Six ways to make a gift meaningful on any budget

Each summer the halls of Hallmark are filled with smart and dynamic interns. They’re always eager to learn the ins and outs of what we do while also teaching us a thing or two while they’re here! Case in point: Creative Intern, Annica A., has some thoughtful ways to give gifts while watching your wallet. Read on for her inspiring and budget-friendly ideas!

Meaningful Gifts |

Like all of us over the years, I’ve been both a gifter and a giftee. I’ve come to realize that giving gifts is an important way I can show others that I care about them. It makes the time spent crafting presents for the people I love a real pleasure. There’s something deeply satisfying when I can give a gift that fits someone’s passions and interests to a tee.

While everyone wants to give something meaningful and beautiful, not everyone has the resources of a billionaire (or in my case, even a hundred-aire!). As a sometimes-broke college student, I’ve developed tips and tricks that don’t break the bank while still creating meaningful connections.

Meaningful Gifts |

Meaningful Gifts |

Meaningful Gifts |

Create a collection of well-curated (and purposeful) trinkets.

One year, when my friend Sarah was interning at Walt Disney World, she was deeply homesick for her home state of Kansas. I knew she was having a hard time when she told me she even missed our local grocery stores! For her birthday gift I went to Kansas Sampler with twenty dollars in my hand and bought a variety of little Kansas-themed gifts like chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a tornado snow globe, a Christmas ornament of Dorothy’s slippers, and samples of Jack Stack BBQ sauce and Louisburg cider. I packaged them up in a decorated box and shipped them off. It was a ton of fun for me and (I hope) incredibly meaningful for her. Other sources for curating collections could be thrift stores, candy shops, themed stores, and even Etsy!

Meaningful Gifts |

Meaningful Gifts |

Add a personal touch to an existing item.

Easy ways to add meaning to gifts are to include notes, personalized decorations, or even personalize the gifts themselves. When my aunt got married, I was in college and struggling just to feed myself, so I couldn’t afford an extravagant wedding gift. I went to the Dollar Store, grabbed a couple of plain, white mugs, and then monogrammed them with a Sharpie. It’s a simple gift, but in this case it really is the thought that counts. If you’re not confident in your design skills, you can cover the mugs with abstract shapes, colors, and patterns.

Meaningful Gifts |

Put together a DIY baking kit.

If you already have all the typical baking supplies (flour, sugar, baking powder/soda, etc.,) you can easily, cheaply, and quickly mix together a baking mix, hot cocoa mix, or even a soup mix. Pinterest is rife with these types of recipes, and well worth a quick review for inspiration. After making the mix, you can add a personalized touch such as a crafted decoration or a hand-written recipe card. If the recipient values experiences over things and loves food – and who doesn’t love food? – they’ll eat this up.

Pro Tip: Check out the awesome instant DIY chai mix I found!

Include a nod to something specific to your relationship.

If there’s a TV show or movie that you both enjoy, pick an iconic reference from it and include it in a big or small way through words, pictures, or relevant items. If there’s something you frequently say to each other, make a small token that incorporates that phrase. My parents will say, “It’s true, it’s true” after (and sometimes instead of) saying “I love you,” so when making a gift, sending a card, writing a letter, or even sending a personal text to them, I often tack on this phrase.

Meaningful Gifts |

For my friend Sarah’s birthday this summer, I’ll be creating a trophy plush. Why a trophy? Even though we both love the thrill of finding or making the perfect gift, we frequently fail at actually giving it at the proper time. Gifts can accumulate over the course of months, and it’s not uncommon for us to give gifts for two or three occasions all at once. (Adulting is hard. Don’t judge.) So I’m making her a trophy for being the “Bestest Gifter Ever” because of our constant jokes about how bad we are at physically handing over the gifts. (FYI, it’s weeks after her birthday and I finally finished making the darn thing. Maybe I deserve the trophy!)

Meaningful Gifts |

Write a letter.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been blown away by the thoughtfulness of the people in my life, simply because they wrote a letter. I’ve heard people say that letter writing is a dying art, but I believe it’s coming back, and the rarity of it makes it even more significant. A sweetly worded letter can easily be paired with any gift, or it can even be the gift itself. If the recipient is someone who thrives when praised or who frequently lavishes kind words on others, this gift will hit the mark.

Infuse your gift with the wisdom of previous generations.

For my bridal shower, a family friend gave me a gift that I’ll always remember, even though it wasn’t very costly. The gift was a bottle of high quality maple syrup and she included a handwritten family recipe for waffles. The recipe had been passed down through her family for generations. It was a thoughtful and generous gesture. For our wedding, she continued the theme by giving us a waffle maker, but it is the thoughtfulness of her original gift that has stuck with me. The simple passing along of something treasured over time, like recipes, tips and tricks, pearls of wisdom, etc., can be a meaningful gift.

Meaningful Gifts |

And, of course, no gift would be complete without a healthy dose of Hallmark gift wrap, tissue paper, and confetti!

I loved having this opportunity to share my tips and trick with you. My greatest hope is that you have found something here not worth keeping, but worth giving. Have fun!

Have you given cute gifts on a budget? We would love to hear about them. Be sure to tag us on Instagram @think.make.share.



Leave a Comment

  1. 6.16.19 | Reply
    Yvonne Su wrote:

    I love this! Going to bookmark this for future gift ideas. So personal.