Christmas gift ideas http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/11530/all en-US 5 Gifts You Can Get Through Bartering http://www.wisebread.com/5-gifts-you-can-get-through-bartering <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-gifts-you-can-get-through-bartering" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/massage.jpg" alt="Massage" title="Massage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="240" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A frugal holiday doesn't need to be a giftless one. Whether you&rsquo;re in a service industry, a professional, or just a frugal gift-giver willing to work, you can barter your time and services for wonderful gifts that have real value. Save money without cheaping out by bartering for these in-demand gifts that friends and family will actually appreciate and use.</p> <h2>Music Lessons</h2> <p>Ideal for music lovers, children, and would-be rock stars, bartered music lessons make an incredible gift. Fun and enriching, not only does playing an instrument provide a valuable creative outlet to adults and children alike, but studies have shown that music education helps children develop valuable skills like critical thinking, creative problem solving, and teamwork. Maybe that's why kids who take music lessons are also more likely to achieve in other subjects like math and science.&nbsp;</p> <p>Ranging in price from $30-$100 an hour, music lessons can be a substantial investment, but they're a gift that's sure to be remembered for a lifetime. Before bartering for lessons, however, be sure to determine what instrument you're bartering for (or, alternately, find a swap-friendly instructor who is multi-talented and can teach several different instruments) and whether or not lessons will include instrument rental. Need an actual instrument? Well, you can always barter for that too!</p> <h2>Massages</h2> <p>Who doesn't like a nice, relaxing deep-tissue massage? Not only does massage therapy feel amazing, but good bodywork carries a host of health benefits, including improved circulation, increased joint flexibility, and improved tissue regeneration. Ideal for people in stressed-out situations, massage therapy can go a long way in repairing the damage that a high-stress, fast-paced lifestyle can do.</p> <p>When swapping for body work, keep in mind that professional massages start at about $60 an hour and generally cost more at spas than at doctor and chiropractic offices. Also, although it's pretty easy to find personal massage therapists willing to barter for services, it's much more difficult to find a massage therapist who works in a medical practice to do so, so you may want to target beauty spas instead.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Oil Changes</h2> <p>With the average cost of car ownership hovering around $6,000 a year, most people are thankful for anything that takes a bite out of that bill. Not only are oil changes a nice, practical gift that most people can appreciate, but they also come in handy year round.</p> <p>Depending on how comprehensive the oil change is, prices can range from $20 to $75 each. If you're planning on giving a year's worth of changes, how many oil changes you'll want to give will depend on the age of the car. For the most part, 2002 models and older need oil changes every 3,000 miles, and models newer than that need changes every 3,000 to 10,000 miles.</p> <h2>Salon Services</h2> <p>The great thing about hair salon gifts is that they're versatile. Whether you're bartering for a trendsetting friend with a short, sassy pixie or giving a not-so-subtle hint to your mom that it's time to drop the bouffant, bartering with a hair salon can cover a number of gift-giving options.</p> <p>Because hair salon services are priced according to service and not time, pricing covers a wide range. In general, expect a standard cut from a salon to start at around $26, with prices increasing beyond that based on length of hair, coloring, and styling options.</p> <h2>Art Lessons</h2> <p>As sad as it is, there are plenty of talented starving artists out there willing to barter their talent and training. Whether you're looking to barter for painting, drawing, or ceramics lessons, there are usually plenty of bartering artists to choose from, each with his or her own style and perspective. Just like with music lessons, when you're bartering for art lessons, be sure to determine what supplies (if any) will be included in each lesson.</p> <p>Expect prices for art lessons to vary a lot, based not only on medium and supplies but on the skill of the artist as well. More established artists will inevitably be able to barter their skills (and work) at a higher rate than lesser-known ones.</p> <h2>What Can You Barter?