30 Frugal Gift Ideas to Show You Appreciate Someone

A Guest Post by Leo Babauta

What do you get someone if you want to show you appreciate them, but if you don’t have a lot of money to spend?

If you have a lot of money, you can buy just about anything for that person. But for those of us with limited budgets, you’ll have to show that appreciation with a little creativity.

Australian reader Victory recently asked:

I’m in my final year of high school and in about a fortnight we graduate before heading off to exams (in Australia for those who live in Victoria) and so I was wondering if you could perhaps make a post about Teacher gifts. I’m a little low on ideas for showing gratitude to my teachers but I know they deserve something decent for helping me getting into university and such so perhaps you could offer frugal but tasteful advice on gifts other than the usual wine/beer/chocolate?

It’s a great question. Teachers are some of the most selfless people I know, and the work they do benefits us individually and as a society. However, I thought I’d broaden the topic for those who aren’t in school … and talk about frugal gift ideas for showing your appreciation to someone.

Let’s first identify what’s essential: that we show the person who has done something nice for us how much we appreciate them. It’s not essential that the gift be big, or expensive, or anything like that. It’s a token of our appreciation … and let me tell you, no matter how small, the person will likely appreciate the gesture.

The gift should also be appropriate to the person — if it’s personal, it’s likely to mean more. So while wine is always a nice gift, if the person is into other types of drinks (such as coffee), that would make a better gift. So take a moment to consider the person, what they like, and the times you’ve spent together.

So, let’s look at some ideas … some obvious, perhaps, but this list is meant only to spark your own ideas. Also, the definition of “frugal” is broad here … some ideas cost more than others, and some can be made for very little.

  1. Frame a picture of you with them.
  2. Lotions or bath oils.
  3. Journal. A nice journal can be beautiful. It’s one of my favorite gifts.
  4. Gourmet coffee with a personalized mug.
  5. A nice pen.
  6. Photo album or scrapbook, with memories already included.
  7. Homemade cookies you bake yourself.
  8. Or brownies.
  9. Spice gift basket. Get some small jars and fill them with exotic spices.
  10. Gift certificate for the person’s favorite hobby store.
  11. A burned CD with all the person’s favorite songs.
  12. A letter, hand-written on nice paper, from you. Make it heart-felt, with all the reasons you appreciate the person.
  13. A small plant.
  14. A movie pass and a small container of gourmet popcorn kernels.
  15. Soup mixes or cookie mixes in nice clear jars.
  16. Personalized T-shirt.
  17. Stationery and stamps.
  18. IOU booklets, with whatever services you are willing to perform. Obviously only good for someone you know really well.
  19. Knit or crochet something for someone (I can’t do this, but I know people who can).
  20. An “I appreciate you because” jar. Fill a nice jar with slips of different colored paper, each with a reason you appreciate (or love) someone.
  21. Jams and jellies.
  22. Good bread (home-made works great).
  23. Books (my favorite).
  24. A blank recipe book … write some of your favorite recipes on the first few pages.
  25. A keepsake DVD with a video of special moments, edited (and captioned) by you. A slide show presentation with music burned on a DVD works too.
  26. Create your own art (and put it on nice stationery or in a frame). By “art”, I mean a sketch, painting, poem, short story, whatever.
  27. Scented candles.
  28. Make-up set.
  29. Shaving kit.
  30. Box of good tea and a teacup.

Editor’s Note:  Not sure where to start journaling or what it does for you?  Here are 7 Ways Starting a Daily Journal Practice Will Change Your Life.  <<

Brand Yourself…

The quote “Better to bend than to break.” has been attributed to many different authors.  Social Media is a lot like that.  If you don’t believe me, look at how I seemingly lost 1,000 fans the other night, but I keep on going.  What appears to have happened is this…I checked my FB fan page admin stats right as they were apparently rolling out the “Call to Action” button on my page that I have been waiting on.  So I got the button…but somehow a glitch lost me a few fans.  Since I really wanted this button and sometimes get in on a few beta testing opportunities, I don’t mind because it sends the fans over here to sign up for the blog.  On my Vitalize You page, I was given the button even earlier and I set it up as a direct shopping cart for those of you who want to know what products I am using.  See the tab Vitalize You up top here for more.

