#1. Do not underestimate the power of a homemade gift.
If times are tough and you want to spread love but don't have the cash - use your oven! Or your hands! If you give out cookies as a gift, are people really going to complain? Chances are, no. Maybe only to say that they are so delicious and it's a "healthy eating" nightmare. If you aren't a crazy baker - well you know what? You're in luck. I think studies show that 97.4% of people like chocolate chip cookies. These are easy. You don't have to be a master baker to spread love. (hee hee...)
So here you have it. Over the weekend I made up cookies. If you missed that post, I wrote up a little blurb on how to decorate sugar cookies really easily but make them look good. Click Here if you care to read it. Well point being - if I add up all the ingredients used (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, crisco, etc.), the essential tools need to decorate (4 disposable Wilton bags @ .10 cents each & about 7 toothpicks - I didn't use tips on these cookies - so that cost doesn't count), and the bags (bought at Michael's with a 40% off coupon a while back - well I spent about $6 or $7 and that's highballing to make 67 individual bags of cookies. That's roughly about 11 or 12 cents a "gift". Plus, I have about 2 dozen cookies leftover that we're keeping.
So if you feel compelled to give a bunch of people gifts - try homemade! This can work for Christmas, Easter, Birthday parties, etc. Who's really going to complain? And if they do - so what!
#2. Adopt Cheap Traditions
When I was a little girl, my grandfather would always give me this fancy heart a few days after Valentine's Day. You know - nothing huge - but a heart that was all fancy and decorated with a fabric flower and ribbon. It wasn't the cheapo red box kind. Being an 8 year-old girl - I loved it! I remember one year he told me that he always gives it to me after Valentine's Day because on February 15, all the hearts go 50% off and why spend twice as much on a box of candy when you can get it for half price the next day? Smart man! I think he also did this with my mother when she was little - although I could be wrong.
So we took the tradition and put a spin on it. The family goes up to CVS on February 15th and we let our two boys pick out any heart they want. They aren't smitten with the fancy fabric hearts - they usually pick out Sponge Bob themed hearts or whatever cartoon character they can find. My husband usually just tries to find the biggest heart he can. It's not all sappy and stuff, but we have fun and we save 50% doing it this way. I mean - everyone needs a heart for Valentine's Day! It's okay if it's a day late.
This post is partially inspired by the group challenge Precious started at Frugal Makes Cents.