</h2> <p>Think you don&rsquo;t have anything worth bartering? Think again. Just about anything can be bartered. Barterers don&rsquo;t just trade things, they also trade professional and personal services too. Are you a plumber, electrician, accountant, web designer, or mechanic? Then you have in-demand skills that you can use to trade for gifts. Are you an artist or musician? Then you have highly specialized skills that you can use to trade for objects, performances, and lessons. And if you don&rsquo;t have a trade to tap into, there are loads of personal services you can offer: daycare, housekeeping, pet walking, and personal gopher are just a few. Bartering is less about having the right skills and more about finding the right trading partner and working out a trade.</p> <h2>Where to Start Bartering</h2> <p>If you're new to bartering, you'll want to learn from the pros, so be sure to check out bartering best practices and sites online. And don't forget to go where all the blue-blood barterers go: <a href="http://www.craigslist.com">Craigslist</a>. Not only does Craiglist give you a venue for finding first-rate local swappers, but it's also free to post and peruse. To find what's on the bartering table, select the &quot;barter&quot; link from beneath the &quot;for sale&quot; header. Items regularly available for bartering include professional and personal services, cars, and gift certificates.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jenn Silva is a new freelance writer from the Midwest. She appreciates simple living and a nice cup of tea. Read more from Jenn:<a href="http://www.suite101.com/content/how-to-find-the-best-cheap-wines-a313457"><br /> </a></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.suite101.com/content/how-to-find-the-best-cheap-wines-a313457">How to Find the Best Cheap Wines</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.suite101.com/content/time-management-3-eco-friendly-ways-to-save-time-every-day-a313187">Time Management: 3 Eco-Friendly Ways to Save Time Every&nbsp;Day</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.suite101.com/content/go-green-6-eco-friendly-ways-to-save-money-a311486">Go Green: 6 Eco-Friendly&nbsp;Ways to Save Money</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jenn-silva">Jenn Silva</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-gifts-you-can-get-through-bartering">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/30-meaningful-mothers-day-gifts-for-every-budget">30 Meaningful Mother&#039;s Day Gifts for Every Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-valentines-day-gifts-for-10-or-less">20 Valentine&#039;s Day Gifts for $10 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-5-cheap-greeting-cards-that-blow-hallmark-away">Make 5 cheap ‘greeting cards’ that blow Hallmark away.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">5 Easy-to-Make Deluxe Gifts for Under $15</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-more-for-your-old-treadmill-by-bartering">Get More for Your Old Treadmill by Bartering</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living barter cheap gifts Christmas gift ideas Wed, 22 Dec 2010 13:00:10 +0000 Jenn Silva 406094 at http://www.wisebread.com Unusual Gift Ideas for a Memorable Holiday Season http://www.wisebread.com/unusual-gift-ideas-for-a-memorable-holiday-season <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/unusual-gift-ideas-for-a-memorable-holiday-season" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gift-161145825.jpg" alt="family opening gifts" title="family opening gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every year I struggle to find meaningful gifts for relatives that they will appreciate instead of adding to the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/clutter-free-the-zero-accumulation-household" title="Clutter-Free: The Zero-Accumulation Household">clutter of &quot;stuff&quot;</a> that they already own. It&#39;s a bit challenging, especially since I always intend to shop early in the year, but find myself rushing with a week left before Christmas. However, over the past few years I&#39;ve borrowed creative gift ideas from friends and relatives that most people would find refreshing compared to the store-bought &quot;hot&quot; ticket items that are often over-priced. These ideas range in price from practically free (depending on how you view your time) to more expensive. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-awesome-useful-gifts" title="25 Awesome, Useful Gifts">25 Awesome, Useful Gifts</a>)</p> <h2>Hand-Crafted Coupon Books</h2> <p>As a teenager who was usually broke, I often had to think &quot;outside the box&quot;&nbsp;when it came to gift giving. I didn&#39;t have much money during my teen years, but I still wanted to show my parents and family members how much I loved them by giving them a gift they would appreciate. One of the best gifts my mother ever commented on was a coupon book that I hand-wrote containing everyday chores I would do for free. The coupons included a night of washing dishes, taking out the trash, and washing the car. Of course these days, my mother isn&#39;t looking for me to wash the dishes; she&#39;d instead prefer a visit!