Gifts for the Mom on a Budget

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Let’s face it: Holiday gift-giving can be tough. When you’re struggling to make ends meet, giving gifts to family and friends might seem like an impossible proposition. But remember the saying that the best gifts are those that come from the heart? That’s absolutely true — and here are some frugal ideas for gifts to get you started.

A Paperback Book. A nice book can be purchased as a gift at a used bookstore for a few dollars, sometimes for just a few cents. You can even find brand-new books that have never been opened! Make a homemade bookmark out of a small wallet-sized picture of your kids, or get artsy and create something unique out of raffia and ribbon.

Coupon Books. Want to give something but all you can spare is time? Great! Give a coupon book promising certain things to the receiver. Offer to mow their lawn, cook dinner one night, or keep their kids while they go shopping. Sometimes the gift of time is the best of all.

Recipe Cards with Favorite Recipes. Pick up recipe cards at the thrift store for pennies, and write down your favorite recipes. Tie them all together with a pretty ribbon and include a batch of homemade cookies. It’s a gift that will last a lifetime, and could even lead to new recipe traditions.

Anything Homemade. One of my favorite gifts to receive — ever — was a simple pint jar of strawberry jelly. It was delicious, given from the heart, and reminded me of my friend every time I opened it. I was so sad when it was all gone! You can give homemade goods from your garden, packaged in a pretty basket you purchased for pennies at the thrift store. If you love to sew, create a scarf or cotton lining for a bread basket — again, for only pennies.

Dinner at your house and a heartfelt letter. Offer to make dinner, and then make a point of sitting down and catching up on everything you’ve missed. Before the dinner, write a heartfelt letter to your friend, and hand it to them as they walk out the door. They will cherish the time and the words.

Small gifts of fun. If you have a little bit of money to spend, use it for movie vouchers for a friend and their kids, or purchase a gift card online — you can usually get discounts for up to 50% off if you go to places like You can also find gently-used DVDs at your local movie rental store for a few dollars apiece. Offer to watch it together and maximize the gift by spending precious time with your friend!

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