General Question

evegrimm's avatar

Suggestions for inexpensive, but still thoughtful Christmas presents? Please see details.

Asked by evegrimm (3695 points ) September 26th, 2009

I have a relative who I like very much, but she is very “hard” on her belongings—they don’t hold up well because she isn’t careful with them. However, I would like to purchase or make her something that is thoughtful but inexpensive (starving student here!). Ideas?

I have another relative, who, while not “hard” on her objects, makes a lot of money and buys whatever she needs. Although I could knit her a nice scarf, it wouldn’t get appreciated. Ideas for this relative, too, please!

Thank you for any and all ideas!

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27 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

When I celebrated Christmas (I was married to a Gentile for a while) I used to love giving beautiful, unusual Christmas tree ornaments.

chicadelplaya's avatar

You could always knit a scarf or something of the like they have easy kits if you haven’t learned to knit OR make her a beautiful set of candle holders (with small glass jars, tissue paper, and modge podge). That’s what I would do. And it’s a theraputic, fun project. :)

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Amazon.com gift credits are wonderful.
If the person doesn’t treat gifts with care or respect, letting them buy their own gifts with a gift card and this may teach them to care for their belongings better. If not, that’s on them.

I know I wouldnt spend much time crafting a gift for someone if I had a reasonable expectation that they would destroy it.

Buttonstc's avatar

How about something consumable that you have cooked or baked yourself? This could solve the problem for both. People tend to appreciate anything handmade since the thought and effort involved are usually more valuable.

Or you could also get a soap making kit from the crafts store.

laureth's avatar

Food is an awesome gift. It’s handmade, shows you care, is delicious, and best of all, it disappears – so you don’t have to bring it out and put it on the mantel every time old aunt Edna comes over. The lady who’s hard on her stuff will chew them right up! ;)

For the other one, we just have to come up with something money can’t buy – time. Is there something she likes to do, but needs a companion for? Go see a play or something with her. Or take a beading class together. Or something. Time is priceless.

virtualist's avatar

….. send each of them a JellyShirt….......

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Time is always a good gift. So is gathering up family photos and putting them in a small album.

If you can cook, host a tea party for them and their friends. I did this for my MIL one year, and she and her friends talked about it for years. I made little desserts and sandwiches, got fresh flowers for the table, used the good china, tablecloth, etc. and sent out handmade invitations.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Go dumpster diving. It sounds gross, but people throw great stuff away. I don’t go dumpster diving per se, but every time my mother’s neighborhood has a bulk pick up, I go pick through it. I’ve found some great stuff that friends and family have appreciated provided they didn’t know the source of the gift.

photographcrash's avatar

from one starving student to another.. I always go find a really cute cheap picture frame and order a print of a good picture of the person and I (at walgreens/cvs you can get a single print for like 0.30) and give that as a gift. Its personal, yet inexpensive. And if you are so inclined, you can paint/decorate the frame :]

CMaz's avatar

How about giving the gifts you got last Christmas.
You know, the ones you stuffed in the closet and never used or opened.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Spa Package.
Contents:
Soap (purchase)
Bath Salts (make)
Bath Bombs (the fizzy things) (make)
Washcloth (purchase)
Lotion (purchase)
Bath oil (make)
Massage oil (make)
Sugar scrub (make)

Put in small basket and present.

Hidden object book.
Go to a secondhand book shop.
Buy a cheap, fat book.
Use watery glue to paint along the edges, keeping one side open and a few pages separate.
Let dry.
Using a pencil, measure 1 – 2 inches from each edge and mark rectangle.
Using an xacto knife (or other tool), cut pages away until you get so bored you can’t stand to look at the book ever again.
Using watery glue, glue down rough edges if you want or line the inside.
Glue page on above top part of compartment onto compartment and carefully cut away the hole. This just makes it look nicer.

Tea.
Or other food/drink items you know will be enjoyed.

I would be happy to give more examples if you talked a bit about what they like. After all, half of a good gift is knowing your audience.

Also, that scarf is drop dead gorgeous!

serendipity's avatar

Donations in their name to an organization (whatever you think they would like).

evegrimm's avatar

@EmpressPixie, that Spa Basket sounds like a great idea for the one aunt. She’s the type who is appreciative of anything, but, like I said, I wouldn’t want to knit her something that will be destroyed rather quickly and/or will felt if she puts it in the washing machine. D:

The other aunt is very difficult to buy for. Um…she’s a type-A personality, always on the go, doesn’t eat lunch because she doesn’t have time at work, has a kid in 5th grade and always hosts the family get-togethers. She’s also…um…blunt. (“bitchy” would be another way to put it: she has no problem telling you something is ugly/that you look bad or that a gift is stupid/useless/thoughtless/etc.) I like her well enough, but it’s sort of like…what do you get for someone who has everything and will tell you if your gift was completely off?

I really like @laureth‘s idea of baking for family members, as it’s reasonably inexpensive, fun, and food is never unappreciated.

Thanks for all the great ideas! (I wouldn’t mind more…)

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@evegrimm I wouldn’t get the second aunt anything if she’s that picky! Tell her you’ve gifted her a lack of clutter.

evegrimm's avatar

@Beta_Orionis, too bad that won’t work! Although I chuckled a bit at your response. :D

YARNLADY's avatar

I sometimes make a supply of greeting cards for people and put them in a box, so they can send them out to their other family and friends.