</p> <p>With so many stationery options and easy access to computer graphics, coupon books can still be an excellent and creative way for those short on cash to show their appreciation for close friends and family members. The coupons don&#39;t have to stop at cleaning or mowing; they can be used for spending time with each other or offering to babysit your friend&#39;s children so the parents can have a date-night out. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today?ref=seealso">25 Gifts You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p><strong>Price range per gift recipient:&nbsp;</strong>Free to minimal (depending on how much time you set aside).</p> <h2>Family or &quot;Group&quot; Gifts</h2> <p>Last year I finally appreciated a piece of &quot;junk&quot; mail I&nbsp;received in my mailbox. It was a coupon for an Omaha Steaks gift basket. For a reasonable price, I was able to send my sister-in-law and her family of five a delicious amount of steak and chicken along with a couple of side dishes, enough food for at least three meals. It was a gift I knew they would use and appreciate, and it wouldn&#39;t go to waste or end up broken within a week. I also saved money because it was a &quot;family&quot; gift versus five individual gifts.</p> <p>This year, instead of repeating last year&#39;s gift basket idea, I decided to purchase her family a membership to a place they enjoy visiting: the zoo. With two young children who need engaging activities over the winter and summer breaks, I felt this gift would be something their entire family could enjoy. Not only does it promote learning, it also promotes activity. Again, I saved money by purchasing a single gift instead of one for each person.</p> <p>Alternative family gifts could include memberships to museums or a gift certificate to a local performing arts center, depending on the family members&#39; preferences. Since the whole family can enjoy the gift, it reduces the amount of shopping stress and saves time for the purchaser, especially if the list of recipients is long.</p> <p><strong>Price range per gift recipient:</strong>&nbsp;Averages $16 to $50 per person (depending on the type of family gift and local membership options).</p> <h2>Personalized Memorabilia</h2> <p>One of my favorite gifts to this day is a wedding gift I received many years ago; it was a personalized keepsake box with our names and wedding date inscribed on the top. It was an incredibly thoughtful gift that I still cherish.</p> <p>There are plenty of stores dedicated to personalizing blankets, boxes, wine glasses, and clocks that make terrific gifts for family members, friends, and colleagues. However, a few months ago I came across a website, <a href="http://www.tynsysmiraclebears.com">Tynsy&#39;s Miracle Bears</a>, that sells &quot;Huggable Heirlooms&quot;&nbsp;that are quite personal. It&#39;s a gift that only a close family member would purchase for another relative: a teddy bear made out of a person&#39;s clothing who has passed away. At first it sounded a bit strange, almost bordering on morbid. However, once I&nbsp;read their customer letters and stories, I&nbsp;realized that these teddy bears could be purchased any time after a person has passed away. That got me thinking about my grandparents and how I&#39;d like a bear made out of my grandmother&#39;s blouse or my grandfather&#39;s Army uniform. I also thought about my siblings and how they might like one too. Since these bears are sewn out of the clothing of a lost loved one, I&nbsp;realized I was too late to order one for this Christmas, but it&#39;s something I&#39;ll look into for next holiday season, as I plan my shopping for earlier in the year!</p> <p><strong>Price range per gift recipient: </strong>$25 to $85 (depending on the personalized gift).</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unusual-gift-ideas-for-a-memorable-holiday-season">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-give-thoughtful-gifts-on-a-scrooge-like-budget">How to Give Thoughtful Gifts on a Scrooge-Like Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-art-of-the-group-gift">The Art of the Group Gift</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-gifts-for-a-family-with-many-children">Buying Gifts for a Family with Many Children</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">Top 7 Reasons Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-camping-coffee-makers">The 5 Best Camping Coffee Makers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Christmas gift ideas coupon books family gifts Fri, 17 Dec 2010 13:00:22 +0000 Little House 394000 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Easy-to-Make Deluxe Gifts for Under $15 http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4806570330_99f5dbfd9e_z.jpg" alt="flowering cactus" title="flowering cactus" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As of last week, my home, Dinky Manor, has become my own personal sweatshop.