Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lovely Little Gifts

I written several times before about how important I think it is to say, "thank you"-with tangible proof of appreciation. However, if you plan on giving something it is paramount that you don't just give "whatever"! Making something special though, doesn't have to break the bank!:)

I recently was invited to a graduation party for a lovely young girl. I talked to her mom, who said that the daughter would love gift cards. I can appreciate that-they are my favorite, too! But, I figured that would be what the majority of people were giving her, and I wanted my gift to stand out. So, I purchased a Target gift card, but I also put together a little basket of fun things, too.

Try to think about why you are giving the gift. Is it for a graduation? Birthday? Baby Shower? Thank You? What do you know about the person? Sometimes, as in this case, I am much better friends with the mom, but I can remember being a teenager. And some things are universal to being a girl! Almost every woman appreciates things that match, smell good, are pretty and are useful!

I am a big advocate of expensive candles (Yankee, Bath and Body) but sometimes that just isn't in the budget. These Mainstay candles from Walmart are $1! And they smell terrific. This particular candle was the starting point for this gift basket. I used it to set the color palette and chose my other things based on it. Dorm rooms, and college students, can be smelly! I figured a great smelling candle would be appreciated.

But, I didn't stop there. I covered a box of matches with coordinating scrapbook paper. That was so easy, just glue dots and paper (I made sure to leave one of the striking edges uncovered).

Another super easy thing: a piece of framed Scripture. I typed a verse in Microsoft Word, printed it on cute paper (this piece was from a notepad!) and fitted it in this adorable frame from Target's Dollar Spot. You can find fun frames for around $1 all kinds of places. This made this gift much more personal, and the verse was particularly fitting. It says,

"Make it your aim to learn what pleases the Lord." Ephesians 5:10

Choosing unusual verses it something that tells the receiver that you put a lot of thought into your gift. It also challenges me to make sure I am familiar with the Bible, so that I have a fitting Scripture for every occasion!

 The rest of the gift was easy to put together, and I used a mix of things I had on hand and some purchased just for this occasion. I have found that keeping scented hand sanitizers, frames, notepads, and a few other things  (always on clearance!) allows me to put together great gifts without looking cheap. But I always like to purchase a few extra things, so the gift is really thoughtful. I put stickers on the back of everything explaining what it was for, I made them humorous, but forgot to take photos! So here is a more dry explanation.

-framed Scripture, to remember the purpose of learning
-Band-Aids, for the ouchies her mom can't kiss
-matches for the candles, and other "hard to get rid of" smells
-hand sanitizer for dirty doorknobs and other things
-lip balm for the days that there is no time for makeup
-yellow nail polish for days that need a little sunshine
-gum (lemon bar to match the candle!) when there is no time to brush your teeth
-pedicure kit because pretty toes always make you feel good
- notepad for lists of homework, and all those other things you have to keep track of!

I put it all together in a white basket (Target Dollar Spot again!) and added some washi tape to the basket to make it match. I really tried to think about what she might need or want, and using matching items made it so fun and eye-catching. Little details, like only using color coordinating items, and having a reason for everything makes it thoughtful.
Sometimes, though, even $10 is too much. I wanted to give all my Bible study ladies a "Mother's Day" gift, for our last day of study. I had 20 women in the class and I just couldn't swing that, as much as I would have loved to! So, I went hunting for inspiration and found just the thing: poufs at the Dollar Store. I put together "mini spa"baskets and I did it on the cheap!
Here's what I put in:
-pouf 5 for $1 at the Dollar Store $0.20
-bag of handmade bath salts (easy, great recipe here) I bought the glassine bags at Michael's $0.12, and the bath salts were: lemon essential oil, Epsom salts, baking soda and table salts. That was roughly $0.20, so total for the salts was $0.32
-candy (purchased with coupons!) was $0.20, I used Hershey's Simple Pleasures and Lindt Caramel Truffles
-a tealight wrapped with washi tape. I already had these but I priced them and they would be $0.05 each
-the basket $0.25 (4 in a pack from the Dollar Store)

I already had the lemon essential oil, tissue, washi tape, and scrapbook paper. However, you wouldn't *have* to use those so the total cost for these was $1.02!
However, it is the little touches, like the washi tape and scrapbook labels, that are the details that make it memorable. The labels said:

Mini Relaxation Kit (which I misspelled! Ugh! Working late at night on a program without spell check is NOT  a good idea)
Lemon Bath Salts
Exfoliating Pouf
Ambiance Candle
Indulgent Chocolate
Happy Mother's Day!
I taped it to the front of the basket with more washi tape (Target, 4 rolls for $4) and it made for a pretty cute gift! Again, the key to these was thinking about what would make it special. The Lemon Bath Salts were so cheap, but the handmade element made them so thoughtful. Look for something that you can do that is handmade. Maybe everyone else can buy all the stuff in that bucket-but you make it special when you add washi tape to a plain candle, put together bath salts from scratch  and choose coordinating candies!

So to recap:http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=3389073715517542581#editor/target=post;postID=5152741727669457457;onPublishedMenu=overview;onClosedMenu=overview;postNum=0;src=link
-include something handmade/homemade
-add cute details, scrapbook paper, washi tape, ribbon, etc. Don't leave things plain!
-think about the recipient. What would they like or be able to use? If you don't know them very well, think about what you would like!
-match! Coordinating makes things seem more expensive and thoughtful.
-don't be afraid to use clearance or Dollar Store items, especially if you can make them more fancy.
-set a budget and challenge yourself to get the most for your money. Using coupons made it possible to put in twice as much candy without spending more than I wanted. Adding items on hand to things I specifically purchased also spread the amount over a period of time, which made it more affordable.
-BE THOUGHTFUL. No one wants something you pulled out of your dusty "gift closet" that you just need to get rid of. I truly take each person into account, even when making group gifts. You can't substitute anything for really being conscientious when giving gifts.
-Have fun! Don't take it too seriously. Everyone smiles over PacMan Band-Aids, right?;)

Here are a few more "little gifties" that I've put together:
Teacher Hand Soap Thank-You Gifts
Water Bottle/Water Gun Thank You Gifts
Homemade Sugar Scrub Gift Sets
"Cozy" Christmas Gifts

I linked up at;
Thrifty Thursday at Living Well, Spending Less



  1. Very nice & thoughtful - it doesn't have to be expensive to be a perfect gift.

  2. All the people in your life are so lucky to get your thoughtful gifts (your sisters included). I got a couple of care packages when I lived in the dorms and they were nice, but not nearly as well put together. Although a tip for future college baskets, most dorms won't allow any burning (although I'm sure there are exceptions/she could use it at home), but air fresheners even from the dollar store are much in demand.

  3. I loved the dorm basket! Yellow is such a fun color, and one of my faves:) I always admire how thrifty you are while never ever looking or presenting as "cheap"!



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