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The Coupon Lady

Gifts from Your Stockpile: Gift Baskets

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Ahh, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Over the past two weeks, I have featured ideas about giving frugal homemade food gifts made from items in your stockpile. This week, I’d like to move on to some other ideas for readers who might not be interested in baking their holiday gifts but still wish to keep budgets under control.

Your stockpile can be an endless source for giving. One thing that I am doing is making some family mem­bers a “care package” gift basket. I found medium-sized Christmas-patterned market totes on Black Friday for $4 each. They are perfect for putting together a large mix of items.

My baskets include cereals, pastas, spaghetti sauce, rice, canned foods, pancake mixes, cookie and muffin mixes, condiments, razors, shave gels, shampoos, conditioners, toothbrushes, toothpastes and body washes. These are perfect items for any care packages. Although these items might not seem like a great gift idea by themselves, packaged together in a cute basket with ribbon and tags they will make an impressive display.

These types of gifts are not new to me. I did similar ones on Mother’s Day for my mother and grandmother. My grandmother was very happy to receive hers and raved about it to my mother for weeks. According to her, it was “one of the most thoughtful presents she had ever received.”

Recently, my mother asked if we would consider giving both her and my grandmother baskets again for Christmas. My grandmother, like many other retirees, has been feeling the pinch of rising food, electric, heating and gas prices and finding that her retirement income does not stretch like before. My mother and grandmother do not coupon; they live in Alabama in an area that has a local sales tax of 10 percent (including food) and does not have any grocery store chains that double coupons. By giving my mother and grandmother a gift with products that have a retail value of at least $100, they can enjoy the season a little more and not worry about how they will afford Christmas dinner. Each basket cost me around $15 to $20 to fill using coupons and sales.

If a large care package doesn’t appeal to you, you can add extra items to make a themed gift. Any of these can be made with items found at most dollar stores.

All gift sets start out with a basket, shredded paper (for arranging) and clear gift basket wrap.

Coffee lovers: Three or four small bags of coffee, one or two coffee mugs from the dollar store, chocolate and hard candies.

Spa: Scented candles, body wash, conditioner, sham­poo and lotions. Bath mitts, hair towels and sponges from the dollar store could be added.

Movie lovers: One or two bargain movies (from those Black Friday deals), popcorn, Redbox movie codes and assorted candy. Some of the dollar stores carry the theater-size boxes of candy and cute popcorn containers that would give the present an authentic feel.

Parents’ night out: Pop­corn, candy, popcorn containers and restaurant and Fandango gift certificates. Fandango, the online ticket seller for most of our local movie theaters, routinely offers discounted gift certificates on daily deal sites. One of these sites recently offered two movie tickets and a restaurant.com gift certificate for $25. By adding a few items to bulk up the basket, you have a wonderful gift for around $30.

Bakers: Cookie and muffin mixes, kitchen spoon, spatula, kitchen towels, and an oven mitt.

Don’t forget our friends and families overseas. I have a younger brother in Afghanistan, and although he can get many everyday items at the nearest PX or commissary, we love to send him care packages. His favorites are snack foods that he can’t get there, such as certain types of beef jerky, nut mixes, Combos and Yoo Hoo. I like to add toothbrushes, toothpastes and T-shirts. We also like sending each other weird items as jokes, such as strange toys and icky candy. My children once sent their uncle Harry Potter-inspired candies: Cockroach Clusters, Acid Pops and Every Flavor Jelly Beans.

Next week we will talk about getting ready for the New Year. Merry Christmas!

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Free coupon classes with Carol Gunter will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 27 and 29 at The Augusta Chronicle News Building, 725 Broad St. Seating is limited; to reserve a spot for Dec. 27, log on to smartshopper1227.eventbrite.com; for Dec. 29, go to smart shopper1229.eventbrite.com.


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