• Why Thoughtful Presents Always Trump Expensive Ones

    When I was younger, I worried quite a bit about the gifts that I needed to get for some of the people I cared most about in my life. I’d worry and worry about picking out an item that would really show exactly how much I cared for them. Inevitably, that meant spending quite a …

  • A Gift That Matters

    As we approach the gift-giving season for many families, with Hanukkah starting on November 28, Christmas on December 25, and more than a few families celebrating Christmas somewhere between Thanksgiving and New Years, I wanted to suggest a very thoughtful idea for the young ones in your life. If you have a young child that …

  • Twelve Gifts That Encourage Frugality

    My favorite gifts (besides board games, I suppose) are ones that encourage me to make positive changes in my life. Items that encourage me to cook at home, lose weight, learn a new skill, or save a little money are ones that I really value, because I know that they can help me push toward …

  • Giving Gifts That Can’t Be Bought on Black Friday

    Two Christmases ago, Sarah and I gave almost everyone we know gifts that we made ourselves, from scratch. It was the single most fulfilling Christmas either one of us has had in a very long time. The fulfillment didn’t come as a result of the savings, although our financial cost for that Christmas gift-giving season …

  • Six Simple Gifts to Make Between Now and Christmas

    Two years ago, I ran a fall article series on homemade gifts, which I then gave out to relatives that Christmas. Naturally, some of the gifts were bigger hits than others. After the series was over, I gave some thought as to the amount of effort I put into the gifts in exchange for how …

  • Need a Frugal Gift for Someone? Relieve Some of Their Pressure

    In July, my wife and I are attending a wedding for a couple that we’re very close to. As that date approaches, the couple is pretty heavily involved in planning things – and they’re really beginning to realize how many little things there are to take care of. Meanwhile, there’s another couple that are close …

  • Homemade Gift Series: Wrap-Up (Both Literally and Otherwise)

    Throughout the fall, I ran a series of posts on homemade gifts with enough lead time so that interested parties could make some of the gifts on their own if they so chose. I wanted to top off the series by listing all of the items in the series, showing off the small mountain of …

  • Homemade Gift Series, Extra Edition: Photo Cubes

    This is a last-minute extra addition to the homemade gift series. Sarah and I have gone back and forth for a long while about whether to post this one in the series, but when we showed the items to several people as we were making them, the comments from them were almost universal: “You need …

  • Homemade Gift Series #10: Homemade Cookies and Gift Bundle

    In the coming week, we’re going to be giving a few early small seasonal gifts to people, so with that in mind, we put the final finishing touches on our first gift basket, utilizing some of the items we already made. One component of many of our baskets this year is going to be cookies. …

  • Homemade Gift Series #9: Handmade Ornaments

    This year, we decided to make a big batch of handmade Christmas tree ornaments for our home, just to make some “homey” Christmas items to decorate with. We decided to make them in the style of Christmas sugar cookies, with dough that would harden and look roughly like such cookies. As we were making them, …

  • Homemade Gift Series #8: Personalized Cards and Stationery

    A few years ago, Rachel gave my wife Sarah a wonderful Christmas gift: some beautifully-constructed stationery with photos of her own choosing placed on the front of note cards, along with envelopes to mail them in. Here are three examples that Sarah has kept: As you can see, there’s some variety in the cards – …

  • Homemade Gift Series #5: Wine Jelly

    “Not everyone will like the caramel apple jam,” Sarah commented to me after we made it. As much as I liked it, I knew she was right: it was very sweet and lacked the tartness that I often crave in my jellies and jams. So we decided to make another jelly/jam, this time doing something …

  • Homemade Gift Series #4: Homemade Beer

    I often brew homemade beer. It’s an enjoyable hobby that allows me to sometimes use items from my garden and gets me deeply in touch with the natural process of making a homecrafted beer. I have complete control over the ingredients and can make whatever variation seems good to me with whatever ingredients seem flavorful …

  • Homemade Gift Series #3: Caramel Apple Jam

    A few weeks ago, my wife stopped by a roadside stand where an individual was selling apples. A lot of apples. My wife asked if there were any deals, and the seller told her that he would sell her 8 1/2 pounds of “seconds” (apples that had been dropped and needed to be used quickly) …

  • Homemade Gift Series #2: Homemade Soap

    Let’s just start this one off with two big, giant warnings! Warning #1 Making soap at home can be very fun and rewarding, and if done right, it can be an inexpensive way to make gifts. But it can also be very dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken. Before starting any soap-making project, please familiarize …

  • Homemade Gift Series #1: Vanilla Extract

    For the last few years, one of the most prized possessions in our pantry has been a gigantic bottle of imported Mexican vanilla extract. It’s not that imitation stuff that you get on sale at the store, with weak vanilla flavor and added sweetener. This stuff is pure unsweetened vanilla extract. It makes pies and …

  • On Homemade Christmas Gifts

    A few weeks ago, my wife and I were chatting about some of the best Christmas gifts we’ve ever received. Many great Christmas memories from childhood came up, as did some other great memories from various holidays since our marriage. Yet, when we both began to list some of our favorite gifts received over the …

  • Finding the Perfect Gift Without Spending Too Much

    As I write this, I’ve spent about five hours online hunting down “perfect” gifts for various people on our Christmas shopping list. In almost every case, I wound up spending less than our target dollar amount on our list. In almost every case, as well, I found a gift that I think is utterly perfect …

  • “So, What Do You Want for Christmas?”

    Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard this question several times from various people who find me on their Christmas gift list this year. I’m guessing they’re all thinking more or less the same thing: what do you get for a guy who doesn’t really want anything? So they ask me, and then I’m left …