I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Monday, March 29, 2010

On the Cheap...Practical Gifts for the Graduate or Anyone...

I thought of a lot of titles for this post and couldn't decide on one. I am Spendthrift or you can call me The Practical Gift Giver.

 Gift giving is easy yet so difficult and it becomes even harder when you are trying to give on a budget. This difficulty is compounded when you have to give to more than one person.

It is that time of year when you are about to start receiving invitations to graduations from near and far. If your budget is limited you can still purchase gifts for everyone by using a little ingenuity and a big dose of my help.

First don't let what people will think of you determine what you will give as a gift. Gift giving should never be about impressing anyone. Gift giving is about showing how much you care, not about how much is spent.

Practical gifts are in my opinion, of course the best gifts to give especially for new graduates. They are in essence setting up a home, a rather small one but it is a home.  

Whether in an apartment or a dorm room and most graduates have no idea of what they will need because they have always lived with someone else. There will be someone happy with your gift, even if it is just their parents.

Here is my list of practical and easy to make gifts.

First aid or Medicine Chest

Ok, really don't go to someone else's blog until I explain. 

Your graduate has a headache, they have ten bucks until the end of the week. Do they or you really want to spend the last ten dollars on a bottle of Tylenol or Advil.

This gift set can be done even cheaper when you utilize coupons and sales. Check I Heart CVS or one of the other store specific blogs for your area.

The cost of this gift can be reduced even further if you purchase larger or family sizes and split the items between multiple graduates. Don't have the moolah to purchase in bulk? Purchase trial or travel sizes.

Combine a bottle of pain reliever, bandages, cough syrup, antibacterial hand sanitizer, Pepto or Ex-lax in an attractive container.

Depending on your nerves, this can be customized for a female with tampons, sanitary napkins, Pamprin, Summer's Eve, or other feminine products. (If you aren't that bold, add an envelope of coupons for these products along with a drug store gift card.)


You don't have to purchase the whole set. Network with friends to split the cost of a set equitably or divide the set among you. One person buys pillows, another buys the sheets and another buys the comforter. My personal favorite are the sheets made of t-shirt material. The best place I have found them are at Anna's Linen for ten dollars a set. 

The best thing we have at my home is a heated mattress pad. I love this thing to death. I have told the Hubbster I married him just for this pad. A heated mattress pad is a little pricey for the individual giver but you can again split the cost with others.

Sheets, pillows, decorative pillows, blankets, comforter, mattress pad, and don't forget the towels.

Shower Gift set

Everyone needs to be clean. You will get a frown most likely when you give this gift but they will remember you later. I gave a co worker's daughter this gift a couple of years ago. She said thanks in that droopy voice and mooped away. 

I saw her after the first semester was over, she was a different story. "Spendthrift, that basket of shower stuff you gave me. I still have most of it but my roommate was always trying to steal from it because she came without soap."

What did I give her?

Six bars of soap, three bottles of body wash, a loofah, a sponge, pumice stone and some bath beads, shower shoes, and a shower cap in a cute flowered plastic bucket that could be used as a shower caddy.

School Supplies

The very basics of school.

Paper, pens, pencils, highlighters, notepads, ruler, dictionary, thesaurus, and the most necessary item for anyone who has ever taken Freshman English - Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. This book can be found anywhere online and most times for less than five dollars used or ten dollars new.

The Get a Job set

For those graduating from college or even freshman, sophomores and juniors who will be looking for summer internships and on campus work. A resume is key. 

Help the graduate make a professional statement with resume paper, business card holder, or a gift card to UPrinting or another online print source for their own Student or Social Media & Networking business cards.

The Beauty Basket

Young ladies can be easily pleased with a basket of beauty products. Beauty products or make up like foundation can be difficult and expensive to purchase for someone else.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you can't get beauty products for cheap. Dollar stores often have nail polish for a dollar a bottle. Pick up a several with the makings of a manicure set: nail file, buffer, cotton balls, q-tips, nail polish remover. 

Need to please more than one girl or your young lady is one who doesn't paint her nails? Do the same thing with eye shadow, eyeliner, eye lash curler and mascara.

Is she more of a hair first young lady? Bobby pins, hair rollers, rubber bands, ponytail holders, hair clips, hair accessories of every color and shape, and lastly the basic combs and brushes of different shapes and sizes.

Don't just think a beauty product basket is for the ladies.

For the men:

Razors, shaving cream, after shave, body spray, soap, cologne, deodorant...

Last bit of advice

Think outside of the basket. 

Don't just purchase a basket and throw everything in it. Baskets are nice but many are bulky and do not store well.

Get storage containers that are see through and stackable to house your gifts for presentation. This gives your graduate storage as well as a unique practical gift holder.

If you will be doing a lot of gift giving I suggest buying a full set of food storage containers. Divide them up into sets. 

If you wrap the food storage containers in ribbon, you will have another set of practical presents.

You've got everything together but you feel like your present is on the light side? Anchor your gifts with a how to book that matches your theme. For a beauty basket, get a book on applying make up.

Remember the Practical Gift Giver's rules:

  • pick a theme, 
  • review the upcoming sales, 
  • find coupons, 
  • the Dollar Stores are your best friend,
  • find a non traditional container for gifting. 

That is plenty for now to spark your imagination. I will post more ideas for practical gift giving later.

What practical gifts have you given? What was the best practical gift you have ever been given?

1 comment:

  1. I'm not finished read this yet, but it's so fabulous 'n I'll back again when I was finished my job :D