&nbsp;Even though I don&rsquo;t personally celebrate wintertime holidays that involve gift giving, just about everyone I care about does. Alas, my entire budget for gifts this year is $200 for everyone. So here I am, knitting mittens for my hoards of nieces, canning donated backyard fruit into exotic jams for my friends and neighbors, and planning a weekend baking marathon that will involve the creation and decoration of 80 dozen cookies to give to everyone else. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-great-gifts-that-keep-on-giving" title="31 Great Gifts That Keep on Giving">31 Great Gifts That Keep on Giving</a>)</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve got a little time and a little knowledge, it&rsquo;s easy to create beautiful gifts for a few dollars. For example, last year I bought a thick Calvin Klein cashmere sweater at Goodwill, unraveled the sweater, and re-knit the yarn into four cashmere hats for my girlfriends. Had I bought the hats new, they would have cost $75 each at least, but since I knit them myself, they cost me $2 each.</p> <p>But what if you don&rsquo;t know how to sew or don&rsquo;t have the time to knit for other people? What if your apartment doesn&rsquo;t have an oven? With a little creativity and some planning, you can still give thoughtful, memorable, and even luxurious gifts for less than $15 a piece.</p> <h2>A Lasting Baby Gift</h2> <p>When I don&rsquo;t have time to knit a baby sweater, my default <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-throw-the-most-fabulous-and-frugal-baby-shower-of-all-time" title="How to Throw the Most Fabulous (and Frugal) Baby Shower of all Time">baby-shower</a> gift has always been a huge stack of cloth diapers. Since all of my friends seem to be cloth-diaper users, everyone loves this gift because they:</p> <ol> <li>Never have enough clean diapers.</li> <li>Never get enough cloth diapers as gifts because diapers are the &ldquo;boring&ldquo; gift on the registry.</li> <li>Use the cloth diapers for decades after the baby is done with them as the softest, most absorbent cleaning towels.</li> </ol> <p>A dozen new cloth diapers cost about $12, but what makes my $12 diaper gift the star of every baby shower is my presentation. I wrap the diapers in plain brown craft paper, but then I tie a sterling baby spoon to the top of the package with a satin ribbon. I buy the sterling silver baby spoons for $1 to $3 at swap meets, garage sales, and antique stores and store the little spoons for future gift giving in my silverware drawer, so they are easy to find when I need them (and don&rsquo;t take up additional storage space).</p> <p>This present is a huge hit because the gift combines two ultra-practical gifts that are gender-neutral and last forever. The shiny spoon and the satin ribbon make a $12 gift of diapers look <em>really </em>expensive. On several occasions I&rsquo;ve actually lucked out with the perfect monogram already engraved on the antique spoon, which is just all kinds of win.</p> <h2>Great Greens</h2> <h3>The Re-Blooming Wedding Present</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;ve got even a borderline green thumb and a tiny patch of sunlight, you can give your newlywed friends a present of &ldquo;<a href="http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/southerngarden/roseprop.html">wedding roses</a>.&rdquo; If your friend has roses in her bouquet or in her centerpieces, ask if you can take some with you at the end of her wedding day &ldquo;for a surprise.&rdquo; Once you get the roses home, cut off the blooms and all the leaves. Then cut two inches off the bottom of the stems at an angle. Cut the naked stems into lengths that are about as long as a pencil. Dip the cut end of the stem pieces into Rootone or another rooting hormone (willow water, made with from soaking fresh cut willow twigs in water, works great too), and plant the stems in damp potting soil. Water regularly. The rose cuttings will take root within two weeks, eventually becoming tiny rose plants. Remember, Emily Post says that everyone has a year to send a wedding gift. By the time the couple&rsquo;s first anniversary rolls around, you should have at least one surviving wedding rose plant (if not a dozen) to gift to the couple for their garden.