The holidays will be here before you know it, and chances are you have a long list of people to buy gifts for. Often, the hardest gifts to choose while maintaining a budget are the ones for people you don't know well, like teachers, or for those that seem to already have it all, like your parents. The following are a few inexpensive ideas that can help you out with these challenging recipients:
A simple gift basket with a few gourmet treats is almost always appropriate. Visit a farmer's market in the fall and stock up on local goodies, like jams, fancy cheeses, and even wines and beer. These can be saved in the pantry or freezer until December when you will have them on hand to fill out a basket. Add a pretty tea towel and some nice crackers or homemade bread to finish the gift.
Many people are a fan of coffee, and there are a couple of ways you can turn this into a simple, affordable gift. If you know the recipient's coffee preference, simply get them a bag of their favorite fancy bean, either pre-ground or whole. Another option is to get a travel mug and tuck a small gift card to a local cafe inside. Add some chocolate covered espresso beans to really make the gift special.
A movie night in a basket can be the perfect gift. Add a couple of bottles of gourmet soda, a box or two of movie-size candy treats, some microwave popcorn, and a DVD of a flick you think they will like. If you aren't sure what movie to choose, pick up a gift card to a local rental service or for a service like Redbox. This will allow them to choose their own favorite movie. If the recipient is more of a reader than a film buff, switch out the movie for a desired book or a book store gift card.
Sweet treats are nearly always appreciated. For the creative types, create a basket with plain sugar cookies in a variety of shapes, either store bought or homemade. Then, include a selection of frosting, sprinkles, and other cookie decorating supplies to create a decorate-it-yourself cookie basket. If the recipient enjoys cookies more than decorating them, then simply fill the basket with some pretty cookies and a tin of gourmet cocoa mix. Don't forget to include a copy of the sugar cookie recipe, in case the recipient wants to recreate the yummy cookies themselves some day.