Inexpensive and Thoughtful Gift Ideas

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Getting and giving gifts is one of humanity’s oldest traditions. Love. Joy. Gratitude. Condolence.  Whether you give or receive a gift, it tends to be a heartwarming or thoughtful experience.

There are three general factors when conceiving a gift idea:

  • Who is the gift for?
  • What is the occasion?
  • How much should it cost?

We want to give our friends, family, loved ones, and significant others the moon, but unfortunately, we’re all on some sort of budget. However, the lack of finances shouldn’t make a gift droller, instead bringing out the creative juices that many of us have and putting them to good use, as we hunt for or come up with some inexpensive ways to bring joy into the hearts of others. We can even give the gift of personal time spent with a loved one—that counts, right?

Not a creative person? That’s okay! Here are some suggestions for you, sorted into categories of the people in our lives that matter the most, and for a variety of occasions.

Grandad, Grandpa, Grandfather, Papa, Pop-Pop, Pee-Paw, the Colonel

  • A Whittling Kit (a small piece of wood and pocket knife)
  • A scrapbook full of ugly pictures, complete with you in a full diaper and Grandpa with hair on his head, changing said diaper
  • John Wayne movies for the older Grandfather (‘Rio Bravo’, ‘Stagecoach’, ‘The Searchers’ ‘The Longest Day’, ‘True Grit’ old)
  • Jeff Bridges movies for the younger Grandfather, featuring young and old Jeff Bridges (‘The Last Picture Show’, ‘Starman’, ‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘Crazy Heart’, ‘Hell or High Water’, ‘True Grit’ new)
  • Reminding him that you are way easier to deal with than your mother or father when they were your age
  • Quietly watching sports on TV, only speaking to agree with him that “The game just isn’t the same anymore”
  • Taking his old letterman to the cleaners and getting it patched up, so he gets nostalgic and happy

Grandma, Granny, Grammy, Grams, Gam-Gam, G-Ma, Me-Maw, Granny Dearest

  • That picture of her from your parent’s wedding “where her hair is a mess” that she hates
  • Agreeing to be nice to your siblings for the entirety of the family get-together
  • A pack of Lucky Strike, American Spirit, or Marlboro Ultra-Light 100s for her 4:00 pm smoke break
  • Seagram’s and 7-Up highball, also for the 4:00 pm smoke break
  • Offering several times to help with dinner and setting the table (Don’t worry, she’ll say no, but you offered)
  • Bring up tattoos and the fact that you don’t have any, and listen to her about tattoos being “trashy”
  • Before she catches wind, finish making her favorite dessert and give her a small, wallet-sized picture of her husband (The Colonel) from when he was a young man. She’ll cry and tell you how much she loves you and misses when you were a baby

Brother, Hermano, Mon Frere, Bro, Little Bro, Big Brother, Bane of your existence

  • Whether he’s 8 or 18, he probably likes Batman or Spider-man: comics, movies, action figures, stickers, t-shirts
  • Whether he’s 8 or 18, tell him that Chelsea Cooper likes him, when she probably (?) doesn’t—view mixed results
  • Give him one of your old shirts, but not the one he’s super jealous of, instead, one that he hates
  • Even though he picks on you, tell your parent’s that he made it home on-time; remind him of an atonement of your choosing
  • Treat him to the movies or a movie night at the house with ice cream and share stories of your different, yet, oddly similar adventures

Sister, Hermana, Ma Soeur, Sis, Little Sister, Big Sis, Sissy, Queen of the Damned

  • Put the Toilet seat down; Keep it down
  • Let her use the shower first
  • Leave her alone—at home and in public
  • Don’t show any of her boyfriend’s old embarrassing pictures of her
  • Get her a Starbucks gift card and tell her that you’ll be there for her no matter what

Dad, Father, Pops, Daddy, the Old Man, the Paterfamilias, the Guy that Grounded You for Good Reason

  • A spatula with the logo of his favorite football team cut onto it
  • A case of Busch Light and a “Cuban” cigar (get it from a gas station, he’ll still smoke it)
  • A movie featuring Tom Hanks or Bill Murray
  • Letting him continue to beat you in a pick-up game
  • Thanking him for the roof over your head, the food you’ve eaten, and putting you through school; hug or pat on the back

Mom, Mother, Moms, Momma, Mommy, Ma, the Woman that says, “Don’t Tell your Father” a lot

  • Getting her (literally) anything will make her tear up and tell you that she loves you, so you’re in the clear
  • Assuring her that your father is just as handsome as Colin Firth; he’s not.
  • That one book all the other Moms are reading
  • A picture of George Clooney
  • A lock of Bret Michaels’ hair (Most difficult gift to obtain on list)
  • Reassuring her that you’re eating, everything is fine, and that she did a great job as a parent

Husband, Wife, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Babe, Baby, the Apple of Your Eye, Your Soulmate, Love-Bug, your Better Half

  • Write a cheesy letter about how much they mean to you, whether you’ve been married for 25 years or have been dating for a few months
  • Put on your song and slow-dance like no one is watching, even if no one is watching
  • A cheap bottle of wine and Battleship—take a drink when a ship is sunk
  • A T-shirt with the ugliest picture of yourself on it, so they can embarrass you whenever they like in public
  • Their favorite candy and a shoulder rub after a 40 hour work week
  • Promising to dress like whatever Disney Prince she wants for Halloween
  • Promising to dress like whatever Star Wars/Star Trek/Comic Book character he wants for Halloween
  • Promising to dress the dog/cat up like the sidekick to your Halloween costume
  • A brief, yet passionate, kiss and a smile

It is possible that some of these gifts might not fit your style, and that’s okay! You’re brightening the future for your loved ones across America. You love and care about these people and they feel the same way about you, so don’t worry—they’ll love whatever you decide to concoct for them for whatever the occasion entails.

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