Wednesday, September 14, 2011
10 Cheap Gift Ideas
The second trouble with Groupon, which is true for any gift certificate, is that yes, your friend, boss, or bridezilla will know exactly what you spent, and possibly judge you. If you find a deal that puts you so far below your gift-giving budget, pass some of the savings along to them, and make it a gift pack. Throw in some nice shea butter lotion so she can remoisturize and extend that heavenly massageousity, and your favorite kind of tea to continue her relaxation day.
1. Mix CD
[Blank CD $.50 + CD case $.50 = $1]
This gift requires a maximum of thoughtfulness at a minimum of cost. You can burn songs you've already got, or buy some on iTunes - click here for some ready-made playlists you can download. Take some time designing a cool cover, or just cut out a square of wrapping paper and write the tracklist on the back. It's a great, personalized gift that will be enjoyed for years.
2. A Nice Card and an Instant Scratch-Off Ticket
[Card $4 + Lotto ticket $2 = $6]
A sweet or hilarious birthday memento and the chance to win thousands of dollars? Great gift, super cheap.
3. Lemon juicer and pitcher
If your friend loves to cook, there are a million fun kitchen toys you can buy him or her. Personally, I love the ceramic lemon juicer my boyfriend gave me - it's sunny yellow, and won't crack from fatigue like my plastic one did. And now I mentally thank him everytime I need fresh lemon juice and don't have to gouge my fingers into the lemon like it owes me money.
4. A Great Book
5. Adhesive Mustaches
7. A Cool Calendar
Pick the right calendar to match your friend, and he'll be thinking of you all year long. I'm already on the lookout for the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies 2012 calendar.
8. Massage Groupon
See! You are a great friend. This particular massage is valued at $105, but at half off, it's still quite the gesture.
9. Box of Table Linens and Dishtowel
[$35 tablecloth + $40 eight cloth napkins + $6 fun dishtowel = $81]
For less than the cost of a full-priced massage, you can put together an amazing box set of linens - something that will dress up your friend's table for the next decade.
10. Chipotle Chile Candied Pecans
[$30 ingredients + $1 canning jar or other container + optional bottle of bourbon]
Finally, here's a delicious gift that you can make yourself. This recipe comes from the book Gifts Cooks Love by Diane Morgan - it's an awesome find and I recommend it if you are the sort of person who loves spending more time than money on a gift.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp ground chipotle chile powder
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb. large pecan halves
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300degrees F. Have ready a large, rimmed baking sheet, preferably nonstick for easy cleanup.
2. Melt the butter on the baking sheet in the oven. Be careful not to let the butter brown. Set aside.
3. Combine the chile powder and brown sugar in a small bowl. Pour the vanilla over the brown sugar. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add 1/4 tsp salt and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar mixture 2 Tbsp at a time, beating on high speed to form a strong, shiny meringue. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the nuts until they are well coated.
5. Gently tip the rimmed baking sheet so the butter coats the bottom of the pan. Using a rubber spatula, spread the nuts over the butter, without stirring, to form an even layer without deflating the meringue.