How to Choose the Best Birthday Gifts on a Budget

With my birthday on Wednesday and Steve's at the end of the month, we're all about the celebrating in August.  But birthdays and other celebrations that require gifts, meals out and all the other palaver that we feel is essential for celebrating can cost a fortune.  What can you do when money is tight?

Of course, spending money is not essential to celebrating someone's special day with them, it's all about showing your love and appreciation, spending time together and making memories.  So forget the money and invest plenty of thought, creativity and care to help create a wonderful birthday that your special friend or loved one will remember forever.

Create a Special Day

It has been proven that valuing experiences over possessions makes people happier, so why not make their birthday day as special as possible, rather than buying yet another gift that they will never use.

  • Make meal times special.  A picnic on the beach, in the forest, in the garden or just on the sitting room floor is always fun.  Or plan a lovely lunch or dinner with their favourite food, drinks and maybe some honoured guests too.

  • Plan a breakfast picnic with pastries, croissants, juice and maybe some fizz (Aldi & Lidl always score high in taste tests).  Or give them a proper breakfast in bed.  Decorate the tray with fresh flowers, add a napkin and favourite china.

  • Plan a surprise outing to a favourite place, somewhere with special memories, or somewhere completely new.  Pack a picnic and your camera and off you go.

  • Plan a day trip around something they love, such as art, birdwatching or history.  It doesn't have to cost more than a bit of petrol or a train ticket and a picnic, even in winter!  We love a 'car-nic'!

Whatever you do and wherever you go, make the whole day all about the birthday girl or boy.  Decorate the house, make time for them to have a long bath, read on a hammock, run 10k or whatever it is they want to do.  From waking up to bedtime, make it a wonderful day.

Thrifty Birthday Gifts

"Oh you shouldn’t have!" may be a cliché, but we all want to get that special present that they actually really, really want.  That doesn't mean you need to get the priciest thing off the shelf and shove it in a gift bag; effort is the key.  Here's how to get the perfect gift on a budget:

  • Try picking up on clues and ideas all year.  Maybe you can find a special gift, such as something they collect or love, from a charity shop or car boot sale.  Clean it up and who cares where it came from!

  • Get behind the idea that re-gifting is OK.  If your great aunt gives you a vase you loathe but you know your friend will love it, pass it on.  As long as no-one finds out then everybody's happy.

  • Create a modern mix tape on iPod or Spotify.  Fill a play list with songs they love or have meaning to you both.

  • Home-made cards will always go down well, especially if you have children to make them.  If not, get arty with photos you've taken or try your hand at a bit of abstract art.

  • If you're really up to it, make a gift too.  Crochet, knit or sew if you can, or maybe take a class.  Try a woodworking class and create something, or take a wonderful photo and have it blown up the pop it in a nice frame.  For wildlife lover you could make them a bird table, bird house or bug hotel from scraps of wood.

  • Bake a gift like cookies, or measure out the ingredients and layer them in a jar with the recipe attached on a luggage label for a stylish and fun gift.  Or you could make up a hot chocolate gift set or hamper of favourite foods.  They don't have to be pricey things, it's just the things they love, even if it is tins of Spam and baked beans!  Or try one of these other home-made gift ideas.

    Whatever you decide to do, remember that it really is the thought that counts.  Start planning now for the next big occasion and you'll be able to give them a wonderful day to remember, without spending a fortune.

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