August 16, 2011

Tip of the day—Stocking Stuffers and Gift Baskets

Yesterday I talked about crafting.  Making  your own gifts can be a great way to save some money around the holidays.  Another way to do so is through couponing.  Now is a good time to start building your stockpile of those types of products

  • Start collecting freebies for stocking stuffers.  We use everything from free games and toiletries to free coloring books and art supplies.  This is a great way to shave off some expenses.  Start saving your extras away now and use them later. 
  • Make gift baskets.  I do a lot of gift baskets around the holidays.  Themed baskets like movie night—inexpensive DVDs, microwave popcorn (often scored for around a quarter with sale and coupon), candy bars (usually free at drugstores with deals and coupons), homemade sodas by Hubby, and/or free drinks that you’ve picked up with coupons (Vitamin Water, for instance)—are usually a big hit.  You could also make a spa theme—add a few homemade lavender sachets to some of the Bath & Body Works items you’ve collected over the course of the year (usually free or free with purchase).  For deals on gift baskets, I suggest looking at thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales.  You can also use unconventional gift baskets like a popcorn bowl for movie night and a cloth shopping bag for a kitchen themed gift. 
  • Give your extras to others.  My mother-in-law loves to open little things.  She loves having special treats to try, and I’ll try and pick up some for her when I catch a good deal.  This includes everything from those free coffee samples that couponers score to lotions and bath salts.  I’ll usually make a big stocking or wrap everything up individually for her to open and enjoy.
  • Donate.  Around the holidays many nursing homes are more than happy to take donations of gift bags for residents.  What many people do not know is that many people in nursing homes are on Medicaid.  Medicaid pays for a lot of things, but they won’t pay for things like lotions and shampoos unless prescribed (as in a treatment shampoo or topical cream).  Residents who do not have family members bringing them those things often use what the nursing home provides.  Sometimes those are harsh on the skin and scalp.  I suggest phoning the activity director and asking for a list of residents who might need such a gift basket.  Get friends and family involved and make up some gift bags and then bring them to the residents.  You can also donate these types of products to homeless shelters, assisted housing, domestic violence shelters, community centers, and even some schools will accept them. 

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