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Frugal Gift Ideas, Part 2 - Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip

Frugal Gift Ideas, Part 2

If you arrived at this page after searching for "Starcrest of California," please note that yes, this company is mentioned in the article, my shopping experience with them was many years ago, and I have no further information. But because you're frugal, I know you will enjoy and find useful the rest of this article on frugal gift ideas, which is taken from my ebook, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook and was reprinted in my Monthly Frugal Fun Tips newsletter in December, 1998. That issue is archived below. Please visit the newsletter archives for more frugal fun ideas every month since May 1997.

As promised last December when I ran Part 1, here's the second part of the section of The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook covering frugal gifts. Part 1 is archived at

Just to remind you that this material is fully protected under copyright law and is not to be circulated without permission.


Handcrafted Items

Even if itıs not what you usually do, experiment with making gifts from scratch. The range is enormous: wood, leather, metal, clay, embroidery, crocheting and knitting, even plastic. It wonıt matter if your creations are a bit rough‹consider them folk art! The love in them will show through. And who knows? Maybe youıll get good enough to turn your hobby into a livelihood. Gifts can include practical things, such as clothing, dishes, blankets, kitchen gadget holders, or those purely for pleasure.

Original Writing, Music, or Art

Express your love in a poem, short story, song, even a letter. Itıs fun, itıs from the heart, and it will be remembered. Make a painting, drawing, or photograph. Create and illustrate original custom greeting cards or picture books. Give the recipient a serenade, or a dramatic reading. Call up on the phone and deliver your own singing telegram.


Put together a photo album or scrapbook of forgotten moments in your special personıs life. Round up old friends from high school and make an audio or videotape of their recollections. Draw a family genealogical chart.

Novelty and Gag Gifts

One of my favorite gifts was a two-dollar present from my daughter. Itıs a little gadget that serves no useful purpose except to be silly‹but it gets me out of a bad mood or through a bout of writerıs block. Iıll try to describe it: a wooden bead, then a plastic bead, then a hollow globe made of four strips of reflective foil, then another plastic bead‹and the whole thing slides up and down a braided wire. You can either push it up and down with the wooden bead, or turn it upside down repeatedly to watch the globe drop on its own. I have so much fun with mine that Iıve nearly worn it out!

There are dozens of similar novelties around‹little one-trick things that donıt take up much room or make a big dent in any budget.

Raid a toy store, yard sale, or bargain bin for joke presents: a box of crayons for an artist, toy dishes for a cook; a package of sliced ham for a ham radio aficionado, an infantıs bouncy ball for a soccer player.

Niche Products

Some mail-order houses specialize in inexpensive, "why-didn't-I-think-of-that" products that do one thing simply and well‹maybe something you never thought you needed help with until you saw the catalog. Starcrest of California, for instance (909-657-2793), offers dozens of products, many of them between $2 and $20, that make great gifts. Some examples: an auxiliary rear view mirror to remove blind spots when changing lanes or merging; an FM/TV antenna amplifier; a windshield defogging glove; a battery-operated flashlight with a Velcro mount; fasteners to keep bedsheets in place.

Return to the Frugal Fun Tips Archives
Preview Shel Horowitz's Penny Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook a 280-page e-book that shows you how to save a big pile of money on travel, dining, entertainment, recreation, and all sorts of other fun.
This article originally appeared in Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tips. Please click here for your free subscription.

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