Next, I am in this beta testing group for Pinterest ads and promoting your pins.  Now when Pinterest first started, way back when, I was a newbie and I made all my own pins from scratch.  I created what I wanted the look of my boards to be at first and didn’t re-pin.  I know, it sounds like I didn’t get it, but I actually wanted my own content to be the foundation of my boards.  I wanted to see what happened.  I remember my first “Geek” board as no one else seemed to have thought of that and my geeky pins were getting really popular.  Next, my inspiring words board still to this day has my most popular viral pin ever and gets pinned all the time.  Finally, I found out people like smoothies…particularly this one I found and wanted to try as “paleo”.  So what it taught me were that there were a few or 10,000 or so people out there like me.

Recently I began doing a lot of research for a company that had not yet hired me.  I like to know who I am going to be working with and what help they might need.  They needed quite a bit of help in the social media department and I had some good ideas, but I don’t think they really understood the value of what social media can do for their business.  I looked deeply at their Twitter, FB fan page, and website and everything was erm old.  Stale.  The links took me to last year’s events.  The FB page actually had some ummm bad spam that I reported to the “FB police”.  And Twitter was vastly, vastly underutilized.  I Googled them.  I spent lots of time studying ways they needed to move forward.  They needed a total social media plan and package.  As I sat shivering through an interview that was nearing 2.5 hours, I could tell they did not quite see the value of spending time interacting with your “fans” on social media.  The story you pitch to others is not just a way to make money, get donors, or help your business grow.  It is in fact, part of who you are.  If we can’t connect to you, as an individual person, if we think you just want our money, then you have, quite simply, lost us.

So when we were nearing the end of this process, I was listening to one of the directors speak about not changing the name, which I strongly agreed with because that’s the “brand” people associate you with…but then she went in another direction about the color.  She didn’t want to be associated with a certain color and I was told to notice that they didn’t have it everywhere.  The problem is, the color is everywhere on the marketing materials…and their page…and their website.  In fact, this color evokes such strong feelings of support that it could actually be part of their current success without her realizing it.

So I didn’t quite understand, and happened to have a few brochures that used this color from her business, and that’s when I knew I definitely lost them…as much as they lost me.  I was no longer interested in this job at all.  Because you see, it was the color pink.  This color represents compassion, nurturing and love. It relates to unconditional love and understanding, and the giving and receiving of nurturing…which in fact happens when you are supporting others who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  They had even cleverly used the pink ribbon in their materials…and merchandise.  So clearly I didn’t see their vision if this color was something that they really didn’t want to be associated with.  So trust me when I say brand yourself and tell your story.

right_people

Jack the Ripper…

Some years back, I traveled to London with a college group.  We were actually studying Children’s Literature in England; however, we got to do some additional excursions.  On reflection of one of the most famous London Walks, The “Jack the Ripper” walk, I wrote this:

It was your typical foggy night. Standing outside the pub in Whitechapel, I decided to have my friend walk me home. We talked about ordinary things like the weather and the latest news. We both worked late shifts and were tired. As we walked, the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand on end. I couldn’t say what was causing it, just a sense something was off.  My friend started talking about the latest girl who was found murdered nearby and what a shame it was that the girl would not see her lover again.  Perhaps that’s what did it…the mention of a lover.  I knew first hand who the girl was because she kept a room next to me.  I glanced around casually, and noticed that the streets were deserted.  The time was pretty late or early in the morning depending on your view.  I looked at the dirty cobbled streets and made a quick decision.  I pretended a rock was in my shoe and told my friend to stop a minute. Carefully taking my shoes off, I threw one at him and asked him to have a look for the rock. While he was busy catching the shoe, I made a break for it.  I knew how far it was to find the nearest “Bobbie” and I also knew who the girls’ lover was.  I would not be next Jack.  Not this time.

