I have a big family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, both sets of grandparents, inlaws and step-relatives. I am also not a millionaire. And this year, my purse strings are tighter than ever. So, I am a pro when it comes to spreading my budget to cover gifts for everyone and I've decided to share a few ideas. Just because you are tight doesn't mean you should go to the dollar store and get people senseless junk they'll never use. If you ask the right questions and play your cards right, your inexpensive gifts will be more appreciated than the expensive gizmo they got from someone last minute.
You'd be surprised how many friends and family read that you were unaware of. Ask around, find out their preferred genres and favorite authors. And if you are so poor that you can't afford new book prices there are always thrift stores, the library book store and second-hand book stores. You can get books for as low as a quarter. You can even raid your own library and give away some of your own. (For those that think this hurts authors and the publishing industry, think again. This has been done for years, for one thing. For another, I've gotten my start on some favorite authors this way and went on to buy their books new for myself and for gifts.)
2.) Crafts. There are many nifty things you can make. I once made Christmas ornaments out of old wrenches. I painted them like candy canes. My grandma made me a recipe box that I still use all the time. I have a hand-made toothbrush holder that looks like a snail. You can find all sorts of great ideas at craft stores and online. Not everyone is in the mood for this though, (I'm not, this year) so I'll move on.
3.) Mix CDS. Almost everyone loves music and blank cds are dirt cheap and there are sources for free music everywhere online. Just make some calls and find out favorite songs. Then download and burn away.
4.) Food! Everybody eats. You can make a batch of cookies. Homemade jam is time-consuming, but easy. Salsa is a pain, but worth it. Homemade pickles are easy and they rock! I'll probably post the recipe later. I used to give my grandpa a bag of potatoes every year and he loved it.
5.) Necessities. Sometimes the best ideas are things that are always useful. Grandma used to give every family toilet paper and laundry soap, which we were all stoked about. My BFF got me cooking spices for my birthday once. I can never have enough thyme to thank someone for. lol. One time someone got me a spatula at the dollar store and I use it all the time. And if someone got me more printer paper, I'd jump up and down. The simplest things are sometimes the best.
So remember, you don't need to get people flat screen tvs and fancy gizmos to show your love. Just be thoughtful.