With times getting tougher and tougher we all start to dread Christmas and birthdays and all the other significant events that require purchases beyond our budget for all our loved ones. That's why we've gathered some ideas to help those on a budget still provide a lovely gift without breaking the bank.
The best places to utilise when shopping on a budget are cheap $2 shops. These shops also stock a lot of brand name things these days so it is worth having a hunt. Best department stores are Big W, Kmart, and Best and Less.
Also check out your local opportunity shops. These are especially good for cooking utensils or sourcing material for something out of an old shirt, to name a few. Recycling is environmentally friendly so get hunting.
Leading up to the silly season, buy some cheap pots and seeds from your local $2 store and grow seedlings ready to give at Christmas time. If someone has expressed an interest in plants you have, make some cuttings and put in water on a windowsill so they shoot, then replant in a pot for them.
Put together a gardening pack with items like gardening gloves, trowel, packets of seeds, and hand cream. Google and print some gardening fact sheets to A5 size and mount them on some card relating to the seedlings you have given.
A few nail polishes mixed with a nail file, clippers, toe seperaters, some cotton balls and nail polish remover. Put them all in a small cosmetic bag. Add in a pair of earrings or dressy necklace to bulk out.
The Health Nut/Gym Junkie
Keep an eye out for sales of fitness items, eg boxing gloves or weight sets. Include a copy of a men's health/women's health magazine.
Yoga DVD with yoga ball or mat.
Oil burner with a couple of essential oils or gels.
Gym bag and towel.
Mini cosmetic pack for gym bag could include mini bodywash, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser, hairbrush, hand held mirror, and mini samples of different colognes.
Supply of gym socks, talcum powder, wrist and head sweat bands, gym towel, and face washer.
Radox, deep heat, and massage voucher. Source local Chinese massage places, normally in big shopping centres like Westfield, where you get a neck and shoulder massage for ten minutes for about $10-15.
A mix of songs for them to listen to during their workouts.
Gift basket of cheeses, tea, coffee, nut mix, chocolate covered fruit, and other treats. You can get lots of small packets at supermarkets, or you could buy a full packet and make up gifts for several people. Look in the deli section of supermarkets for cheese. You could also include a cheese board or a small wooden chopping board.
Get in the kitchen and bake. There are lots of recipes available on the internet so get Googling. If you are not a confident baker, a foolproof packet mix is anything by Betty Crocker but in particular, her chocolate cupcakes. They retail for around $5 a packet and make 12 cupcakes. You could get a few different packets and make up several gift packs.
Fruit basket. Include fruit that is seasonal which makes it cheaper for you. Check out your local produce markets for bargains on fresh fruit and vegetables.
A range of mini cookbooks, which can usually be found for a couple of dollars each from supermarkets.
Baking/cooking utensils such as metal bowls, wooden spoon, spice rack, or chopping boards.
Various pastas, pasta sauces, pasta drainer, and herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme.
Various rices, and herbs and spices such as cardamom, turmeric, cumin, saffron, curry powder, and chilli.
Get creative and make your own placemats. Grab some strong washable material from your local spotlight or material store and hem the edges, or add another material for a contrast trim or border. Find some fun iron on or sew on pictures such as flowers, animals, or cartoons.
If you can knit create some scarves or make a blanket or quilt. You can get wool quite cheaply. Look out for it when it is on sale and buy so you can be prepared for upcoming gift giving events.
Cushions, cushion covers
Make your own art canvas. See the Better Homes and Gardens website for some great ideas. You can paint a background colour then use masking tape to divide up the space and paint another colour or two in between and presto modern art. Dont just stick with straight lines, use bowls/ computer disks to create outlines of circles or trace different items such as leaves.
Wicker storage baskets containing a range of nice tea towels, oven mitts, apron and micro fibre cloths, or a bathroom hamper including towels, hand towels, facewasher, liquid soap, body wash, shower caddy and loofah.
Photo frames bought or home made, combined with scented candles and/or oil burner with essential oil or gels.
Quilt/quilt cover, pillows, blankets. Check out department stores for affordable manchester.
Fill a plastic cocktail shaker with small chocolates such as hearts, smarties, or mixed lollies.
Put together sample bottles of alcohol (about $5 each). Always ask in bottle shop if there are promotions as there will often be gifted samples of the promotion, e.g. different samples of a particular vodka.
Scout local markets for interesting unique jewellery. 2012 is a year for chunky pieces; collar-like necklaces, chunky bracelets, and statement rings.
Bottle of favourite spirit and a soft drink that goes with it.
Care package for baby. Include baby bath, lotion, wipes, sample pack of nappies, baby wraps, baby nail scissors, nappy cream, baby shampoo and hand sanitizer. You can get small samples from supermarkets.
Items of baby clothing. Stick to easy garmets such as one piece suits and consider the season coming up to determine winter or summer clothing. If the season you are buying for is a few months away buy bigger sizes eg 00 or 0.
Knit a blanket for the pram or cot. Use baby wool so it doesn't scratch or cause allergic reaction.
Care package for mum including hand cream, moisturising hand wash, hand sanitiser and dry shampoo (for those days she doesn't have time to wash her hair).
Small soft towels and face washers suitable for newborn. Also include hand towels which work perfectly for putting over the shoulder when burping baby.
Cook some recipes that can be frozen such as lasagne, casseroles and bakes, and include some drinks such as cans of Coke or bottles of juice that don't require washing up. Make some sweets such as slices or cake that can be pulled out when people come over to see the baby. The last thing new parents feel like doing is cooking and cleaning.
Offer to come and do their washing or clean their house once a fortnight to help them out.
Offer to watch the baby for a few hours a week at their place so they can catch up on sleep or duck to the shops.
Offer to walk their dog regularly for a few weeks as they get used to their role as parents. Dogs often miss out due to all the sleep deprivation and lack of mobility with new born e.g. too cold or pathways not suitable for pram. Happy exercised dogs mean they will be calmer and non-destructive at home and will see new baby as a positive newcomer.
Ask them for a grocery list and offer to do their shopping for them.
Buy some DVDs . Seasons of TV series are good for those nights when the parents are up with bub. Include some nice coffee/hot chocolate and some snacks.
Laundry package for baby clothes, such as a soaking bucket, washing liquid, fabric softener, stain remover such as napisan and some towels.
Bridal survival pack includes mini toiletries such as deodorant, panadol, lip balm, cotton buds/balls, tissues, band aids, breath mints, toothpick, nail file, eye drops, party feet shoe gels, mini champagne and mini champagne glass.
Groom survival pack includes deodorant, breath mints, mini cologne, Berocca (in case bucks night was night before), mini vodka and shot glass, handkerchie and talcum powder for sweaty hands.