 

It was just meant to be a teaser if you will.  A short little piece on how someone would have felt if they figured out who the murderer was seconds before they realized they were in danger.  Naturally, when I just heard moments ago, that they believe to have identified the killer after all these years, I was intrigued.  Read more here if you are interested:  Jack the Ripper Unmasked

It was only a mater of time…give or take a 126 years.

 

hidden truth

Naiveté…

I like this definition:  having or showing a lack of experience, judgement, or information; credulous.  She’s so naive she believes everything she reads.  A synonym that was used was simple

If we put things in that context, it is easier to move forward.  I often see very public Facebook statuses about people.  While I personally don’t care, not my circus, not my monkeys, I find it easier to ignore said people.  The old me would get drawn into something akin to a verbal match.  Always having the last word…this me has to have no words.  None.

If you come at it from the standpoint of no one on this earth has been in your place and has had to make your decisions, then you start to realize the person trying to get you to see things from their point of view is basically naive.  How can you see things from their point of view?  Quite frankly, you can’t.

Of course there is a degree of empathy, but people who continually argue with others about their views baffle me.  I see no point.  I could use religion, race, or homosexuality as examples, but I’m not.  People were raised a certain way.  They have in their tool box whatever they learned up until about the age of 18, then it was time to go forth and assimilate this knowledge.

Some people have the capability to decipher knowledge and add it to their bank of learning.  Others use the “I was raised this way” line of thought.  I’ve seen it in teaching and I’ve seen it in society.  Haters gonna hate.  I know, I know, but think about it.  If you remember my blog post from a while back, I mention a man who changed the lives of people.  It was some very Narrow-minded folks.  Feel free to read it again and ponder what can happen when you open your heart instead of your mouth…you do not have to have the last word.

Forgive

On being friends…

I saw some photos pop up in my news feed which reminded me I needed to message my friend again.  I had been trying to get together with her since February.  I saw the last date of my message was May 1st saying I wanted to catch up.  There were several messages before that as well.  Me asking her if she had time to get together for her birthday, and other things.  The last date night had been in December or January and we had a really good time.  We went to a local restaurant and stayed longer than we planned.  We laughed until tears came out of the corner of our eyes.  Every time we get together as couples, we have an amazing time.  I even mentioned it would be great to do a couples weekend trip.

Let me back up a few years though…eleven and a half to be precise.  When I had my two girls 18 months apart I thought my social life was pretty much over because I was not sure how to manage a toddler and breastfeeding a new baby.  I thought I would probably be stuck in the house until I weaned my baby.  After 6 months of that, I could no longer take that my favorite thing in the world was a trip to Target, because it meant seeing people.  I didn’t care if I had to figure out how to get the horrendous double stroller out and the little carrier to fit in there by myself.  I had recovered from the c-section by that point even though I still had pain where I had been cut (another story).  I had this brilliant idea to set up a playgroup and advertise it for free in our neighborhood letter.

MOMS poured in.  I got about 25 e-mails or so at first.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had the first meeting at our “clubhouse” and that’s when I met ladies who would be life savers for me at that point in my life.  After a few weeks of this clubhouse madness, a few dropped off.  That was great.  We were left with a core group at this point and then there were about 9 of us.  I decided to do a rotation of houses schedule.  Every single Tuesday at 10 a.m. we met at someone’s house.  We got close.  We laughed.  We cried.  We survived.  We were the most eclectic group ever and the stories I could tell…well, I loved every single minute of it.  When we started falling apart for one reason or another, I was extremely sad.  Some moved due to the military.  One left her husband and then didn’t talk to us.  A few of us remained. 