</p> <h3>Succulents for Friends and Co-Workers</h3> <p>You can turn other plants into beautiful, long-term gifts as well. <a href="http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/propagate-succulents-00400000011657/">Succulents</a> and cacti are very easy to propagate from cuttings. In general, low-water plants will create their own pups that you just have to separate from the mother plant and repot. I have a round cactus that I got as a gift years ago from a friend. Every year I split the &ldquo;mother&rdquo; cactus into ten separate little baby plants and repot them into little ceramic pots that I buy for $1 or less at garages sales or thrift stores. These cacti, which flower in the summer with fist-sized yellow blooms, are unique stocking stuffers and truly the gift that keeps on giving.</p> <h3>Orchids: Solve a Mystery, Save Some Moolah</h3> <p>Another great plant gift buy is the &ldquo;mystery orchid.&rdquo; Since most garden stores are strapped for space, they don&rsquo;t want to take the time to water and care for the orchids after they&rsquo;ve bloomed until they re-bloom. Mystery orchids are the plants that have already bloomed, but not sold, and I buy all my orchids off the sale table at my local garden store for under $5. Although orchids have a reputation of being difficult, they only need to be watered once a week and are actually pretty hard to kill. Orchids make great gifts for men or women and are my favorite thank-you gift to send to business associates, as they match any interior and last much longer than cut flowers.</p> <h2>Signed Books for Bibliophiles</h2> <p>Since part of my job involves working with writers, publishers, and book agents, I attend a lot of book-related events. One of my least-expensive, but certainly sneakiest, gifts for friends is getting their favorite books inscribed by their favorite authors. Obviously, the easiest way to get a book signed by an author is to buy a book at a book signing. While I would personally love to support my local bookstores and authors, purchasing multiple copies of books for gifting, alas, is not in my budget. So, I&rsquo;ve figured out a low-budget method of book inscription. The easiest part of this gift is asking the author for a signature or inscription. The hardest part of this gift is stealing your friends&rsquo; beloved books off the shelves in their homes without them noticing.</p> <p>Since attending book signings is not something that is easy for everyone, most people can create this gift via the U.S. Postal Service. Some writers will sign books that are sent to them with return postage. Some best-selling authors are too busy (or old) to deal with the post office chore of sending back every book that is sent to them for signing, but instead are willing to send you a signed bookplate if you send them a stamped, self-addressed envelope. (Check out the FAQ section of a favorite author&rsquo;s blog for specifics on autographs and bookplates).</p> <h2>An Updated 1985 Gift for Music Fans</h2> <p>A gift that has been largely forgotten because of technological advances is the mix tape. Once a staple of high school romances, homemade mixes have fallen out of favor in exchange for the iTunes gift card. One of my favorite music gifts is the updated version of the mix tape &mdash; the personalized CD. A few years ago, I gave my friend Jane a CD of 15 songs that are about girls named Jane. I made a similar CD for my friend Lala, where I collected songs where La-La-La figured prominently in the songs&rsquo; choruses. (According to several lists, <a href="http://www.sabotagetimes.com/music/top-10-songs-that-go-la-la-la/">I&rsquo;m not the only one who had this bright idea</a>).&nbsp;</p> <p>The mix tape can also be the audio version of a scrapbook or photo album. I think for most people, music is connected with specific memories and events in their lives. For example, I will always associate &ldquo;We Are Family&rdquo; with Panama, since Sister Sledge was practically the soundtrack of that country when my family travelled there in 1979. Thirty years later, Abba&rsquo;s &ldquo;Dancing Queen&rdquo; still conjures memories of my neighbor dancing around on the shag carpeting of her rumpus room when she thought nobody was looking. Creating a time capsule CD of songs that remind you of a certain event or time period is a great way to share memories with your friends.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The Totally Free Luxury Gift of Time</h2> <p>Last but not least, one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is time off from housework. Whether it&rsquo;s the new parents who are trying to figure out how to deal with their first baby, the friend who has just lost her mother to cancer, or the HR Lady at the office dealing with the aftermath of the company Christmas party, all people appreciate a clean bathroom or kitchen, especially when they are stressed out. One person can deep clean a room in less than hour and make someone&rsquo;s day so much easier. In today&rsquo;s world where everyone is overworked and worn out, the ultimate luxury gift is the gift of free time.