You're invited to...a one year old's birthday party...a christening...your adult sister's birthday...AAAAHHHHH!
Sometimes I feel like the world is just full of people trying to sabotage my frugal lifestyle. Just yesterday I got invited to a Southern Living Home Fashion Party. I don't even know what one could expect to find at such a party, nor do I care. I declined the invitation, not rudely, just firmly. I'm not going to hang out at my friend's house, eat her food and then not help her earn points to get her free stuff. No, I'll just sit this one out.
But what about the other times, when you have to go and you have to bring a gift? Here are some ideas that have been working well for me and a few I intend to try.
My sister lives across the country in Arizona. Anything I get her needs to be easily transported and appropriate for her climate. I'd be a frugal fool if I made her an afghan or a scarf. I found a cross stitch project that she had started and abandoned when we were kids. I completed and framed it and sent it out to her. There was much debate at my house, was this a good or a bad present? The answer came in a phone call from my sister. She loved it.
The one year old birthday party is trickier. This little girl is the youngest of three kids. She's got all the toys and clothes a child could want or need. I settled on a small canvas tote bag (just her size) with a handmade teddy bear inside. I embroidered the tote with her name, added a small cross stitch of a little girl to the front and viola! The teddy bear is very simple and made of felt with button eyes. She'll be getting this on Sunday so I'll post her reaction afterwards.
For the christening I'm finishing up a cross stitch sampler that will framed for the baby's room.
By now you may be running around, screaming, "BUT I DON'T LIKE CROSS STITCHING!!!" Fear not, I cross stitch because I enjoy it and I'm good at it. What do you like to do? If you figure out what you're good at and what you enjoy, the rest is easier. Also, having a hobby that uses your hands prevents you from stuffing your face, an added bonus.
I do cross stitches even when I don't have a particular occasion in mind. That helps me avoid being unprepared. I recently read an article in Mother Earth News archives about making granny squares. The writer's grandmother (I think it was her grandmother) kept a trunk full of granny squares so at a moments notice she could put together a special afghan. I like that idea, although I don't know how to make granny squares yet. Its on my to do list.
The bigger lesson, is make sure you personlize the gift to the person who's receiving it.