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Low-or-No-Cost Gift ideas

They say it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gift giving, but quite often it’s the cash that counts too. According to the National Retail Federation, the average consumer spent $730 on gifts, food and decorations for the winter holidays in 2013. With costs expected to rise this year, savvy holiday shoppers find smart ways to save while still making the holidays memorable.

If your budget doesn’t allow for a blow out trip to the mall this holiday season, try these low or not cost gift ideas from the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA)

A handwritten note

In the era of electronic communications, receiving a handwritten note is rare and special. If you’re searching for a sentimental gift for someone that means a lot to you, try sitting down with a pen and paper and expressing how you feel. You may be surprised when this free gift means more to a recipient than an expensive purchased gift.

Something homemade

Are you a talented baker? Do you have a creative side? If so, try putting some sweat equity into your gifts this season. Thoughtful crafts like a knitted scarf, decorative item for the home, or homemade preserves are unique and easy on the wallet. Your loved ones will appreciate the time and care that went into creating it, while you save money.

Shop offseason

When it comes to gift-giving, procrastination doesn’t pay off. Rather than postponing your holiday shopping until the last minute, keep an eye out year round for special gifts or bargains. Buying a sweater in July for a great price is smart move, and will save you stress come holiday shopping season.

Offer your services and resources

Give the gift of help. Offer to babysit for free to give new parents a night out, lend your handyman services to a friend or give the skills of your trade or profession.

Budget shop

Online shopping is often the most convenient way to score a deal. If you have your eye on a particular gift, many sites will allow you to set up alerts to notify you when items go on sale. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop between various retailers as well. Waiting to make a purchase takes time though, so start early and exercise a little patience. It will pay off when you score a great gift for less.

Wrap it up

A gift’s presentation can elevate something simple to something special. Consider sourcing inexpensive but specials items for themed gift baskets. Do some research for highly rated but affordable beers and wines and put together a thoughtful grouping. The extra effort will make any gift more special.

Make it personal

Photos collections are an inexpensive way to make someone’s day. Many people don’t take the time to print hard copies of treasured photos, so do the legwork and surprise your friends and family with beautiful photo collages, framed pictures or a custom photo calendar.

The holidays don’t have to break the bank if you plan accordingly and get creative. For more smart budgeting and saving strategies, contact your local CPA.

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