I bought the Silhouette craft-cutting machine and it’s helped me make all sorts of fun projects, including cupcake toppers for Beach Girl’s birthday parties. If you’re not familiar with the Silhouette, it works basically like a printer except instead of printing ink on the page, it cuts out the shapes that you’ve designed on the computer using their easy-to-use software. The Silhouette starter pack
costs about $270, but is one of those more expensive gifts that I think is really worth the money if you’re feeling extra generous! I have an older version and love it, but the new version – the Cameo – looks super awesome. It can even cut fabric! If your recipient already has a Silhouette, you can get her some accessories like the Silhouette sketch pens, Silhouette Pick Me Up Tool, or QuicKutz Adhesive Vinyl (each of these accessories is about $10). Beach Dad has gotten me all of those as gifts before and they make using the Silhouette even more fun!

Young House Love’s new bookYoung House Love is one of my favorite blogs. It’s filled with all sorts of great ideas for home decor and other DIY/crafty ideas, and they’re coming out with a book next month. I can’t wait! I think any crafty lady would love to read Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love.

Handmade gift – Crafty ladies always like receiving crafty gifts too. You could make her something like the mod podge clipboards or this cute upcycled jewelry hanger yourself or check out etsy or a local craft show for a handmade gift.

gift craft

Cookie decorating supplies – Last Valentine’s Day, my friend Toni and I made these gorgeous (and yummy!) cookies following Bake at 350‘s instructions. It was surprisingly easy and really, really fun. If you’ve never seen her website, check out this cookie index. Every single cookie she makes is gorgeous! But to make these beauties, you need a few unique ingredients and tools. As a super fun gift, you can provide your recipient with Bake at 350’s recipe for Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing as well as everything she’ll need to make them – meringue powder, AmeriColor soft gel paste food color, and Wilton decorating squeeze bottles (I’d get 2 sets of these bottles, so she can decorate with 4 colors at once). The whole gift will cost about $36 and will set her up to make lots and lots of beautiful cookies. This is one of those things I’d never buy myself ($36 is a pretty big upfront cost to me!), but would love to use if someone else gave it to me… the perfect type of gift! Also- I just saw that Bake at 350 came out with a book with all her cookie ideas – Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations & Everyday ($10.31). *Swoon*

Phew! Now, I feel inspired to go do something crafty… or at least to shop for some fun supplies!

[Note: I included prices for some of these items, but they’re subject to change. If you purchase through my amazon affiliate links, you’ll be helping to support Thanks!]

I hope these gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for the crafty lady in your life… or maybe help you write your own wishlist. I know I’ll be having Beach Dad read this post too haha! Check out the other lists I’m making for “Give Great Gifts on a Barebones Budget” and subscribe to stay up to date!

Do you have any gift ideas for ladies who like to craft? I’d love to hear from you!

Linked to: Life as Mom, Feature Yourself Friday, 5 Days 5 Ways, At the Picket Fence, The Shabby Nest, Sundae Scoop, and Naptime Crafters.

Give Great Gifts on A Bare-Bones Budget

christmas gift ideasWhenever I read lists of gift ideas in magazines, I walk away feeling discouraged.  Almost anything the glossy pages suggest for under $30 is more like a stocking stuffer and seems like it would end up in the donate pile by year’s end (and, since Christmas is only a week before year’s end, you know it’s gotta be junk). Besides, if I had $100+ to spend on each of my family members, I don’t feel like I’d need to read lists of gift ideas.  If I had $100 to spend per family member, I’d be abounding in ideas.  Hey, I could even give gift cards and not seem cheap!

But, in the real world, with our real budget, $100 per person gifts don’t work. With 20 “immediately extended” family members to buy gifts for – plus the 4 of us who live in this house – that type of Christmas spending doesn’t line up with our budget. Instead, we budget $20 per family member (with a little extra for our mom’s stockings) and challenge ourselves to find the very best gifts we can for each of our beloved family members.  As weird as it may sound, I love the challenge.  Our low budget actually makes Christmas shopping more fun for me.  Don’t get me wrong – a high budget sounds fun too – but I’m working with what I actually have to give.

Whether it’s finding good deals, crafting something special, or packaging the gift in a unique way, I love the challenge of figuring out how to give meaningful, useful, and valuable gifts… even when I only have $20 to spend.

Since I know this short-on-cash, high-on-gifts-to-give dilemma is a common one, I thought it’d be fun to run a series here at over the next couple months — Give Great Gifts on a Bare-Bones Budget.  

I’ve already started working on some of the posts and I’m super excited about the series.  These lists are what I wish I’d found years ago when I first googled “how to give a frugal gift people actually like.”

I’ve been informally researching for these lists for years and have asked friends and family for input.  I think this series will be a great resource for anyone who is hoping to give meaningful and useful gifts without breaking the bank.

Each week, I’ll post ideas for a specific “type” of person on your gift list, including some of those people who are hardest to shop for.  Most of the ideas will be under $20 per person with a few “splurges” occasionally thrown in.

So far, my list includes:

Please let me know if there are any categories of gifts you’d like me to write about and I’ll do my best! And, make sure to subscribe so you can join us for all the fun.

I’m looking forward to sharing ideas for how to give great gifts to the people you love, even on a bare-bones budget!