I’m happy to say that my friends and I no longer buy each other gifts for holidays or birthdays. That may sound a bit scrouge-like on my part, but I’m unbelievably relieved by this fact. It means I no longer need to spend time and energy searching for the perfect gift only to find out that my friend really doesn’t love it as much as I thought she would.
Instead most of my friends and I simply meet up for lunch or dinner and I pay for their meal. Depending on where we eat a meal can be the same price or even more expensive then a gift I might have purchased, so in the end no one gets jipped and we get to spend quality time together.
Don’t get me wrong, I still buy my friends presents, but I don’t buy them for any particular occasion. I only buy them if I happen to be somewhere and find something I know they will love. I’m not sure why, but it seems much easier to buy gifts for people when there isn’t a deadline looming ahead.
With holiday and birthday gift giving out of the way I find that most of my gifts are now targeted towards special occasions like baby showers, bridal showers and weddings. My friends and family threw me an amazing baby shower last summer and I was blessed with a room full of gifts for my little boy.
Since that time I’ve gone to a couple of different baby showers and I noticed my gift giving varies quite widely. I typically spend at least $100 on really close friends and family members, $50 to $75 on close friends and $35 to $50 on just about everyone else.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve for saving on baby showers. First, I buy a lot of baby items on sale. If a friend registers at Babies-R-Us or another big box store I’ll search for 20% off coupons and keep an eye out of online sales. If I can’t find a coupon I’ve been known to buy one for 99 cents from eBay. I also find it helpful to search for good deals on discounted gift cards from places like eBay or Plastic Jungle. This helps me buy a more expensive gift off the registry without spending the full retail price for it. I follow the same procedure when purchasing wedding gifts. If a friend registers at Macy’s I’ll wait for special sale days or search for coupons in the newspaper.
Because I have so many friends expecting these days I’ve also started to buy inexpensive baby toys, clothes and gear that I find along the way. These are often presented in addition to the item I picked off the registry. Now that I have a child of my own I often find myself in the children’s department and almost always check out the clearance aisles. I find all sorts of adorable little toys and onesies at unbelievable markdowns.
Of course, I won’t buy an item just because it’s on sale. It has to be really cute and I have to have a general idea of who the item will be given to. Oh, I also try to purchase items that can be worn anytime of year. For example cotton sleepers with feet and onesies can be worn year round. I avoid items that are worn only for a specific season. For example, a 3 month old swimsuit won’t do much good for a baby born in the winter and sweaters aren’t a good gift for a baby born in July.
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I also like to create diaper cakes. They are inexpensive to make but they have huge crowd appeal. In fact, every time I bring one to a shower people ask me how it’s made. You can stuff the cake with all sorts of inexpensive, but high quality items like bibs, burp cloths and toys that you find on sale.
Do you have tricks that help stretch the amount of money you spend on weddings or baby showers? If so, please leave a comment below.