Sunday, 12 January 2014

Guest post: Birthdays on a budget - 3 clever ways to gift for less

There’s nothing worse when you’re trying to be frugal, especially if you’re implementing a New Year’s saving resolution, than looking at your calendar and seeing a sea of birthdays marked out – you know full well that they’re going to involve, at the very least, a card and a token gift.

Aside from this, you’ll have the major family birthdays which, as you get older, will grow in number – cousins and siblings have children, and perhaps even your eldest have started their own family. Whoever’s birthday it might be, you want to give them something they’ll love and appreciate, and doing so when sticking to a strict budget can be difficult. Thankfully, though, the helpful guys over at Gift Cookie have compiled a list of three key bits of advice for the best ways to buy big for less.

1. Keep Your Eye On Coupon Sites For Something Special
Weekends away, experience days or even a simple meal out can be something really special – perfect for something unique, and a great way to give something to those family members who are that bit more awkward to buy for. Parents can be tough to buy for, especially as they get much older – the want for very little, and anything they really want they’ll buy themselves.

This way, though, you give them something to do (and something they can’t forget about in a drawer!) that they’ll enjoy, and will give provide them with some memories. Restaurants and hotels are always looking to fill spaces during their quiet seasons, or to drum up business if they’re recently opened or have been refurbished, and coupon sites (of which there are dozens to choose from – let us know your faves in the comments below!) will almost always have some great deals on. Just keep your eyes peeled, subscribe to email updates and pounce on the offers when you see them!

2. Refurbished & Pre-Owned
Ok, now this might sound like the cheap side of frugal but we’re not talking about all gifts – but by selecting carefully and buying the right products from the right places, you’ll be able to save yourself some money while still giving the gift you know they’ll love. Take our kids for example – as they get older, their birthday gift desires get smaller in quantity but significantly higher in price.

Games consoles, MP3 players and smartphones are all common requests virtually as soon as they start their journey through high school – but the costs can be astronomical. It’s precisely these kinds of gifts that can become so much more affordable if bought pre-owned. You could trawl eBay for a deal, and you can often snag a bargain, but often specialist games and computing retailers will detail in second hand goods – including a minimum level of quality, sometimes a condition ‘grade’, and usually a full warranty thrown in gratis.

That way, you can virtually guarantee the same or similar condition as new, with all the cover of a new product, but by knocking anywhere from £50 to £150 off the new retail price. Older kids can always do their bit, too – ask them to chip in pocket money or paper round/Saturday job money to bring the cost down a bit, teach them the value of money and make them appreciate the gift more all in one fell swoop!

3. Track Down Personalised Gifts
They say it’s the thought that counts, and the best gifts are always those that people either wouldn’t or couldn’t buy themselves, so with this in mind what’s going to be more appreciated – a DVD someone might watch once, or something unique and memorable? Far from being the preserve of cheap tacky t-shirts or expensive high-end jewellery engraving, personalising gifts is incredibly easy and affordable. Thanks to the explosion of online shopping, with personalised gift shops like Gift Cookie, you can choose a gift that’s relevant to someone (a bottle of whisky for your dad, or a silver guitar pick for your musical offspring) and have it tagged or engraved, depending on the item, with a name and/or meaningful phrase.

You can transform a good gift into a great one – and who won’t remember the time they were bought a really personal gift? You don’t have to break the bank, and most of the gifts you can personalise are inexpensive, but it has that thoughtful touch that makes it that bit more unique and that bit more special.

This was a guest post written by Tom McShane – a blogger and writer for UK-based gift site Gift Cookie, who supply a range of personalised gifts for all occasions.