Easy as 1, 2, 3: Three Cheap Gift Ideas That Won’t Make You Look Cheap

Since no one has agreed to put a moratorium on gift giving this year, you’re on the hook for some half-decent gifts to family and friends. But how are you supposed to give nice presents that don’t embarrass anyone but keep you on budget? Here are three suggestions.

Magazines are magical

Who doesn’t love magazines? They make wonderful gifts because you’re guaranteed to find one for each person on your list. You can get Garden & Gun for your literary friend from the South; American Bungalow for your pal who loves the Arts & Crafts movement; or American Iron for your Harley-riding uncle. The best part is that it’s a personalized gift and shows you spent some time thinking about what they like and want. Plus it’s the gift that keeps on giving: They’ll get it not once, but up to a dozen times a year. And each time they receive it, they’ll think fondly of you as they relax and read. The average magazine subscription is only about $12 – which feels like a steal for all those stories and pictures.

Night out on the town

With your best friend in mind, get a cheap calendar at a dollar store and mark down one night a month that you and she (or he) will hit the town. For extra credit you can even write down an idea for the evening like “movie night,” “curry night” or “disco night.” Wrap up the calendar with a bow and voila, you now have a $2 gift that your friend will consider priceless. An alternative is to give the gift of free babysitting so she and her hubby can have a date night. Yes, you’ll have more fun with the first idea, but the second one will make your friend love you forever. Total price: $2.

If you want to add some bang to the night-out buck, consider dropping in a gift certificate to a local restaurant like Olive Garden or maybe some movie tickets picked up at Fandango.com.

Space is supreme

For your spouse, consider the gift of space. If you have a spare bedroom, garage or even walk-in closet, give your spouse the gift of his or her own private room. It could be a workout room, exercise room, yoga or artist studio. Just figure out what your spouse would love and then start picking up a few items here and there to make the room look the part. It’s going to be impossible to clean up the space and prep it as a surprise, so instead, opt for a card explaining your gift and how you’ll start work on cleaning and setting up right after the holidays – just be sure you follow through! Total price: $20 plus labor.

A great way to get this gift going is to add in a gift certificate from a cleaning service like MaidPro.com.

This season doesn’t have to drain your wallet. With a few ideas, a couple of smart buys and a smile, you’re sure to make everyone on your list happy.

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