Thursday, December 23, 2010

Inexpensive Gift Giving

A cute little birdie told me the other day that she has read an awful lot about Trader Joe's scones, and that she might be ready to read about something new.  So I think maybe today I'll write about gifts that don't cost a lot, in case anyone out there is trying to figure out a last minute hostess gift.  The trick is shopping ahead of time and using a few basics.  This does lead to the issue of hoarding (bad) vs. stockpiling (good).   I'm constantly wondering where the line is.

Here's the basic philosophy I'm going to cover today:

1.  Shop year-round at the dollar spot or wherever else you get good deals (I generally don't keep a gift stockpile, but I do keep a pile of $1 items.  Anything more expensive and it just ends up being money spent, sitting in my closet forever).

2.  Dress it up a little.

3.  Creatively gift wrap and don't blow $5 on a bag for goodness sake.

Walmart always has an ornament or two that doesn't break the bank.  I'm not one to spend $10 on an ornament for anyone, myself included.  This glittery church was a whopping $1.  But pleeeaaase don't give it away with that ugly tag stuck to it.  I don't even like the string for hanging it.  Cut it all off!! and put a pretty little ribbon on it.

Doesn't that look so much better?  It's all about selling it ... special details make it special.
Here are some notebooks I bought at Michaels Crafts $1 aisle.  This is a funny thing about me:  When I'm standing in the aisle looking at monogram letters, I immediately get Alzheimer's and can't remember who I'm buying for or their initials.  If you don't want to get Monogram Alzheimer's, get a teeny notebook to keep in your purse always and write the names of your friends you are looking to buy for.  Or put it on a sticky note phone app.
I wrapped a little bit black seam binding around it.  Made it a bit more special.
I wanted to use all 3 colors of tissue paper, but using whole sheets was too much.  So I used my pinking shears to cut wide strips.  I put the gift on 3 strips (not stacked evenly - see photo above with notebook) and bunched it up.   I have also been known to rip strips of tissue paper.  This saves tissue paper by not using too much, and makes it a little more special.
I don't go out and buy a bunch of wrapping stuff.  I give gifts in lunch sacks all the time. You can buy red or white lunch sacks at Target.  I love those.  I also bought a bag of tags from Office Depot.  Stamp some initials on the tag.  Stick it on with a clothes pin.  Stamp "Wish" on a ticket.  These are all things I already had in the craft pile. 

Here is a birdy ornament I used on the outside of the plain paper sack.  Great! You can also see from this photo that I am a hurricane in a craft room.  Not great!
Tags are something you have permission to hoard.  You will always be able to use them.
Here's another way you can use storage tote bags.  I found these at Target dollar spot clearance.  They weren't even a dollar!  I stood there forever thinking, "I want to buy every single one but do I have any business hoarding that many totes?"   It's a constant conversation for me.  I didn't buy every one, but I did buy a healthy stack of them.  I use them to organize my cupboards, but they also make great wine bags.  I have a stockpile of ribbon I buy for $1 and a bag of funky tissue.  The plain black tote needs a little pizazz.

I do love wine, but really know nothing about buying it.  Here's what you can do if you have the same problem:  ask the guys at the store.  Don't be shy.  The Wegmans by our house has a wine section.  One day I found out they have a wine manager, and I worked up the courage to ask him what inexpensive wine he recommends.  I thought he would look down on me.  I thought he would be wine snobby.  He was so unbelievably cool, and took me through the entire wine section and told me all the fabulous $5 and under wine he loves to drink.  The guys at Trader Joe's will also tell you what fabulous cheap wine they have.  Not a snob in the bunch.
Wrap that sucker up.  If you have it stockpiled, you can throw this together last minute.  No shopping every single time you go to someone's house.  How much time does that save?!!  And money?!!
I wanted to add just a bit more to this gift wrap, so I dug a couple ornaments out of my stockpile (Sorry, Mrs. Brookes, I bought this W after I gave you the gift or this baby would be all yours).
I bought a bunch of these reindeer at the dollar store and I use them to decorate my banister garland.  I just ripped that sucker right off the banister.  That's how I roll.  If you get a gift from me, it could be straight from my banister.
And check this out ... my new Christmas tree stand urn, courtesy of Anythingology (go here for a tutorial).  Thanks Shannon.
Now I'm off to Trader Joe's.
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