When my closest two friends from the group moved away, I was sad.  Very sad, but I knew it was going to happen.  This was before the “rise” of Facebook, so I know I sound old, but we had e-mail.  I was happy to have that.  Years later one of those friends magically moved back to the same area.  I was ecstatic!  We could get together again like old days.  Time melted away when I saw them.  Then yesterday, I got a message (I took out names):

Hi, I am working my way through letting everyone know (that doesn’t know already) we are leaving tomorrow. We have Sold our house, fingers crossed it all goes through. It all happened much quicker than we thought.  Husband is working more and more in Europe so it made sense to move back. I think it is now or never with the girls…. I am really sorry I didn’t get to catch up with you before we left but we just had so many things to do. The dog left today she was sent on the plane this morning. I have your details and when I get my new email address I will send it too you. So if you ever make that trip over then maybe you could pop over and see us.

So if for some reason you are reading this friend, the reason the only word I typed back was “wow” is because this hurts.  I got a Facebook message.  A message.  I want that to really sink in.  I got a Facebook message telling me you sold your house and the only reason you sent it is because I sent you a message asking for another date night soon.  I feel like an awesome friend right about now.  So girlfriends reading this, if you have a friend who values your time together, please make time for them.  I know that your children’s lives are busy.  I know that there is soccer, swimming, field hockey, ballet, gymnastics, cheering and whatever else you have your kids in.  But if you have become so busy with “life” that you no longer have time for friends, one day you will regret it.

So when I go to my kitchen window, I will look at the little pot you gave me when you left the first time and think of our time together with a smile…

Friendship

 

 

Don’t stop…believing

If life were a person, I would slap him or her.  Hard.  So let me back up.  Friday night I went out to chat with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  My buddy is an awesome photographer and has worked on some pretty cool things out west and was in town.  I’d put his link here except for the fact that he is super private, and I didn’t tell him I was writing this.  Ha.  Anyway, the night before I was talking about all my old friends and it occurred to me that most of them were guys.  We were like Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch…and we rode our bikes around, well bicycles, but still.  Later on, in high school, some had cars and perhaps one in particular was old enough to pass for 21 at the 7-11.

Everyone has that one friend, ha, who perhaps buys things like ohhh I don’t know, Boone’s Farm maybe.  Not judging the 80’s or 90’s are you?  No.   Anyway, so we were sitting around telling stories and it was nice.  It was nice to see how we can change, but remain the same at heart.  I always knew they were good guys and so when I heard one of them was coming into town, I knew I couldn’t wait until the next time.  A lot can happen through the years.  As we got a round of beverages, we raised our pints to a friend who was no longer with us.  We talked a bit about how we were still kind of mad at him for not reaching out (I actually wrote about this when it happened last year).  We lost a good man to a fight he could have beat…depression was the enemy and if we had known, surely we could have changed the tide on that battlefield.

Don’t stop believing that other people care about you.

So this year my brother’s circle of friends have learned about that as well.  Yesterday, my brother lost a friend to hopelessness and surely her friends are saying the same thing.  It’s too fresh right now, but in a year her friends will probably still be mad.  Her friends will be telling the stories of things they did.  And her friends will look at each other and make the kind of eye contact that says, I’m glad you’re here friend to talk about this with me.  Don’t hide how you feel when this happens.  Get it out.  Reach out to who is left behind.  And don’t stop believing that your life is worth fighting for at all costs.  Don’t end your chapter right as your luck was about to change.  DON’T.  Because your friends will be lifting a pint to you after all and saying how much they miss you.  Instead of that, be there with them.  Clinking the glass and saying I am so glad I have you all.  I am glad I called you that day.

Cherish

Two lies…

A few things…remember that post where I talked about being Scorpio?  You know the one where I basically said the worst thing you can do to a Scorpio is lie to them or try to manipulate them?  Yeah, that’s the one.  Well, I really wish people walked around with those pop up bubbles above their heads.  For example, mine would say, “Don’t lie to her.  It isn’t worth it.  She knows the truth.”  It would make life easier and simpler if we could be honest.  At least, I think so.

