In just a few short weeks, Christmas gift exchanging will occur. This means that now is the time to find the perfect Christmas present — a present that the recipient both needs and appreciates. It is also, hopefully, a gift that reinforces the connection between the giver and the receiver.
But how do you exchange presents with the ones you love, and express your feelings of affection toward others when it is hard to make ends meet?
Fortunately, there are many creative and thoughtful gifts that you can give to loved ones over the holiday season. Here are just a few of them that help show your love to friends and family.
Gifts of time and expertise
How do your loved ones view you? Are you viewed as the family computer expert? Are you the one that the family relies on when it is time to barbecue at a family gathering, or to plan an upcoming family gathering? If you are, your loved ones may appreciate receiving a gift that reflects your time and expertise on a specific subject. For example, you could give an awesome gift to a relative simply by offering your expertise to a loved one. If you are a computer expert, your gift to an elderly person in your family could be to spend an afternoon showing him or her how to create and use social media accounts or streaming videos. If you are the "chef in residence" in your family, you can offer the gift of a personal cooking lesson, along with the ingredients needed to create a gourmet meal.
All too often, generic gift baskets are boring. But if you take the time to get to know the recipient, you can assemble a gift basket that is truly thoughtful. Here are a few examples of items you could include in a gift basket that you create for a loved one:
Tickets to see a favorite local musician
A few favorite candy bars or other snacks the person wouldn't buy for him or herself
Some of their local hometown favorites, such as regional sodas, chips or other snacks
Travel-sized versions of the recipient's favorite lotions, soaps and scents
Gift cards for points and other bonuses on games played on Facebook or other social media sites (Especially when you and the recipient play these games against one another)
A blanket – an inexpensive, yet well-made microfiber blanket is a great addition to any gift basket.
Cookbooks can be expensive; however, if you do not have a lot of money to spend, cookbooks are still a great gift idea.
Local churches and other organizations often sell cookbooks to support their various causes, and they often sell for less than $20 each. Many times, these books are even dedicated to holiday recipes. Or, if you have a collection of favorite recipes, try turning it into a collection to give to friends and family.
Soaps and bath bombs
If you look for them at discount stores, or even in discount bins at mall stores, you can find bath bombs and pretty little hand soaps at a very low price. If you are willing to make them yourself with molds and other supplies from craft stores, the cost is even lower (provided that you plan to make the items in bulk).
Once you have the soaps and bath bombs on hand, you can use creative packaging to create an even more special gift. For example, you can give soaps in lace-wrapped mason jars, or give bath bombs that have been individually wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a decorative box.
Food gifts are always appreciated. And even better, there is such a wide variety of items that you can give, and you don't need to be an established gourmet to put a food gift together. One option would be to assemble the ingredients needed to make a dish and present them in a creative way. Pinterest is full of examples explaining how to package homemade chili mixes, vegetable soup kits, brownie mixes and other items in decorative jars that can also be used for display. If you do choose to cook baked goods, there are candies, handmade chocolates and snack mixes can be made without spending too much money. Again, you can package these in creative ways to make them even more special when you present them to the recipient. Finally, the holidays are an extremely busy time for everyone. A ready-to-cook tray of cinnamon rolls, a breakfast casserole or a lasagna is a perfect gift for somebody who is hosting family on a hectic Christmas morning, or who simply needs an easy meal to serve over the holiday season.
Holiday shopping does not have to lead to money spending and financial stress. If you prepare in advance and learn how to budget your holiday gift spending, you can easily dazzle those on your gift list on a budget.
Laura Callisen is a freelance blogger and journalist. Today she works as a business consultant and contributes many posts about education, family relations, children development and culture. Follow her on Twitter to see her portfolio!