With the holiday season coming up, and purse strings tighter than usual, I've been thinking of frugal ways to check people off my list. Here's a few ideas to show the people you love you're thinking of them... without spending more than $5.
1) Knitted slippers, mittens or scarves. I've never read a pattern before and my "skills" are limited to "knit and purl," but I'm chugging through this slipper pattern with relative ease. Where there's a will (or lack of funds) there's a way!
2) Baked homemade treats. Think outside the box and go beyond festive cookies and candy. Why not try your hand at homemade bagels? They're perfect for a holiday brunch, extremely inexpensive and you will impress the shit out of everyone. If you don't usually have baking stuff on hand, I recommend buying your supplies at a bulk store to get exactly what you need and keep your costs under $5.
3) "Coupons." Remember when you were little and would give coupons for things like hugs, dish-washing, making your bed, etc? Take that idea further and make little tokens representing a skill you now have that you can teach or share with someone (i.e. sewing, knitting, cooking or baking a specific dish, skating, skiing, chess, I dunno... calculus?! Whatever it is you are good at and think the gift-receiver has an interest in learning more about). Make sure they actually "cash them in" and don't get lost like they might have when you were a scheming little brat.
4) Download it. Download a season or two of a favourite TV show and plop it on a DVD. Hand-write or print out an episode list. Illegal? Maybe. Virtually free? Yes. (har har).
5) Thrift stores finds! Books, framed pictures, records, one-of-a-kind knick-knacks can all be found for under $5.
And if you're not really a DIY type...
6) My favourite Toronto spots for holiday gifts are The Drake General Store and SOMA Chocolatemaker. Both are a little pricey on the regular, but during the holidays you can still indulge in a few things for under $5. At the General Store this budget will get you Arko Shaving Soap, a retro shaving soap perfect for any man in your life. At SOMA, you can't go wrong with hand-crafted truffles made with real cream and butter, containing no preservatives. These little guys are worth the $2 a piece because they take up to three days to complete.
Hope these ideas help, or at the very least, I hope they start a fire under your butt to get going on that list!