I know a few guys who might have some pop up bubbles referring to a particular cleansing product…that way their future girlfriends already know.  It just really would help some sisters out.  That’s all I’m saying.  Perhaps you know some people and have already thought of what their bubbles would say.  “bat-shit crazy” “liar” “call the police”  These come to mind as being helpful.  Anyway, I guess life is a gamble.  You gamble with friendship.  You gamble with trust.  You even gamble on love.  Sometimes, you get lucky.  Then, there are times, you think it’s about to go your way and you lose it all.

I stay in a state of mild irritation with society most of the time.  Why?  Because I expect more.  My husband tells me that’s my problem.  I have come to expect that people are basically going to do the right thing, and then, when they don’t, I feel let down.  He keeps very few friends close.  He actually expects the opposite.  He expects people are going to let him down, and when they don’t, he is pleasantly surprised.  Every time I make new friends, I hope that they will be people who would get my back like I’d get theirs.  I always hope they won’t let me down…that they would take up for me if needed.  Because the bottom line is, I’d do it for them.  And they know that.  So tonight, I will release the irritation I have been holding and grasp onto this one thought…people are not always going to be able to give me the truth.  It’s ok.  They won’t always have my back.  But the true friends, you know the ones, those are the ones who are worth staying up for.  Those are the ones I would go to jail for.  I hope I never find myself in that situation, but you know what I mean.

LiesEvery lie is two lies — the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.

Save

Save

Irritation…

A few things…remember that post where I talked about being Scorpio?  You know the one where I basically said the worst thing you can do to a Scorpio is lie to them or try to manipulate them?  Yeah, that’s the one.  Well, I really wish people walked around with those pop up bubbles above their heads.  For example, mine would say, “Don’t lie to her.  It isn’t worth it.  She knows the truth.”  It would make life easier and simpler if we could be honest.  At least, I think so.

I know a few guys who might have some pop up bubbles referring to a particular cleansing product…that way their future girlfriends already know.  It just really would help some sisters out.  That’s all I’m saying.  Perhaps you know some people and have already thought of what their bubbles would say.  “bat-shit crazy” “liar” “call the police”  These come to mind as being helpful.  Anyway, I guess life is a gamble.  You gamble with friendship.  You gamble with trust.  You even gamble on love.  Sometimes, you get lucky.  Then, there are times, you think it’s about to go your way and you lose it all.

I stay in a state of mild irritation with society most of the time.  Why?  Because I expect more.  My husband tells me that’s my problem.  I have come to expect that people are basically going to do the right thing, and then, when they don’t, I feel let down.  He keeps very few friends close.  He actually expects the opposite.  He expects people are going to let him down, and when they don’t, he is pleasantly surprised.  Every time I make new friends, I hope that they will be people who would get my back like I’d get theirs.  I always hope they won’t let me down…that they would take up for me if needed.  Because the bottom line is, I’d do it for them.  And they know that.  So tonight, I will release the irritation I have been holding and grasp onto this one thought…people are not always going to be able to give me the truth.  It’s ok.  They won’t always have my back.  But the true friends, you know the ones, those are the ones who are worth staying up for.  Those are the ones I would go to jail for.  I hope I never find myself in that situation, but you know what I mean.

LiesEvery lie is two lies — the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.

On being Scorpio…

Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so Scorpio.  Here are some things about being a Scorpio which I find to be true.

Do not try to manipulate a Scorpio.  They can smell it a mile away.  This is so me.  I know what you are trying to do.  Just tell me the truth.  Here is what I need…it works so much better that way.

Scorpios are tenacious and very stubborn, so much so, that if you think they have finally given up, think again.  They’re coming back with a plan B.  Yes!  I love this truth.  It’s always time for plan B, and C.