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Max Wong, who blogs at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/">My Roman Apartment</a>. Read more by Max:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-self-storage-units-are-more-sad-museums-than-savvy-solutions">5 Ways Self-Storage Units Are More Sad Museums Than Savvy Solutions</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-potluck-parties-that-help-you-share-the-wealth">5 Potluck Parties That Help You Share the Wealth</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/food-stamps-eating-202-june/">Food Stamps: Eating Well on $202 in June</a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts">7 Savory Food Gifts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-own-coupons-20-great-free-gift-ideas">20 Great, Free Gift Ideas</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-gifts-you-can-make-today">25 Gifts You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake">15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-fitness-gifts-for-15-or-less">20 Fitness Gifts for $15 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY cheap gifts Christmas gift ideas holiday gifts wedding gifts Mon, 13 Dec 2010 13:36:07 +0000 Max Wong 329200 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Savory Food Gifts http://www.wisebread.com/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bread-168736420.jpg" alt="bread" title="bread" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>December is a time for sweets. Heck, even December&#39;s most famous fairy is named after a sugarplum. But as much as I love candy, cookies, and other sugar-filled treats, I don&rsquo;t like receiving them as gifts. Between rich chocolate cakes at potluck holiday parties, complimentary candy canes at the bank, and cookies served at stores enticing me to stay longer and shop, I&rsquo;ve already had my fill of sugar by the time gift-giving comes around. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake?ref=seealso">15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake</a>)</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re traditionally a sweet-giver but suspect that your giftees&rsquo; sugar cravings have already been sated, here are some alternative gifts to traditional holiday sweets.</p> <h2>Biscuit Mix&nbsp;</h2> <p>If you usually give cookie mix in a jar, consider giving <a href="http://baking.about.com/od/biscuitsandscones/r/basicmix.htm">biscuit mix</a> instead.&nbsp;You can use whole-wheat or white flour and customize the mix with dried herbs (try dill, basil, or chives). The mix is versatile, too, and can be used to create biscuits or dumplings.</p> <h2>Single-Serving Frozen Lasagna</h2> <p>Some people opt to freeze sliced cookie dough instead of giving cookie mix in a jar, allowing people to just cook one or two cookies at a time. Take the same concept by making your favorite lasagna recipe, then cutting it into individual portions and freezing it. This is especially great for busy friends who don&#39;t always have time to cook dinner for themselves but value a home-cooked meal.</p> <h2>Yeast Breads</h2> <p>Trade sugar-laden quick breads for yeast breads. Cooking with yeast takes more time and can be intimidating at first, but it allows you to make everything from sandwich bread to dinner rolls to airy braided challah.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Tomato Sauce</h2> <p>If you&#39;re a canner, trade your traditional jam or jelly for a homemade tomato sauce. Pair it with a bag of pasta to round out the gift.</p> <h2>Fruit</h2> <p>Okay, yes, fruit is sweet. But if you&#39;ve been sending a family member or business associate a catalog-ordered tower of different types of chocolate for the past few years, a box of fresh fruit could be a welcome (and healthier) change.</p> <h2>Infused Spirits</h2> <p>I <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/for-delicious-cocktails-infuse-alcohol">wrote about this recently</a>. Instead of bothering with food, just go straight for the booze with spirits like lime-flavored gin and hot pepper vodka to mix in a bloody mary. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-homemade-liqueurs-to-bottle-now-for-tasty-holiday-gifts?ref=seealso">10 Homemade Liqueurs to Bottle for Tasty Gifts</a>)</p> <h2>Brussels Sprouts</h2> <p>&quot;What?&quot; you may be asking. Here&#39;s my reasoning: I was trying to think of a savory food that is as stereotypically hated as the infamous fruitcake. (Although I do love roasted brussels sprouts, and I will gladly welcome them as a gift.)</p> <p><em>Do you like receiving sweet or savory food gifts? Which do you prefer to give?