Five Ways to Get Great Gifts on a Small Budget

By Kelly, age 24, California

Trying to do your Christmas shopping on a budget this year? Well, so is the rest of America. But in order to get great gifts without leaving a gaping hole in your checking account being creative and spending wisely come in handy. Make this Christmas all the more magical by adding these five tried and true tricks to your recessionista repertoire.

1. Shop Early. By shopping early you have the ability to spread out your spending instead of going into the negatives on one weekend. Not only should you shop as soon as you can, but shop early in the day. The stores will be less crowded and this will give you more thinking room to find the perfect gift without losing yourself in the spending frenzy that engulfs this time of year.

2. Make It a Basket. Baskets, I believe, were designed with budget people in mind. Not only can you pick out a really pretty one for cheap at, say, TJ Maxx or Michael's, but you can put anything you want in it and it will look great! Just throw a little tissue or shredded paper in it, throw on a bow and viola! Instant great gift. There are two truths that make a basket a perfect gift. 1. Everybody loves to get lots of presents, and 2. Everybody ALSO loves to get BIG presents. You get to put both of these truths to your advantage with a basket. It looks big and is filled with a bunch of smaller presents. Need a gift for the folks or your hunny's parents? Do the basket. Even friends will love it. You can fill it with cheap specialty foods you can get at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or on the sale racks at the mall. Go to your local farm store and pick up whatever is in season. Not only will this be festive, it will be cost effective. If you are not in the buying-people-food business, fill your basket with mementos that remind you of your special someone. Frame a photo of you both, create a photo album, or buy them a book you know they would love. Put it in the basket and you have one great affordable gift.

3. Online Photo Albums. What better way to say you care than to document your time spent with that special person in a personalized photo album. Online photo albums are great because they look professional, you design them however you see fit, and they are cost effective. And if you have never done them before, many photo sites give you incentives to buy from them instead of the many other personalized photo album sites, so shop around. Some might offer free shipping while others offer a free album or 10% off your entire purchase. You can make your friends a photo book of your year together or your parents a family history book. You have an endless array of choices.

Tip: For an extra special gift idea for a member of an older generation, scan all their old and decaying photos they have of their younger years, you know, the ones in that dilapidated album that's disintegrating in the attic. Scan the photos and create a fresh new album for them in a neat personal book. They will never forget it. Some online photo sites are:,,,, and

4. Design Your Own Apparel. You don't have to spend $30 on a designer t-shirt or popular apparel; you can make it yourself and personalize it! Have a witty saying you would love to put on a t-shirt? With sites like, the designing is left up to you, whether you want to make a t-shirt design, messenger tote, pin, clock, water bottle, or hat. You pick the color, font, type of fit, upload any graphics you want to display, and type any text, which can be displayed on any part of the apparel. Always looking for that perfect t-shirt for your computer geek brother or cheesy dad? Well, look no further. If you can't find a t-shirt you love, you can make one. What's great about this service is that you can literally use any graphic you want that you can make or download from the web and be able to view and edit your personalized gear right on the site. Sizes run from small to 3XL.

5. Ebay / Craigslist. Although through the years the popularity of Ebay has made it a bit more expensive and harder to find great deals, they still exist if you look hard enough and are quick enough. Does you mom have a weird thing with collecting salt & pepper shakers? Does your sister love retro clothing? This is your place to shop. Craiglist is good if you get lucky because no one is bidding, and it's first come, first served. Ebay is good because you have more information to go by and you don't have to deal with anything except pushing the Paypal button. Like the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Try any or all of the Recessionista Secrets and you will be well on your way to having a very financially secure, Merry Christmas!

What did you think about this article? Tell us!

First Name:
Email or MySpace:

Sweet Advice
Reader Feedback

February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

Sweet Designs Magazine
The Magazine You Can Write For
The Voice of a New Generation


Your Ad Here