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.  <<

Top 4 Biggest Weight Loss Hurdles

What are the 4 biggest weight loss hurdles during the holiday season?

Funny thing…people think that they put on weight during the holidays more so than at any other time; however, it’s not the holidays that really do it.  It’s actually making a plan, having a goal, and sticking to it.  But we will get to that part.

The first one is actually Loss of Motivation and I get that reason from clients well, lots.  At first, it’s like a special thing.  You are super pumped to start this journey, but slowly you let your mind take over and put you back where you started.  Negative Ghost Rider.  Abort.  Abort.  It’s cold.  It’s raining.  I saw a big piece of the best flan ever and had to put it in my mouth.  <<< that one was mine.  Anyway, I have been there.  What has helped me to stay consistent for over 2 years?  I will tell you.

  • I lay out my workout clothes (yoga for me) the night before.
  • I make sure my water bottle is ready to go and clean.
  • I get to wear the pants at the back of the closet.  I remind myself that.
  • I got rid of the pants that I had saved that were the “big” pants.  No lie.
  • I use a dry erase marker and write on my bathroom mirror where I can see it.  Daily.

Number two is “I’m too  busy for that.”  This one really gets on my nerves the most I think.  It’s not that I don’t understand, but I remember how I felt when I was at my worst.  My stomach was bloated, I was suffering from leaky gut, and I had tried everything including a personal trainer who kicked my ass to no avail.  The real reason you say you are too busy, is what if it fails?  That’s right.  I know your secret.  Being scared is part of the process, so please be honest with yourself.  Sometimes, you have to go back to the starting point.  But if you are working with a trainer, wellness coach or anyone else, check in with them and be honest about what you are afraid of.  Be specific.  Put it in words.  I opened up with the person who asked me to come back to yoga and I specifically said “I am worried that I am in so much pain that I won’t be able to do these things.”  And you know what, I wasn’t able to do everything.  And I lived.  I got better, stronger, and then one day, the 5 people closest to me throughout my yoga training saw me do something I couldn’t do before and it was a great feeling.  I didn’t let my excuses get in the way.  Side note:  I also had to come up with my own holistic wellness program in order for it to work since I knew more about autoimmune than who I initially signed up to work with.  I did have to create something that didn’t exist, but I didn’t give up.  Each and every time something didn’t work, I started back at what was working and went from there.

Number three is actually eating out.  I know that you love to go out to eat.  So do I!  Here’s how we can make it work while still maintaining your goals.

  • Research the restaurant menu ahead of time.  Look at the salads, appetizers and small plates and see if there are healthy options.
  • If you can’t find anything healthy, pick a new place.  If that is not an option because a function is scheduled there, call the place and ask about broiling or baking items that are on the menu instead.
  • Split a meal that is huge…they are almost always larger portion sizes!
  • Ask for salad dressing on the side, or better yet, ask for oil and vinegar so you can do it and you know what’s in it.
  • Skip the dessert if at all possible and ask for black coffee.

The last hurdle this season is going to be parties.  Wooo-hoo.  I love me a good party.  Yes, I just said that.  Say it in a southern accent and you might be close to how I sound.  Anyway, just so you know even I have a hard time with this one.  This is difficult.  Hugely difficult, but I have some great friends who are aware of my food sensitivities.  Some non-tacky things you can do to make your life easier at parties include:

  • Make your own snacks to bring and share.  Oh what did you bring to share?  Ohhh, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo pumpkin cookies says me.  No one eats them but me.  Winning!  I get to take them home too.
  • Bring your own rice crackers and humus or veggies, etc.
  • Call your hostess, maybe less tacky, but you can say I am super excited to come to the holiday extravaganza at your beautiful house!  You sure make the best food.  What’s on the menu this year?  <<< sounding tacky no more.  Now you are complimenting and fishing at the same time.  Ask if you can bring something while casually mentioning your lifestyle change.  She will want a lifestyle change too and you won’t feel left out then.

So these are my tips to you this year.  Carry on my gluten-free, paleo, sugar-free, possibly vegan warriors.  Whoever you are, you can do this!!!


powerNew ^^^ linked to 4 Weeks to Wellness


Alternatives to tech for your kids…

I suppose, to a certain degree, I am old school.  We have over complicated things in a big way.  Take Facebook for example.  I was having a conversation with my daughters last night and I said, you are not going to have Instagram, Twitter, FB or anything else for a long time.  Here is the reason why, if you are not on there, you can’t be bothered with the mess that’s there.  It simply doesn’t apply to you.  No liking photos, no bullying messages, etc.  All the stuff that’s out there designed to be anonymous like that Kik messenger.  I know parents who let their kids do these things without even understanding that some random old dude can be sending nasty messages to their young kids.  Like Snapchat or Vine.  And then I found this article explaining more…I didn’t even know about!!!  7 dangerous Apps that parents need to know about