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/meg-favreau">Meg Favreau</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-savory-holiday-food-gifts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-unique-holiday-gifts-you-can-bake">15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-to-make-deluxe-gifts-for-under-15">5 Easy-to-Make Deluxe Gifts for Under $15</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-moonshine">How to Make Moonshine</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cooking-oils-for-your-heart-and-wallet">The Best Cooking Oils: For Your Heart and Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Food and Drink Christmas gift ideas Cooking holiday gifts Mon, 13 Dec 2010 13:00:07 +0000 Meg Favreau 381586 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons to Change Traditional Holiday Gift-Giving http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gift giving.jpg" alt="boy opening a holiday gift" title="boy opening a holiday gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Some traditions are worth keeping. Others almost beg for you to stomp all over them, perhaps none so much as traditional American holiday gifting.&nbsp;If the recession has taught us anything (and this is a big &quot;IF&quot;), it's that many of us are spending way more than we should be. If it's taught us anything else, it's that maybe all of that stuff didn't really matter in the first place.</p> <p>So why the heck do we continue to mindlessly head out among the chaos and spend a few hundred or thousand dollars on impersonal stuff that we don't even know the receiver will need or even want, while they do the same for us?</p> <p>I'm not advocating that you ban gift-giving altogether. But I would enourage you to reconsider how you approach holiday gift-giving this year. Here are five reasons why.</p> <h3>1. Nobody Knows What You Need More Than You</h3> <p>How many times have you had to fake liking a gift? It's painful, but we do it. That piece-of-junk kitchen appliance or ugly sweater ends up never getting used. Then you have to live with the guilt knowing that your loved one spent $50 on it for you, and you never used it. When they come over, you leave it out in the open so it appears that you have been using it after all. Kind of sad. You have a chance to end that painful cycle.</p> <h3>2. Nobody Knows What Your Loved Ones Need More Than Them</h3> <p>This is #1 flipped around. Why spend all of the time running around the herd looking for something that you're not even sure someone will like? You're wasting your time and your money, and when your loved one opens up that gift, you know they are faking their joy. Again: painful.</p> <h3>3. Mother Earth Will Thank You</h3> <p>All of this junk eventually ends up in a landfill. The human race cannot continue to exist if our current consume-and-dump ways continue. In giving up the purchase of junk, you're doing the world and the human race a great service. Change has to start somewhere, and why not with the biggest consumer-purchasing event of the year?</p> <h3>4. Stuff is Impersonal</h3> <p>Do you remember what you gave your mother five years ago? Does she?</p> <h3>5. You Don't Have to Give up Giving and Receiving</h3> <p>Just because you are actively choosing to give up the mindless purchasing of stuff does not mean you have to entirely give up the joy of giving. Have a discussion with your loved ones about how you want to handle holiday gift-giving this year. You may just find that they are relieved at your suggestion to try something new.</p> <p>Here are a few experience gift ideas that you can discuss with your loved ones:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Events:</strong><em>&nbsp;</em>Buy tickets to a play, an athletic event, a concert, movies, or a musical.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Night on the town:</strong>&nbsp;Treat someone to a nice dinner and a movie.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Food and drink:</strong>&nbsp;There are few things that people love as much as food and drink. Bake a pie, cook a really nice dinner, or buy wine.</li> </ul> <p>These are just a handful of ideas that you might like (with a good chance that your gift receivers will really appreciate them as well). And they all have one thing in common: bringing people closer together through a shared experience.</p> <p>Doesn't that sound like a tradition worth starting?