Thursday, August 21, 2008

Something for everyone . . . cheap!

I’m frugal, but not fanatically so. (My husband does thank me for not washing and re-using plastic zipper bags—a common practice for both my mom and grandma.) Many of the things I do naturally are second nature, so I have a hard time thinking of them as tips, money-saving or otherwise. However, after giving this one some thought (then posing the question to my family), we remembered a favorite tradition that is also a money-saving tip.

Our family isn’t that large, but we all get together for Christmas. If we allowed each of our children to pay retail prices for gifts for their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, we’d go broke.

When the kids were preschoolers, Bret and I wanted to teach them about the joy of giving as well as getting presents. That meant we had to allow them to give—to actually spend money to purchase (or make) gifts.

Enter Dollar Tree! This outlet—or any dollar store—offers everything from candles to extension cords, from wicker baskets to hair bows. And the beauty of the “system” is that nothing costs more than $1.00.

My daughter Molly, who must’ve gotten in line twice for the gift-giving gene, likes giving almost as much as getting. She’s very thoughtful and considers the needs and interests of every recipient. As she scanned her list, she spoke out loud, “OK, Uncle Corey. He does construction.” (Actually, at the time, he built roads and bridges, but he’s also quite the handyman.) She scanned shelves and peg displays until her eyes lit on duct tape. “Perfect,” she said, pulling off one roll and adding it to her cart. “He’ll really be able to use this.”

At the time, I laughed a little—under my breath; however, in truth, it turned out to be one of his favorite gifts. Extremely practical, he appreciated her considering his interests and trying to imagine what he might really like.

And the best part for Bret and me? We enabled our children’s generosity without breaking the family bank.

Kids come up with some of the best gift ideas! Share some of your childrens' brilliance with us . . .

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