Monday, September 12, 2011

MrsDrPoe: Lavish Gifts on a Budget

It's Money Monday once again, and today we'll be continuing the series about how to give without going broke.  Last week we discussed the necessity of having a gift budget and planning to ensure that you can stay within that budget while still giving gifts that your loved ones would like.  While your brainstorming sessions have probably given you some great ideas for the people on your list, this post will hopefully give you some more...or at least some suggestions as to where to look for some fantastic deals/sales.  As you're perusing, remember...when you're on a tight budget, it's okay to be cheap!


There are several ladies that I buy for during the holidays.  It's always relatively easy to think of something they'd love to have, but sometimes hard to follow through with the more expensive items (without coupons and black Friday, that is).

Food Baskets -  My family loves food, so baskets overflowing with it are definitely a great gift idea for them.  Through couponing, I obtain all types of goodies that would make the perfect basket for any member of the family.  If the member doesn't cook- a basket of his/her favorite snacks and just-add-water foods is perfect; if the member does cook- a basket of noodles, staple items, and exotic ingredients works wonderfully. 

Bath Baskets - As I've mentioned before, couponing allows me to purchase name-brand toiletries for less than store brands.  Through playing the drug store game, I've also had the opportunity to purchase items such as lip balms, nail polishes, etc. for free.  By combining my couponing bounty in a lovely basket (check the Dollar Tree for cute, cheap ones), I've got a lovely gift that any woman would love to pamper herself with! 

Spa Treatment - If the ladies on your list prefer to be pampered by someone else, you can look for deals on massages, manicures, pedicures, and the like.  Perhaps one of the most obvious resources to use is a deal website such as Groupon, LivingSocial, or HalfOffDepot.  Another option is to check the phone book for local beautician schools; since students are performing the service, you get a discounted rate- in case you're wary of this suggestion, I haven't had a bad experience with this yet. 

Framed Pictures - This is one of my favorite gift ideas for moms and grandmothers...I mean, really, who doesn't like pictures of their kids/dogs or grandkids/granddogs?  Department stores (Khols, Sears, JCPenny) and craft stores (Michaels, Hobby Lobby) often sell frames at greatly discounted prices, especially around black Friday (don't forget to check the clearance section!!).  And drug stores (CVS, Wags, Rite Aid) frequently offer fantastic deals on photos that you can order online and pick up in store to save you time in line and shipping costs.

Clothes - As you may know, I have zero fashion I typically don't give clothes as gifts (especially to women).  But for those of you who are fashion savvy, this is always a budget friendly gift option if you look at the right times and places.  Many department stores now offer store rewards: Khols sometimes gives $10 Khols Cash for every $50 spent, JCP Rewards always gives $10 for every $250 spent, and around Father's Day, Sears often gives a $50 gift card for men's clothing for a $50 purchase of qualifying men's clothing.  These stores also give out coupons in the paper, in the mail, and online.  One way to ensure you're getting the best deals no matter where you shop is to shop in the is the perfect time to start stocking up on summer clothes.  (Clothing makes a great gift for kids and guys too!)

Kitchen Gadgets - I love to cook, and all the ladies on my list get some level of enjoyment out of it as well.  In the past, JCPenny has been my go-to place for kitchen appliances- on black Friday I've found slow cookers, panini presses, waffle irons, fondue pots, etc. for $10-$15.  Williams Sonoma outlet stores also have great deals like 50% (or more) off All-Clad or Apilco.


As the family's grown we've added a lot more guys to the mix.  I find it much harder to figure out a suitable gift for them than I do for the girls, especially my dad (more on that next week).

Restaurant Voucher - All the guys we get gifts for enjoy eating.  While restaurant gift cards are great for more common restaurants, vouchers from Groupon or are good for more local fare.  Often (like now for instance) has amazing 80% off sales where you can get $10 vouchers for $1 and $25 for $2-$3.  These vouchers typically require you to buy more than their worth, like $20 and $35 respectively, but they still make a nice gift for both the giver's wallet and the receiver's.

Tools - Mr. Poe and Papa Poe especially love opening tools on Christmas morning.  Of course, this gift can be particularly expensive if you just go buy some; however, if you're patient, you'll very likely find some great prices.  Harbor Freight sells cheaper, decent quality tools; Sears often has fantastic deals on Craftsman tools on black Friday.

Oil - If the guys that you're buying for are automotively inclined (yes, I just made up that word), oil changing materials are a practical gift that you can often find at a decent price at any standard auto parts store (Advanced Auto, Auto Zone).

