I used to cringe every time the holiday season began to come around, and then whenever there were birthdays, weddings, or baby showers I would cringe again. I was spending so much time cringing that my face almost got stuck that way. The reason I was cringing was because I knew I should give a gift to people during these special occasions, but I simply couldn’t afford to.

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Then one day I asked myself “Why should I be a cringe-faced gift giver?” I knew that there had to be a better way. Since then, I have discovered ways of giving gifts that show I care without spending a lot of money. And my cringed face is returning to normal.

Here are a few ideas for great gift ideas that recipients will love and so will your checkbook.

Make gifts

If you know a craft like knitting or sewing you could make a gift that is a work of art. I like to knit little hats and blankets for baby showers, afghans for wedding gifts, and scarves for birthdays. People love them, and what I can create with my hands is often nicer than what is available in the stores. Also, my handcrafts mean a lot to people, because I spent the time to make them.

Then there are lovely creations which anyone can make, such as potpourri jars.

Food makes a great gift too. Every year during cherry season I make an effort to go cherry picking with the kids. We come home with way more cherries than we can eat, so we make wonderful cherry preserves. Since we never-ever throw out jars, we have plenty of jars for storing the preserves. I like to add a personal touch to my cherry preserves by putting a label on each one. People love receiving my homemade jam as a gift.

Important: if you are interested in canning jam or anything else it’s important to learn how to do it right so that the food doesn’t spoil.

Give your services as a gift

When I got married a dentist gave us both a free checkup as a gift, and we appreciated it so much that we started going to him for our dental work. If you have a valuable skill you can give that as a present. (This is also a good way to start your own business since if people are happy with your help they will start to recommend you to their friends).

A gift for a husband is an hour long massage. Think about it; although you’ve probably traded messages before have you ever given him a full hour-long message? If he’s anything like my hubby, he’ll love it. One way to make this gift more tangible is to write up a coupon that says something like this…

“Coupon for One hour of Susie’s Professional Message Services
$150 Value”

If you have a small jar you can even put some massage oil inside the jar and give the jar with the coupon. It’s a very romantic touch.

Make the Card

Nobody every remembers the jokes that are written on Hallmark cards, because they are not personal. The best cards are the ones that you make yourself.

Here are some ideas for giving store-bought gifts

Give gifts on January 1st instead

Once the holiday season gift buying extravaganza ends everything goes on super sale, but nobody has any money left to take advantage of the opportunity. Gifts cost about half as much if you can wait a few extra days.

Limit the price of each gift

In our family, we choose a price that nobody is allowed to go over when buying a gift for someone else. If someone wants a gift that costs more than that two or more people can pool their resources to give the gift together.

Rachel Walker is a contributor and business consultant to FastUpFront, a company offering business loan options to existing businesses based on future sales.

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