I didn’t really used to care too much about having an arsenal of $5 gifts, as we mercifully have small families and I’ve been fortunate to spend anywhere from $20-$50 per person on Christmas in the past. Most gifts end up somewhere in the middle – coupons, sale shopping throughout the year, free Shutterfly codes, knowing what to buy at the dollar store (and just as importantly, what to skip) all help me get a lot of bang for those bucks.
But this year, Little Man is in school, which means teacher gifts are in order – and spending $20 per person for school gifts (I can think of 4 people at school we should give gifts to) will quickly add up! It’s not that I don’t want to be generous – if anyone deserves a lovely, well thought out gift, it’s our teachers. But I think we can still achieve those aims on a frugal budget, so I set out to research gifts that could be put together for just $5 each – and were something a teacher would actually use and enjoy. This is what I found.
Custom Notepads – Just Another Day in Paradise (She shows you how to design and make the actual notepads at home using PicMonkey and your home printer, which is awesome – but if you collect free Shutterfly product codes, you can make one through them and pay just the price of shipping – usually around $6 for notepads – if the time is more valuable to you than the money.)
Notice a theme here? Most of these are gift cards. People just have so much stuff. And I’ll admit it – I know my son’s teacher in the context of being his teacher – I don’t know what she likes or dislikes personally, what her favorite foods are (or for that matter, is she has food allergies), which cute little kitchen products or hats and mittens she already owns. For those that we know professionally, or are just beginning to know, gift cards are really the best option, because they still show your appreciation, but allow the recipient to choose something that they would truly enjoy or use.
For us this year, I think we’re going to do the Redbox gift set – you can buy a set of 5 codes for just $7.50, and with some popcorn and candy thrown in, it makes a nice gift for under $5 each. I would bet 99% of all people enjoy a good movie, and the Redbox codes never expire. I’m going to do a little twist on mine – I had some wonderful popcorn from the farmers market, so I’m going to package it up a cute jar or box (I have adorable red paper milk boxes I might use – haven’t decided yet), and include some paper bags for popping the corn – I’ll print the instructions right on the bag in a decorative font. And I’ll include a single serving of olive oil (I have packets on hand, but may spring for mini bottles) and some sugar in the raw packets in order to turn it into home made kettle corn. You can find mini olive oils at Cost Plus, or you can order them online from Minimus – they have an amazing selection of miniature food products, as well as health, beauty, cleaning products, games, etc. I’ve ordered from them before and loved them – great stuff for gift baskets, stocking stuffers and camping. And no I do not get any compensation of any kind for endorsing them (they probably don’t even know), I just like them that much.