Contributed by Barbara L.


Financially it was a rough year for me (as it was for many of us) and I did not have much to spend on holiday presents. So I had to be more thoughtful about how I spent the money I did have in ways that would be meaningful to my friends and family. Here’s how that worked out.

My father grew up drinking a brand of soda that is not widely carried by stores. He talks about it sometimes and hasn’t had it for years.  I went to the company’s website and found a store close enough to me that stocks the soda.  I bought a couple of bottles and wrapped them up. Total cost: $5

My uncle likes to play the lottery.  He enjoys scratch off tickets. I bought him 5 scratch off lottery cards. Total cost $5.

One of my friends enjoys baking and sweets. I make up three types of Christmas cookies each year and usually have many leftovers that last my family for a week.  She also makes the same cookies each year.  I invited her over for a cookie baking party.  I prepared two types ahead of time and we each made one batch of our family’s traditional cookies.  I gave her some from each of mine and she gave me some of hers.  Total cost: $0, as I would have made them anyway.

A friend of mine lives away from his family so I thought it would be great to invite him to a delicious, holiday-style home cooked meal. I made butternut squash soup, stew and some apple pie from scratch. He loved it!  Total cost: $5 for the apples; I had all the other ingredients on hand.

In the end I was able to buy all my holiday gifts for less than $20, which was significantly less that what I spent last year. Most of all, their feedback was so much more enthusiastic that it has totally changed how I look at gift-giving in general.

What inexpensive holiday presents have you enjoyed giving and receiving? We invite you to write your comments in the box below.