How To Party Cheap
Gift giving can be an expensive part of (party) life. Besides the regular holidays there are birthdays and showers and weddings and anniversaries and graduations and religious celebrations. Presents, presents and more presents...It can add up very quickly.
You don't have to run to the store and make a purchase whenever you get another invitation, however. We think you should try to think "outside of the box". There are alternatives to traditional gift giving ideas. Many things cost nothing or very little but have a sentimental value that can't have a price put on it. We're talking about gifts from the heart: homemade gifts or gifts of time, talents or skills.
And while we are on the subject of gifts that cost nothing or very little, it's a good time to talk about the "regift". Regifting has become an accepted part of our culture. However, there are rules that need to be followed...faithfully, unless you want to risk a regifting faux pas...
Before we go over the rules you need to first ask yourself a very important question: Why do you want to regift the item?
Is the item just something that you don't need? Do you already have the item? Is it the wrong color or style for your tastes? Do you just not have room for it? As long as the item is in good condition but just doesn't meet your needs and you know someone who could use the item then go ahead. However, if the item is just ugly, useless, or impractical, why would someone else want it? If this is the case then give it away or throw it out.
Okay, if you've got the basics figured out then we are ready to move onto the rules:
The most important thing to remember is who the gift came from originally. You need to write down the info in a notebook or on a piece of paper that you keep nearby. Okay, now make sure that the gift doesn't go back to that person, family or anyone in that social circle.
Make sure that you remove the note that you made for yourself and remove any other gift tags or cards that might have come with the gift originally. It seems so obvious, but apparently it isn't.
You should unwrap any gift that you receive—first, so that you can get a good look at it and second, since you do want to make sure that there aren't any hidden notes or cards inside—then spend a few dollars and wrap the gift all over again just before you give it away.
If it's obvious that the gift has been sitting around the house for years—the style, the colors, the discontinued product or the company that no longer exists—think again. Don't give it as a gift, per se, but if you think it's perfect for your friend or family member just offer it as a "just love you and want to give you something" kind of freewill offering. My mother-in-law liked to give "just because" gifts every once in a while—they weren't connected to holidays or birthdays. They created their own special occasion.
If it's been used, it is not an item that should be regifted. Used items are hand-me-downs and should be given away personally—as in, "I don't need this, would you like it?"—or through freecycle.com or sold online as an used item—eBay, classifiedads, kijiji, etc.
The bottom line is that any gift should be chosen based on the needs, wants and preferences of the individual you are giving the gift to. If a regift works in those parameters than great, if not, then go out and find something else that does.
We can't think about celebrations without thinking about gift giving. If the cost of buying gifts has knocked the party spirit out of you then consider giving a non-traditional gift: a gift that isn't purchased from a store but that comes from the heart. These gifts may become the most treasured gifts of all. It is alright to regift if you do it responsibly. You need to follow the regifting guidelines if you want to avoid a social faux pas.
P.S. The tenth chapter of our personal finance book: Power Spending: Getting More For Less, is about How to Party Cheap. There are three sections: We're having a party, Keep it down (the cost that is) and Gift giving. When you plan a party you need to think about how, what, when, where and why. You will be able to save in every aspect of party planning If you follow our tips. You can even save money when it comes time to give a gift. Think about what you have to offer if you share your talents, skills and hobbies. We also give you the regifting "know how" so that you don't mess up. Please regift responsibly!