June is a perfect time for weddings — and graduations — and, sadly, an empty pocketbook from paying for presents for all those graduations and weddings! Stretch your money further with these tips:
For graduations —
*Give the grad a book that’s changed your own outlook on life. Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success is one of my favorites — and a reminder that practice and persistence are even more crucial than talent. Another favorite is The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. You couldn’t choose a more practical look at earning and saving, from the viewpoint of frugal wealth.
Make the book even more welcome by including a small check, tucked somewhere in the first third. If the check’s cashed, you get a nice boost, knowing that your recipient took the time to look through the book!
*Other good presents for the grad, especially if they’re going on to college or graduate school: rolls of quarters (good for laundry); a Starbucks, Panera or fast food gift card (for cold, rainy days when they’re broke); stylish leather blank books or folders, for journaling and classes; an address book, pre-filled in with family information, plus stationery and a roll of stamps; a case of their favorite drink or food, if they’re not moving too far away. (Daughter #1 loves mushroom soup, cold out of the can, and was thrilled to get a case to take with her. I know…but she does!) Post-21 grads will appreciate specialty beer or wine. You’ll find more ideas here, here and here. (BeingFrugal, the last contributor, remembers a present her aunt wrapped in dollar bills — what a great idea!)
For weddings —
*Have you been holding onto a family heirloom that’s important…but not exactly your taste? If your bride-to-be’s taste is in antiques, don’t hesitate to polish that silver platter or set of glasses up and re-gift them — she’ll appreciate their family connection, as well. (Other possibilities — antique quilts, table linens, candlestick holders, etc. Just be sure they like this sort of thing before you gift them.)
*Small appliances are more reasonably priced than ever — especially if you plan ahead, and purchase them during January clearance sales. (Prices aren’t bad now, either — just remember for next year.) A coffee pot (with a pound of their favorite brew), one of those great portable blenders that let you mix right in the glass. Perhaps a toaster or microwave oven. These may seem a tad blasé — but your recipient will think of you whenever they use them.
*What about a portable picnic? Baskets are not only often on sale — but you can find them at consignment and thrift shops, as well. Include paper plates and napkins, plastic ware and even a few goblets. (Add the wine and some snacks if your budget permits.)
*Christmas lights…special ones, that is. Or fancy ornaments. (Once again, this is something most easily purchased in January.) Our Christmas tree is famous for its bubble lights…and a number of our friends now have them too.
Whatever you give, remember: it’s not the money that counts — it’s the love.
Cindy Brick just counted — and has four high school graduations, four college ones, and a wedding in their circle of family and friends. (Ouch.) She also blogs at her own site, A Brick Looks At Life.