consumer affairs bermuda

Budget gifts for girlfriends

11/19/2010 | For the past few years my close girlfriends and I decided that instead of going overboard on Christmas presents for each other, we would keep it simple. With so many other people in our lives — sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren — we are all looking for ways to save money. We could not completely kick the gift-giving habit but agreed to be somewhat frugal yet thoughtful.

One of my girlfriends loves to bake and surprised me with a huge jar of sugar cookies and a dozen homemade rolls. I truly enjoyed both and was able to share them with my family during Christmas dinner.

For her, I found a really nice pizza stone and this turned out to be a gift all of us girls enjoyed throughout the year.

Another friend really likes lobster but going for a lobster dinner is an extravagance she cannot justify at present.

I got her a nice Bermuda lobster for $30. I even cut it and cleaned it so all she had to do was prep and cook. She was thrilled to receive this simple luxury.

For another friend I asked my mom, who has a green thumb, to grow a banana tree and hibiscus bush and we planted it in her front yard as her Christmas gift.

She had been talking about doing this herself for months and never got around to it. She was both surprised and thrilled and she now has her first bunch of bananas.

This gift cost absolutely nothing except time, patience and a little TLC. Both plants were cuttings from my yard — we had a three-month lead so that they were a nice size for our Christmas planting.

Everyone has friends who enjoy wine. Fortunately, my vino-drinking friends have a few favourites that cost less than $20.

I always buy them a bottle, put it in a nice wine bag and throw in an unusual wine stopper or corkscrew.

This is truly a gift that I know will be put to good use. Lastly, for the girls who truly have everything, I pull out my creative juices and make homemade coupons.

For my friend who always bugs me to invite her for dinner and make macaroni and cheese, I gave her three coupons for my home cooking, valid for one year.

I have a friend whose daughter has a mobile beauty service and I got a coupon from her for an in-home manicure for another friend. I bartered the cost by giving her a coupon for one free babysitting day.

One of my older girlfriends who lives alone is always complaining about DIY.

I gave her a gift certificate for a handyman for the day. He fixed the screen door, hung the mirror in her dining room, painted the bedroom, changed the outside light and took care of all the little projects she had been putting off for months.

The nice thing about this gift is that it cost me nothing. This handyman had asked me for help marketing his business and was willing to pay me. I simply bartered my services for his.

Other inexpensive gifts my girlfriends and I love to exchange are bottles of organic olive oil, spice mixes, artisan cheeses, gourmet coffees and anything useful for the kitchen since we all like to cook.

Every year I get Christmas gifts that I do not need, like, will not use and quite frankly do not reflect my tastes at all.

Thankfully, my girlfriends and I know each other’s tastes and even when we are being frugal, we give gifts that will be appreciated.

Honey Adams is the education officer for the office of Consumer Affairs.