Sporting Equipment - Another idea for the guy on your list is some type of sporting equipment.  Even if he doesn't play on a team with a uniform, that doesn't mean he doesn't play something- Mr. Poe played intramural water polo, softball, football, Frisbee, etc. at MSU; more than once he needed receiver's gloves.  You can find decent deals on sports items on Craig's List, as well as at sporting goods stores (Academy, Dicks) on black Friday and immediately after that sport's season ends.  (Of course, this is a great idea for athletes in any of these groups.)


This is one area that our family hasn't breached yet, but we will in the next few years, Lord willing.  I'd be particularly interested in your comments related to this category!

Games - If you know a child that loves games, there are almost always coupons on coupon sites (and at store sites) that can help you get some great deals on games at big box stores (Walmart, Target).  Thrift stores and yard sales often have a few gently-used games that are almost as good as new.

Movies/Video Games - What kid doesn't like digital entertainment these days?  I'll tell you right now that the best deal you'll ever get on movies is waiting until black Friday when BestBuy has tons of movies ranging in price from $3-$10.  If I still haven't convinced you that you need to be up way before dawn November 25 this year, I've seen some blue ray coupons online as well, and Amazon usually has good prices on used, like-new media.  Please check the parental advisory ratings before making your purchases.

Books - It seems as though the gift of books is not as popular as it once was; however, if there's a kid (or guy or gal) on your list who loves to read, these make a perfect, low-cost gift.  Often thrift stores have little used books ranging in price from $0.50-$3.00; Amazon is another option for both new, used, and digital books.  Crystal comes across free digital books (typically for adults/older kids) quite frequently, and if you blog, Booksneeze is a nice way to get free books (digital or hard copies) in exchange for a review.    

Candy - If you're not the one dealing with the resulting sugar rush, candy is another idea for children of all ages.  Again with the drug store game, I've been able to purchase all different types of candy and gum very cheaply.  If you feel too cheap giving just candy, this pairs nicely with a movie or Netflix gift subscription.

Trips - An nontraditional gift for a child is a trip to a local theme park, zoo, museum, etc.  Deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and HalfOffDepot often offer vouchers for these types of excursions at a greatly reduced price.  If you're considering purchasing this for a child on your list, you may also get one for his/her parent or guardian.

Gift Cards -   For the kid that has everything (or the kid who's hard to buy for), just about every store has gift cards these days.  Sometimes restaurants have deals on their gift cards (buy one and get a free drink, buy a $40 card and get an extra $10 card, etc.).  We've also seen great deals on itunes gift cards through CVS* and Coinstar in previous years (buy $40 get a card for $10).  AND if you use Swagbucks, you could always donate some of your Amazon gift card codes as a gift (to pretty it up a bit, make up a certificate with the digital code on it).  Gift cards a fantastic idea...for kids and adults; I would advise that before you purchase one, however, that you double check to make sure a fee won't be charged to the card for a period of inactivity.  

*This very week, CVS has a deal going where, if you purchase $50 in itunes gift cards, you can get $10 back in ECBs.


Dogs are one thing we have tons of...on Mr. Poe's side there are two others and on my side there are three others in addition to our two.  Whether we get these 'kids' something or not depends on how the budget is looking as we draw closer to Christmas...but we have definitely found some great deals on pet gifts in the past.

Stuffed Animals - Mr. Fargus (Mrs. Luke's "son") LOVES stuffed animals, but if you try to purchase one at a pet store, you could pay up to ten dollars for a toy that he'll have un-stuffed in a week.  To stretch my dollar, I check out thrift stores and yard sales for stuffed animals.  I can typically find some for $0.50-$1.00, which makes Mr. Fargus and I both happy.  Do be sure to wash any animals you bring home. 

Rope Toys - Monster (aka Layla) loves to play tug of war with anything- particularly pieces of rope.  Just like with the stuffed animals, though, these toys are usually not cheap entertainment when purchased at a pet store.  Instead, try picking up a piece of rope from a hardware store (Home Dept, Lowes).  They sell whatever length you want from big spools of different types of rope...just make sure you get softer rope not made of plastic or your furry friend might hurt himself/herself.

Food or Treats - If you're a more practical gift-giver (or if your gift recipient is like Sascha and doesn't particularly care for toys), food and treats are always an option.  Pet stores typically have better sales on these 'every day' items than the toys, and you can typically find coupons for them as well.  We love our local PetSmart- it seems like they always have some type of dog food sale or promotion going on.  Before purchasing these gifts, however, check with the owner to see what brand(s) the pet usually eats and if he/she is allergic to anything.

What nice (cheap-er) gifts have you bought in the past?  Where/when do you find your best gift deals?


Post a Comment