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August 18, 2009 by Sarah Nagel

Easy Inexpensive Gift Ideas

When I left for college, I was high on life, confident in the future, and ready for new challenges. I never expected to feel so homesick. I was embarrassed to feel the way I did. Even the word “homesick” sounded lame and childish – it was a word used to describe six-year-olds at an overnight camp, not a self-respecting adult. But there was a good reason I felt so lonely; college was the first time I was separated from my twin sister for an extended period of time. Without her, I felt alone and adrift.

One day I received a package in the mail from my sister. I opened it to find a deliciously cozy sweatshirt and a note that read, “Think of this sweatshirt as a big hug from me.” On cold winter days, I wore the sweatshirt and felt a little bit warmer and a little bit more loved. Having a physical reminder of her love made all the difference in the world. I treasured the sweatshirt for years even after it shrunk in the wash and didn’t fit me anymore. It symbolized everything beautiful and wonderful about my sister.

Thoughtful notes and care packages that arrive out of the blue are truly gifts of the heart. They aren’t given out of obligation or according to a pre-set schedule. They don’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Even though they often contain simple everyday items, they are the gifts we remember forever.

Brighten someone’s day by sending them a one-of-a-kind gift. Whether it’s for a friend who just moved away to a new city, a spouse in the military, or an elderly relative, your gift is sure to make them smile. Small gestures of love are incredibly powerful and they don’t require a lot of time or money. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Home Spa Kit
This is a perfect gift for the lady in your life. It’s guaranteed to be a hit and is so easy to put together. All you need is her favorite magazine, a package of scented bath salts, and a cute candle. If you want to personalize it even more, add in a mixed CD full of relaxing music. She’ll love you forever. Who doesn’t enjoy getting pampered once in a while?

2. One Hundred Kisses
Find an extra-large mug. Put a special heart-shaped “I love you” note at the bottom of the mug. Fill the mug with Hershey kisses. Wrap it up in clear cellophane and secure it with a pretty ribbon or piece of string to prevent the kisses from spilling all over the place during transport. Kisses, love notes, chocolate…your gift couldn’t be any sweeter.

3. A Week of Hope
Gather together you favorite words of encouragement. They could be inspirational quotes, poetry, song lyrics, Bible verses, or your own thoughts or prayers. Write down your messages on separate pieces of paper and seal them inside a different envelope labeled for each day of the week. Your loved one can look forward to opening a new message of hope each day. This is a wonderful way to help someone going through a difficult time. Your words will help them remember they are loved and cared for.

4. A Collage
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a collage of pictures is worth a million words (or something like that). This gift idea is especially fun to make. Looking through old pictures of you two together will bring back great memories. Include a few pictures that make you laugh and a note that describes one of your favorite experiences together.

5. A Feel-Good Jar
Think about all the reasons you admire and appreciate your friend or loved one. Write down positive adjectives on little slips of paper. Words like, “beautiful,” “kind,” “loyal,” and “strong” are always winners. Fill a jar with your compliments. Whenever your friend needs a self-esteem booster, the feel-good jar will be the perfect place to find one.

6. Homemade Treats
This care package brings to life the old saying, “The way to the heart is through the stomach.” Everyone loves a homemade treat. If you have a cherished family recipe, it’s even more special. Bake brownies, cookies, or fudge. Make it simple or fancy, whatever you prefer. College students will especially appreciate food that wasn’t mass produced in a cafeteria. If you send them a package during finals week, you will win extra points.

7. An Old-Fashioned Letter
Grab a pen and paper and write a letter. Elderly relatives who have difficulty hearing will especially appreciate a handwritten note since communication over the phone isn’t always easy for them. Plus, there is something inherently sweet about a letter. Having something you can hold and touch is comforting. In this high-tech world, a handwritten note has extra umph. Your gesture will be cherished and appreciated.


Previous entry: Awkward Girl Goes to a Concert

Next entry: I Married a Sports Fanatic


A great reminder that the simplest ideas can go a long way. Thanks Sarah!

By Andy Johnson on August 18 2009

Thanks for all the great ideas, can’t wait to send a care package soon! Oh, an idea if you’re sending a package to military friend who is stationed away from home (i.e. Afghanistan or Iraq), use Charmin toilet paper to fill the box up, it’s a big hit, much better than what they’re issued! My friends used to rave more about the tp than the goodies! Ha!

By Emily on August 20 2009

Hello Sarah Nagel, First of all thanks for sharing really very nice and good info. I read your entire post and here you really nice explanation on inexpensive gift ideas. Thanks for sharing your valuable information.

By Diwali Corporate Gifts on August 28 2009

An old fashioned letter strikes me most. Love to receive letters that are very personalized. I mean, hand written and not computer or typewritten because it depicts truth in it.

By hampers on November 11 2009

Grab a pen and paper and write a letter. Elderly relatives who have difficulty hearing will especially appreciate a handwritten note since communication over the phone isn’t always easy for them. Plus, there is something inherently sweet about a letter. Having something you can hold and touch is comforting. In this high-tech world, a handwritten note has extra umph. Your gesture will be cherished and appreciated.

By auto insurance quotes on November 25 2009

Good share Sarah! Simple little things can be great if it comes from the heart. What matters most is the intention to make someone feel special.

By Collision Repair Lexington on February 26 2010

I hate the kisses. Very bad taste. I can not believe how many people eat those. Swiss chocolate only for me.

By Masini de inchiriat on April 23 2010

To be honest I do not like a bit the taste of these kisses but for a gift - chocolate is a great idea.

By Hostess on May 22 2010

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