Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gifts That Count: The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide

When you're thrifty you spend wisely. Instead of buying holiday gifts our friends and families don't need, we should consider practical options. Below I've compiled The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide of thrifty gifts that are useful and worth every penny.

Money spent on quality food and drink is never wasted. Provide your friends/family with...

  • Tea and Coffee
  • Wine and Liquor
  • Homemade Treats
  • Supermarket Gift/Rewards Cards
  • Year's worth of vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Cook Books [Bonus Points: Cook Books on eating frugally]
  • Condiments like BBQ Sauce and Special Spices with festive labels
  • DIY "Make Your Own Cookies" or other "From Scratch" food kits

[Special Mention: Community-supported Agriculture] A CSA share provides fresh produce from local farms for months. Find a local one by going here and scrolling down to "Find a CSA Farm".]

Buy your friends an annual membership and you can save them hundreds or thousands in the long run.


  •  Magazine Subscriptions
  • Coupon or Discount Clubs
  • Warehouse Club Memberships
  • Annual Transit Pass (For the bus, subway, etc.) 
  • Community Garden Membership (grow your own eats!)

Everyone has a creative side, buy gifts that correspond with your friend's hobbies.

  • Museum Membership: Support your local museums, and buy friends/family an annual pass
  • Invest in Art: Buy art from local artists, they need the money during the holidays, too!
  • Craft and Design Books
  • DIY Patterns and Guides
  • Starter Craft Kit: A starter box of craft or clothing repair supplies; for the uninitiated
  • Sewing Machine
  • Annual Pass for your local zoo, theatre, craft night, or other creative activities and events

[Special Mention: Homemade Art Kit] Assemble supplies you know the recipient will use. A sketchbook, pencil, kneaded eraser, and a pencil sharpener are the bare bones for a good art kit.


Almost everyone could use one of these "kits" in their lives.

  • First Aid Kit: Ointment, band-aids, bandages, and cold medicine, all in a cool first aid box.

  • Starter Kitchen Kit: Kitchen basics for a cooking beginner.

  • Car Care Kit: Motor oil, filters, wiper blades, floor mats, car washing supplies, etc.

  • Housecleaning Kit: All house cleaning supplies have to be replaced eventually.

  • Pet Supply Kit: Don't buy anyone a pet without a few month's worth of  the pet's supplies.

[Special Mention: Lunch-Packing Kit] insulated tote-style lunch bag, lunch box or bento box, travel thermos. Everyone can save by packing their own lunch when they go out or go to work.)


What are YOUR Suggestions for the Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide?
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15 comments:

  1. Some folks might not like to receive someone else's castoffs for Christmas, but I'm not one of those people! :)

    One thing I always ask for (and give to like-minded people) is used books. I'd much rather receive a stack of old dog-eared paperbacks than a single glossy hardcover bought at retail price.

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  2. Brian: Heck yes- I definitely second that sentiment. My sister-in-law and my brother bought their first house so she's getting a stack of lovely retro interior design books for Christmas.

    I'm doing a post on the controversial issue of "Used Gifts" soon.

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  3. I love to give (and receive) Magazine subscriptions! My parents and older relatives never subscribe to mags themselves. My mom loves Victoria Magazine since I discovered it for her.

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  4. What a great guide! Very practical with lots of room to flap creative wings, if so inclined! Love it, Van!

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  5. Nice compilation of thrifty gift ideas - We also have that issue with people who "look down" on receiving used items, no matter how nice they are. Inlaws don't believe in even setting foot in a thrift (worried about haunted clothes someone died in) and other friends were just brought up believing that it's a matter of pride to not shop in a thrift. Otherwise, we'd get thrifted stuff for everyone!

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  6. A La Modern: Glad I'm not the only one who gets the "But...aren't you scared the CLOTHES ARE HAUNTED?" comments from friends and family members. The same people who've bought used cars, used houses...

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  7. Wonderful ideas! The whole family chips in to get my husband's grandparents a Netflix subscription. It's a huge savings for them and something they enjoy very much!

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  8. Alyssa: Ah-ha, cable! That's a good one I didn't think of. Practical and very enjoyable for the recipient. (I should ask for this. I miss cable, though I don't miss commercials.)

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  9. I LOVE memberships for gifts...for the kids...I mean it's for me too though---free things to keep them busy!

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  10. Good idea, keep the kids busy :D I did consider "annual cost of day care" as a gift but then I saw the prices and my heart stopped.

    I will never have children.

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  11. I love the CSA membership idea!

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  12. Food is clearly my #1 and what I'd most want people to gift me.

    Salted caramels anyone?

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  13. Thanks for linking up to "Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays" at New Nostalgia! Your post was most clicked on, so I will be featuring you tomorrow!

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  14. Amy: That's an honor! Thank you!

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  15. Interesting post and thank you for sharing. There are things here that I have not thought before.Thanks to make such a cool post which is really very well written.will refer a lot of friends about this. Keep blogging.

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I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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