Wednesday, December 3

DIY gifts: The lazy/busy person's version

Around this time of year, lots of columns and blogs will provide suggestions for gifts you can make (or give) for little to no money.

And that's a great resource, which I highly encourage you to take advantage of.


I am a big proponent in thinking through the gifts you give. Put yourself in the recipient's shoes. How many candles will you actually use? How many seed-bead necklaces will you actually wear?

This isn't to be mean. I've given my fair share of gifts that never get used. Beaded items that were slightly amateurish. Knit/crochet items, also.

So these days, I try to be more in the frame of mind that I would rather give my friends/family a kind card or holiday greeting than something that clutters their house until they can discreetly donate it or throw it away.

Also, given my limited energy and money situations, these gifts all have to fit in the category of being not too time-consuming/requiring much investment in supplies.

I'll be throwing out ideas over the next couple of weeks, which will hopefully help at least a couple people find/make thoughtful, cheap, lasting gifts.

And so, on to the first idea:


This gift idea is great because it has a lot of permutations:

  • Parents love a nice, framed picture of their kid(s) for desks or general display.
  • You can go to the family archivist (all families have one) and get a good shot of a recently lost loved one.
  • You can do a generational snapshot: grandparents, your parents, yourselves.
  • You can get a great group shot of the whole family. (Also good for mass gifts.)

My dad was always hard to buy for. He mainly got himself what he wanted. So we were narrowed down to getting him his annual runner's diary or a new sweater. One year, I struck gold with probably one of his favorite gifts I ever gave: A nicely framed picture of me for his desk. He was thrilled and repeated over and over how much he loved it.

Tim's grandmother recently passed away. We already have a shot of ourselves with her at our wedding. (She passed away about two weeks later.) So Tim's idea is to get a hinged, horizontal two-picture frame, and find a picture of his grandfather. Then arrange the pictures so he is looking over at us. A great gift for Tim's dad.

If we can't find that picture, I am suggesting that we get a generational shot in a threefold frame: The grandparents' wedding day, the parents' wedding day, our wedding day.

Really, this is a personal selection, so I can't give you much advice on the actual picture. But here are a few points to remember for general cost purposes:

  • Walgreens and Sam's Club/Costco generally have the cheapest digital prints at around 10-15 cents each.
  • Joann's & Michael's practically always have 40% ads in the local papers, plus a good selection of frames. Don't forget that each one accepts competitor's coupons.
  • If you prefer other stores, Tuesday Morning/Big Lots/Ross also have lots of frames. (Tuesday Morning also has a clearance section within its frame section.)


In the spirit of cheap giving, I will also occasionally feature a very-affordable item or two that are available through the shops I'm an affiliate of.

I'm the first to admit that -- though often awesome -- the Marvel Shop/WB shop/Cartoon Network shop items are often slightly above many of our more frugal gift budgets. But they do have some great items on sale.

Since I'm a complete sucker for Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, today I thought I'd show two items that are very affordable but also terrific for the Foster's freak in your life.

This "I heart Bloo Cheese" throw is 50" by 60" and is discounted from $24.95 down to $6.74. Cute, comfy and cheap!

This is just too cute not to include. It's a Bloo "Smoosh" pillow with microbeads. As far as I can tell, it's basically a 13" beanbag that you can squeeze to your lil heart's content. He's $12.97.


Blogger Shtinkykat said...

One of the nicest gift I ever received was a framed picture of the lilies at a local botanical garden. The frame was purchased inexpensively at Tuesday Morning. But looking at it, you wouldn't know. This is a great suggestion!

December 3, 2008 at 8:47 PM

Blogger Abby said...


Thanks for the kudos. And your story reminds me of the other use for photo-giving: pretty pictures you can find cheaply/take yourself. Michael's and sometimes Joann's tend to have some pretty, unframed pictures -- and you can use those 40% off coupons to your advantage.

Also, a great local shop called 4 Corners has a section of prints under $10. Some are by local artists, some are more traditional and others are photographs. But many of them would make wonderful gifts, if you feel confident in your friends' tastes.

December 3, 2008 at 9:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to be a little more sensible with Christmas this year, and I still want there to be a nice amount of presents to open...but I don't want to buy cheap junk just for the sake of having more presents under the tree. I'm doing the picture frame thing for someone's pets. With digital cameras, people don't get pics off of their computers as much anymore, so I had a print made and got a nice frame for $3. It puts another gift under the tree, it doesn't put a dent in my wallet, and I know she will love it.

December 4, 2008 at 6:41 AM

Blogger Shevy said...

We're going to buy Hubby's folks a picture frame for Hanukkah and put Dear Child's gorgeous school picture in it. Wow, something I know they'll like.

December 5, 2008 at 1:25 AM

Blogger Donna said...

Bonochick: What a great idea! Be sure to save copies of the animal photographs -- you might be able to turn this into a part-time business and the previous pix would be your "portfolio."
I know a guy in Anchorage who was an amateur photographer who, with his wife, owned a lot of pets. He had a way with animals and eventually turned his love of photography into a full-fledged business. (Hint: A treat in the shooter's hand focuses a dog's attention MARVELOUSLY. So does a clicker.)

December 5, 2008 at 9:12 AM


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