What happened to go out and PLAY???  Is anyone else wondering about that?  I mean let’s think about this, what did we have to be afraid of?  I guess plenty, but they couldn’t find us anywhere at anytime and talk to us through devices.  That’s just plain creepy.  So here are some alternatives if you are wondering what we do ova here and how we survive.  Hahaha.  Okay, but seriously.  I was telling another mom yesterday about this life-saving pin I found a few years ago.  Seriously.  Then it occurred to me that I should pass it on.  All it was, get ready for this, was making Barbie clothes out of unmatched socks!!!  It was like genius.  It saved my kids from boredom and they got back into Barbies by designing clothes all the time.  Of course my table downstairs is covered in glitter glue, sequins, and Project Runway reject parts, but hey, I don’t really go down there anyway.  It’s the kids craft area for a reason.

We did actually loom potholders y’all…for a while.  That was a thing I brought back from my childhood.  Of course, we have moved onto those crazy loop and loom bracelets.  So we have a variety of craft materials available at any time, but I also got into this saving toilet paper rolls for a while thing.  I don’t know why, but we go through, ahem, tons of TP.  I don’t have like tons of ideas over here, ok, but here is my board:  Kids Crafts on Pinterest   You can find me over there.  Because I am not a mommy blogger per say, I tend to pin things I use that might interest my readers.  I have more recipes than anything else…and geeky things.

Bored games.  I mean board games are also used occasionally.  What can I say, I remember them being more fun.  DARK TOWER was revolutionary back in the day.  And scary.  Look what I found to show you!!  How to Play Dark Tower.  Oh. My. Gosh.  That sound would give me nightmares.  I remember trying to go into ruins…the creaky door.  The brigands.  Why was I scared??  This game was so awesome.  Watching the little demo doesn’t do it justice.  Sigh.  I am not old.  I am vintage.  Who made that a thing?  Vintage.  So we ummm have this game still.  Plus another one from my husband’s childhood that I had never heard of.  It’s called Stop Thief.  I am linking you to E-Bay if you want to check this out.  Mind you, we have it and the girls love it.  They have been playing it for a few years…so ages 10 and up are fine.

Card games are also fun over here.  One the kids like is called Gubs, and they even get their grandfather to play.   We have the other one mentioned in this link called Sleeping Queens too.  They can play these with little to no arguing.  So mother approved.  Of course, we have good ole’ Uno.  You have to have that somewhere.  If you don’t, go get it.  It’s still a fun one to play even though we only had one version and there are so many out there now it’s not funny.

What I would love to see is that parents are teaching their children how to interact with other children face to face.  Using a variety of games to also teach rules such as taking turns, sharing, you don’t always get your way, and don’t be a sore loser.  These are real life skills…I know, I was a teacher.  You could tell the children who had interaction with games, either video or “old school”, because they were patient when I told them how to play the learning games.  When they picked up the skill, they could in turn teach others to play the game at the table.  The children who lost and cried, gave up, got mad, or snatched game pieces away were really, quite frankly, used to getting their way.  That does not happen out in the real world.  Oh man, you cried after they fired you and you got your job back plus a raise?  Awesome.  Or you learned strategy by playing games…you learn to wait for the other players move.  Sometimes, it took a completely blank face to wait it out, but it worked.  So I know it’s “Motivational Monday” over here on the blog, but I hope this helped some folks with ideas for the holidays. 


Spending time


The Robin Hood Philosophy…

As it gets closer to the holidays, I don’t know about you, but I find myself daydreaming about ways to make extra money.  I came up with one of the best ideas ever, and I’m sure this will go over really well in the workplace.  I’m going to call it the Robin Hood Philosophy.  You know how Robin Hood stole money from the rich to give to the poor, yes of course you do, well my idea is even better.

Person A gets to work at least 30 minutes early and is always on time for every meeting.  He/she volunteers for things and helps out when needed.  When the boss is walking down the hall and stops Person A to ask for a favor, he/she does not hesitate to do what is asked.  This type of person works very hard and does not expect recognition as they feel like they are doing the best job possible.

Person B gets to work 5 or 10 minutes late on a regular basis.  He/she takes long lunch breaks even though the boss has mentioned several times to all staff that lunch needs to be completed within a certain amount of time or it looks bad on all staff.  This person leaves whenever they feel like it and tries to avoid making eye contact with any authority figure in case they get asked to do something more.  They can be seen walking around work at all times of the day as if their job is “mall walking”.

Now comes the cool part of the plan.  Person A works really hard and still can’t seem to make ends meet.  Person B plays everyday at work.  At the end of the month, the Robin Hood Philosophy would magically be enacted.  Person A would end up with more money in their check due to the wonderful job they do.  Person B would be paid for what they really did, thus leaving them feeling “robbed”.  I personally feel like this plan would go over well in all workplaces and I think you should suggest it to your boss today.  Who knows…you might even get a raise.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  ~Thomas Edison