Sunday, April 3, 2011

Frugal Gift Giving, the whole year long ...

I love to give gifts. No seriously, I love to individually select special items for people for their birthdays, holidays, and sometimes for no reason at all. I think the challenge of finding "the perfect gift" is a lot of fun.

The problem comes with the fact that I have a really, really big family. Three sisters, one of which has a family of her own now, and four sets of divorced-and-remarried parents between Casey and I make gift-giving a budgetary challenge. We just have a lot of people to buy for!

That's why a couple of years ago, I instituted the "Gift Bin" system; a giant plastic bin of small-ish things I've purchased throughout the year:

I know it seems a bit out of hand and possibly even like a big pile of crap to the outside world. Actually, it is a bit of organized chaos. But, just know that most of the items are things I've bought for a specific person with a small sticky note reminding me who it belongs to (So, act surprised at Christmas if you see a future gift now). Some of the items are just things I've bought out of season (scarves, hats, etc.) for less than $2. Some are just things I've seen here and there and are a good price, and I'll save them for occasions that I've forgotten about (can I still claim the Mommy Brain excuse?) or that we are unexpectedly invited to.

This weekend, we attended a birthday party for Beatrice Kate's Bestie: Abigail. We knew when Abby's birthday was and I had actually already purchased her gift a few months ago. So, when our first excuse to cheat on the The Dollar Diet arose, we were already prepared:
And that's really today's tip: Plan for special events weeks, if not months, ahead of them to save money. If you're always keeping an eye out of special things throughout the year, you will rarely find yourself having to pay full-price at the last minute. Actually, this system worked out great for us this past Christmas season. I think Casey and I did one day of Christmas shopping to fill in for the big, specifically requested items; and we did that on Black Friday so we got the best prices. If you've got space for a Gift Bin, I highly recommend you start one.

Then, when your weirdo neighbors (ahem, like ours...) randomly brings you a gift... you don't look like a total jerk for forgetting to get something for them.

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