Art of Frugal Giving, Part III – The Gift of Experience

This is the third and final installment of a short series of blogs showcasing different ways you can give inexpensive but meaningful gifts to the ones you love. You can read my two previous installments about the Gift of Thought and the Gift of Craft. Today’s entry is about the Gift of Experience.

In a world where we put a lot of focus on things, we often lose sight of what’s truly important. What’s more important than spending time with those you love the most? It’s a gift that gives back, brings as much joy as it provides.

The Gift of Nature

PHOTO COURTESY of Longwood Gardens

Does your loved one love the outdoors? Hiking? Trail-running? Why not take them on a back woods adventure, if you can drive to one. Or camping. If they’re not quite as outdoorsy, what about a drive through the mountains with a picnic? Even a trip to a secluded beach if you live near the ocean or a lake could be lovely. Even if being outdoorsy isn’t YOUR thing, your loved one will appreciate you choosing to spend time with them in an environment they love.

The Gift of Culture



This amazing country of ours has an extensive museum system. Many of them are free (especially if you’re lucky enough to live close to Washington, DC and access the Smithsonian museum system). I know here in the Philadelphia area we have an exquisite Museum of Art, as well as the more offbeat Mutter Museum. Add to that all the historical significance of the area and you have a plethora of selections. Surely your loved one will love one of them! Are you a good cook? What about helping your loved one explore new foods? Cook them a nice dinner and enjoy it together.

The Gift of Learning

There are few things in life that help people bond more than learning something together. Is there a local class you could take together? Perhaps pottery, cooking or birdwatching. Or maybe something more active, like an exercise class, interpretive dance, or learning a musical instrument? These don’t have to be expensive. If money is really tight, invite your loved one over, fire up and learn something via video! (I’ll tell you a deep dark secret, don’t tell anyone okay? If I don’t know how to do something, I Google it! I have learned so much this way, included how to do hoop knitting. You can do it, too!) My favorite learning gift is cooking together. Does your loved one have a favorite recipe of yours? Show them how you make it, or work on perfecting a new recipe together.

This concludes my three part series on frugal gift giving! I really hope you found some value in these types of gifts and that you use some for your loved ones! I know I will be! Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Merry Kwanzaa, etc, etc!

Art of Frugal Giving, Part I – The Gift of Thought


This is easily proven by my neighbors’ Christmas decorations, which have already been up for more than a WEEK.

NOT SHOWN: The fact that no one else has even taken down their harvest decorations yet. 

Between now and Christmas, I’m going to be doing a short series of blogs showcasing different ways you can give inexpensive but meaningful gifts to the ones you love. Today’s entry is about the Gift of Thought.

Make a Mixtape

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Try choosing some well known songs and mixing in more obscure choices. 

It’s been done a million times before by a million different people, it’s true, but when done right, a mixtape can convey any emotion you desire. If you can’t afford to purchase the music you need, try handwriting a list of the songs and asking your loved one to look up the songs on YouTube. Maybe even make it into a booklet and include some of your favorite lyrics. Try to find a common theme or two to tie the songs together along the length of the mix tape. Examples: light, gold, water, nature, etc.

Try to choose songs you like, but that you also think your loved one would like. Take your time, put thought into it. Tell a story with your music. A really well done mixtape will unfold over time, revealing deeper and deeper meaning to the listener.

Write Your Story

2015-11-17 21.08.58.jpgDo you remember how you met? What about writing down the story of the first time you laid eyes on your loved one. Use as much detail as possible. Try and remember how you felt when you met your loved one. Did they comfort you? Make you laugh? Do you remember what they were wearing? Try to include silly things, like if your shoelace came untied, or if you spilled coffee everywhere.

Write Your Reasons

2015-11-17 21.36.26Tell your loved one why you love them. Have you been friends for 10 years? Give them 10 reasons. Write it out by hand, or make a document and set it up in a nice format. I wrote this for my dad the year before he died, and had it professionally framed. Now it hangs in my living room, so I can remember that I told him how much I loved him while I still could.

Better Than a Gift Card

The best part about these gifts, is spending time thinking about your loved one in depth like this helps you, too. It gives you a greater sense of appreciation, and reminds you what it means to truly care for someone. In times of gift giving it’s easy to get caught up in how much you have to spend and lose sight of what giving is really all about.

Stay tuned for the next entry in this short series on gift giving!

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