You have little to no patience with the superficial sort as a Scorpio.  Bingo.  I’m not talking about wanting to look good so you feel good here.  I’m talking about needing to hide you and your 1,000 new profile photos.

HARD truth…being able to know what’s happening without anyone telling you by just fitting the pieces together.    This one makes it very hard on us because when you lie about what’s going on, we know.  We JUST know.

Introspective and independent.  A Scorpio often withdraws to handle problems, stress, and other life drama ALONE.  We have to do this our way.  Period.  You either understand or you don’t.  For us, there is no middle ground.

Once I deem you as untrustworthy, you become a mere acquaintance.  Never again a friend.  Very, very true.  You will also see less of me.  It’s just the way it is.

Number one sign of a Scorpio, they can smell a lie a mile away.  Beware.  Scorpios tend to be excellent judges in character.  They can see and hear what you do not say.  It is that point, that one point, that you must remember in ALL your dealings with a true Scorpio.

>> A fun little quiz if you wan to try it later.  <<

I am intense, loyal, demanding, loving, truthful, passionate, sensitive, and at times, emotional.  All of this leads up to fun times.  I actually like other Scorpios because once we have had our say, we are all good.  Most of the Scorpios I have met would rather tell you what’s on their mind than tell you a lie.  I love talking to other Scorpios because we seek the bottom line.  Don’t make up some fluff to smooth things over…we see right through it.

I can’t go back and change the past, but I can keep moving forward.  I don’t mind my hermit stages in life, because they are needed for growth.  I am slowly coming out of my last hermit stage, and I don’t regret any choices made while there.

If this sounds like you and you’d like to know more about the work that I do and how I help others move forward in life, feel free to check out my online catalog here.  I would love to “see” more of people who really get it <3

Move Forward

 

 

Motivational Monday…

I started thinking about the ultimate motivator.  The thing that everyone wants at the end of the day…happiness.  If the word “money” flashed in your head as you read the first line, well, think again.  Don’t get me wrong, in my head my conversation with money goes a little like this:

Mr. Simms (money): Do you have any experience?

Robbie (me): No, sir, I have no experience, but I’m a big fan of money.   I like it, I use it, I have a little.  I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator.   I’d like to put more in that jar.  That’s where you come in.

Fine, so that isn’t really me, but I do use that line from The Wedding Singer.  You see, I want my kids to be happy.  However, I remind myself that more money does NOT equal more happiness contrary to popular belief.  You might be thinking about this, and how you would be happy if you could only do X,Y, and Z…which involves money.  I’m going to break off here with a short story.

Years ago, I taught at a private school for a brief time.  After seeing so much poverty, it was extremely difficult for me to work in this environment and see the peacocks walking around with their plumage on display.  The cars, the houses, the clothes, the donations of FAKENESS started to get to me like I was an extra in Jerry Maguire, but the sad thing was, this was their idea of real life.  One of the kids came to school in clothes that hardly fit him.  You might be surprised.  His hair was never combed, his shoes might be a little tight, and this, ohhh this, was something I knew about from my previous school.  His father was working on wife number five I believe.  The babysitter, I mean “nanny” brought him to school.  I was told that by all means necessary I had to be nice to this father as he was a big supporter source of money for the school.  Ha.  They really didn’t know who they were dealing with, did they?  I was nice.  Very, very nice, when I asked him about how much time he spent with his kids.  I was nice when I mentioned this child bought lunch every single day, and was still hungry, so perhaps he wasn’t getting enough at breakfast.  I was nice when I mentioned his work was sloppy as he did it all by himself and no one checked it.  And I was extremely nice, when I said, please read with your son every night.  After two years of being at this school, I could take it no longer.  I will have to tell you about the other things that went on at this school later, but needless to say, I realized that the kind of money these people had, the kind I will likely never see, did strange things to people.

So happiness my friends, is what I want you to focus on today.  But if you need money, I will leave you with this thought:

Borrow