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ge-miller">G.E. Miller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-the-holidays-to-teach-kids-about-money">How to Use the Holidays to Teach Kids About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-for-christmas-7-things-you-should-do-today">Get Ready for Christmas: 7 Things You Should Do Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/teach-your-kids-about-money-with-their-holiday-gift-lists">Teach Your Kids About Money With Their Holiday Gift Lists</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-goals-you-should-set-for-the-holidays">10 Money Goals You Should Set for the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-secrets-to-a-debt-free-holiday-season">8 Secrets to a Debt-Free Holiday Season</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Lifestyle alternative gifts Christmas Christmas gift ideas experience gifts gift giving holiday gifts Mon, 29 Nov 2010 13:00:08 +0000 G.E. Miller 334867 at http://www.wisebread.com The Art of the Group Gift http://www.wisebread.com/the-art-of-the-group-gift <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-art-of-the-group-gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2715349853_9ab818671e_z.jpg" alt="group gift" title="group gift" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last year, I gave a friend of mine a laptop. Another friend received a guitar. I got a trip to California.</p> <p>Are we all fabulously wealthy? No way! Our circle of friends makes liberal use of &quot;group gifts.&quot; By pooling everyone's resources, we can give people a high-end gift they will really use and love, instead of a pile of tchotchkes that will be put aside and forgotten once the party is over.</p> <p>A group gift is a pretty simple concept: everyone pitches in the $10-$30 they would have spent on a birthday or holiday gift for Susie, and Susie gets something expensive that she really wants. While simple, group giving can also become a sticky situation if done badly. Here are some guidelines for group giving. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-to-change-traditional-holiday-gift-giving">5 Reasons to Change Traditional Gift-Giving</a>)</p> <h3>Be clear who is organizing the gift.</h3> <p>Too many cooks can spoil a sauce, so let one person handle the communications and payments.</p> <h3>Be sure the gift is something your friend or family member really wants.</h3> <p>Nothing's more anticlimactic than coordinating efforts between 20 people only to have the recipient open your gift on Christmas morning and sincerely say, &quot;Oh, you shouldn't have.&quot;</p> <h3>Ask nicely.</h3> <p>Not everyone wants to contribute to your fancy present, no matter how great an idea it is. People may be strapped for cash, or planning their own gift, or simply not interested. Be sure that your invitation to chip in doesn't come off as a guilt trip.</p> <h3>Make it easy.</h3> <p>Set up a PayPal or other electronic account for people to send money to, or give them an address they can drop it off at. Choose the methods that work best for your group.</p> <h3>Plan ahead.</h3> <p>Especially at the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-tips-for-smart-and-safe-credit-card-use-during-the-holidays" title="Smart (and Safe) Credit Card Use During the Holidays">holiday season</a>, when everyone is gift shopping, it's important to let people know early if you want to do something as a group. It might be awesome to surprise Mom with a trip to Disney under her Christmas tree. But if you wait till Christmas Eve to ask your siblings to join you in paying for it, you'll find they've already done their shopping for the year.</p> <p>What kind of gifts make good group presents? Anything that is valuable to the person getting it, spendy and not particularly intimate. You probably don't want to split the cost of a pair of earrings or a dinner out, for example. Laptops, vacations, art objects and hobby supplies all make great group gifts.</p> <p>Put some thought, too, into who you want to team up with. Everyone on your birthday party invite list?&nbsp;Just your siblings to do something special for mom and dad?</p> <p>In addition to giving people more valuable gifts, group gifts are a great choice for anyone interested in a &quot;Green Christmas.&quot; Since you're giving only one gift, you're reducing demand for piles of cheap manufactured import goods, and putting your money into a quality product.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sierra-black">Sierra Black</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-art-of-the-group-gift">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-smart-reasons-to-last-minute-holiday-shop">9 Smart Reasons to Last-Minute Holiday Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-excuses-we-need-to-stop-making-about-overspending">5 Excuses We Need to Stop Making About Overspending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-prepare-for-your-best-black-friday">11 Ways to Prepare for Your Best Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-frugal-skills-you-need-to-survive-black-friday">8 Frugal Skills You Need to Survive Black Friday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-6-credit-card-moves-now-to-prepare-for-holiday-shopping">Make These 6 Credit Card Moves Now to Prepare for Holiday Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Christmas gift ideas gifts group gifts holiday shopping Holidays Wed, 02 Dec 2009 05:13:48 +0000 Sierra Black 3901 at http://www.wisebread.com