EmpressPixie's avatar

If you choose to make bath bombs, I highly recommend this recipe. Even if you don’t like it, you should read the note about cornstarch. Also, check out her other recipes.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@evegrimm, LOL. I was thinking “aunts” as in their 60’s, not “aunts” as in my age or younger.

Here is what I am giving my friends and my sister this year. I usually buy practical, relatively inexpensive gifts.

Herb Snips. These are great because you can not only snip leaves, but there’s a toothed part to strip small leaves off a stem, like oregano.
Microplane for zesting lemons, parmesan cheese, etc.
I will pare these up with really cool dish towels, and a small cookbook from the remainder table at Borders Books (they have lots of beautiful books for $5.99)

Last year, everyone received IKEA bags and a gift card to Trader Joes. Interestingly, I still get feedback on these bags; people like them.

Other things I’ve given in the past: fun cocktail napkins, cocktail forks, swizzle sticks. Stemless wine glasses (This is the most versatile glass I have ever owned. I use them for wine, eggnog, mixed drinks, orange juice at brunches, chocolate mousse.)

On a more personal note, a bungee cord purse has always been well-received. They are made out of upholstery fabric with bungee cords for handles. There are several vendors Etsy that make these. If you can sew, these are not difficult to make.

No money gifts: One year, my daughter organized and scanned 1,500 family photos and gave them to me on a disk. A friend’s son set up a Facebook page for her, with a few photos, and her college and high school information, and friended her high school friends for her. Collect family recipes and make a booklet with family pictures and stories about events, who in the family liked that recipe, etc. Get old family movies from your grandparents and convert them to DVD. Take pictures of their children that they don’t know you are taking, and have them framed. Find out what music they like, get on Pandora, and burn CDs of new music that is similar.

I like practical gifts. Things that would be really great gifts for me this year are replacements for things that I own—a new golf umbrella (mine is faded in places and is ugly), a new flashlight/lantern with emergency radio (I really missed the old one when the power went out this winter), an offer to conduct (organize, price, hold, advertise, etc.) a yard sale for me.

EmpressPixie's avatar

A few kind of odd suggestions for the practical aunt:
1. Dry Erase Stickies: http://www.amazon.com/Peel-Stick-Erase-Panels-Wallies/dp/B0012U9LXO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1254057348&sr=8-1
My Type A mother uses them everywhere now. And sent tons to me. It’s not that your aunt couldn’t buy them, it’s that she probably doesn’t know about them.

2. Spices. A good quality, all purpose spice blend can make cooking a lot faster and easier during the week. You probably have a local spice shop that she doesn’t have access to that blends its own blends. Go there. Ask them about it.

3. Biscotti. Homemade. Make a batch for yourself, even if you “don’t like biscotti” to test this idea out. Trust me on this.

4. If she works a desk job, get little containers (IKEA has a set of 4 or 5 for a great price) and fill them with things that will give her energy and keep her full at her desk without stopping to really eat. Suggestions: granola, chocolate covered almonds, dried fruit.

5. A coupon for cleaning up after the next family get together. I mean, if she always hosts them….

6. Give the aunt a nice card and get something you know the kid needs. Not that the kid will necessarily like, mind you, but that he needs.

7. Painfully practical: a cold/flu season basket:
Chicken noodle soup (or whatever soup is your family’s sick soup)
Tissues
More tissues
Rice compress (can’t think of a better way to describe them—those cloth bags with rice or oatmeal or whatever that you can stick in the freezer to cool down or the microwave to heat up). If you make this AND happen to know a favorite scent, you can make it scented.
Mug(s) (unless they have a million, billion already)
Tea
Honey
Hand sanitizer
Toothbrush
Thermometer
I’m trying to avoid saying any actual medications because people are so picky about those. I would normally include cough drops, but even those can be iffy.

She might not fall in love with the gift, but she’ll use it. Especially with a kid at school—schools are little cesspits of illness in winter.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@evegrimm heh. I know. I have some family members like that. I swear I’ll come up with a serious idea soon.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanx for asking this question. I’m going to come back to it closer to the holidays and use the responses to help me out. I was just thinking how I might have to tell everyone we weren’t doing Christmas this year.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I’ve been thinking about these answers and thinking about how nice it would be to have someone help with holiday meals, or take pictures all day, or clean up afterwards for me. That would be so lovely!

wickedbetty's avatar

I have been in this situation many time and one of the most rewarding gifts I have ever given and also received was a nice letter. I wrote a letter saying how much I appreciated the person and listed some things they had done that meant a lot to me. It is free but means the world.

bath_angel's avatar

I’ve got just the thing for you, Bath Salts!! You can make them by hand and you can buy all the supplies online. To make the gift thoughtful, you can create a really fancy package for it which you can look for. http://www.sfbsc.com/bath_salt_recipes

pinkparaluies's avatar

Recipe jar? I made a post about that a few days ago. Theyre pretty inexpensive to make and come from the heart.

WilAthart's avatar

I am totally with you! I can literally only afford about $8 dollars per gift! So this is what I did. I hit up the local dollar general! I grabbed a large santa hat/stocking and stuffed it with gender appropriate gifts! For a girl, perfume, a journal, pens, candy, lotion, a little stuffed animal, a book, little things like that. And if you still feel guilty about the overall cost, buy a cheap journal and fill it with meaningful comments about your relationship! Complete it with pictures, drawings, and little things to slip in! Add practical things that he/she will enjoy, along with something more ‘awww’ inspiring! The best of luck!

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