No one likes showing up to a birthday party without a gift. But at times there are reasons beyond your control for not being able to have one. Perhaps you couldn’t find the coveted jewelry they wanted, completely forgot about the party until day of and didn’t find anything gift-able, or, worse yet, didn’t have the money to get anything. But what if you could make a sentimental, heartfelt, and enjoyable gift for just under $10?
Back in November of 2011, I had just started seeing my boyfriend at the time, J.S. We were planning to celebrate his 25th birthday with a low-key dinner and bowling night, but of course I wanted to get him something special as his girlfriend. In late September, I took a trip back to California for family matters. At the airport, preparing to go back to Texas, I realized that both my debit card and driver’s license were missing. I was fortunate enough to have enough information on me to make the flight back home. However, my two cards were still missing.
I got that all sorted out eventually, but in the meantime, I had NO idea how I was going to get a gift for J.S. with just $30 cash in my name for the next week or so. I decided that I wasn’t to spend more than $15 on his birthday (gift and bowling included), that way I saved the other half for gas, food, and other necessities until my replacement debit card came in the mail. I did the math and decided I needed to save at least $6 for the bowling alley. But what could I get for under $9 at such sort notice that really meant something?
And so began the gift that actually impressed my boyfriend and showed him how thoughtful I can be:
The Thrifty Gift: Riddles and Rhymes
Total cost for this gift: $7.86
Total time spent: 1 day
Appreciation towards gift: Undoubted
The riddles and rhymes gift became a combination of Pinterest pins involving inexpensive gifts. I whipped them all together with a few of my own ideas for a 6-piece gift. Each piece had a numbered riddle attached. A note in the gift explained that he was to start with #1 and work his way to #6, trying to guess what each gift was based on the riddle before opening it. Each object inside was tailored towards a specific item he had mentioned liking in passing as we dated. It’s perfect for those celebrating their 6-month-iversary, 6 year anniversary, or a birthday with your significant other. (Please forgive the terribly unfocused pictures. As you can imagine, it was a pretty hectic week, and I hadn’t quite figured out my phone’s zoom and focus features just yet! But an out of focus example is better than no example,right?)
Wrapping paper: $1 at Dollar Tree
Ribbon: leftover ($1 at Dollar Tree)
Greeting card covers used as numbered riddle cards: leftover ($2.50 at Staples Center)
I noticed that a set of thank you cards I already had somewhat matched the polka dot pattern of my wrapping paper. So, I used scissors to cut off the decorative front and pasted the riddles on the back of it.
J.S. had told me that he doesn’t drink much soda pop, but when he does he prefers Coke Zero. So, using this information, I added the soda riddle to a wrapped up single bottle of Coke Zero.
Coke Zero: $1.32 at gas station
Total so far: $2.32
J.S. had also mentioned his fondness of pistachio nuts over others. I thought the cheesy but cute riddle was a great touch to giving him that snack.
Pistachio Nuts: $1.25 at grocery store
Total so far: $3.57
The boyfriend never mentioned liking Rice Krispy Treats, but I couldn’t help but add this one in!
One Rice Krispy Treat: $1 at gas station
Total so far: $4.57
I was always stealing his gum, so I thought this was a great way to repay him for all the times he attributed to my minty breath.
Orbit gum: $1.29 at gas station
Total so far: $5.86
Alright, to explain this one I have to let the cat out of the bag. J.S. and I actually met on Plenty of Fish, a free online dating site. I had just moved from California and was looking to meet new people, friends or otherwise. He had been in Dallas from Michigan for some time with no luck in meeting the right person. And there you have it. I threw in some Swedish Fish candy to the mix in order to add this clever, personal riddle.
Swedish fish: $1 at Dollar Tree
Total so far: $6.86
This last one was by far my favorite item of the bunch, and actually the most cost-efficient! I found out through a random Pinterest posting that it’s possible to create your own, printable subway art at Wordle. Using terms I knew about J.S. in the few months we dated and taking advantage of the extra Matte photo paper I had on hand from a previous photography course, I created a keepsake he still displays in his room.
Picture frame: $1 at Dollar Tree
Total for gift: $7.86
The boyfriend was touched that I had put so much thought and effort into this gift; it didn’t matter the cost. I, personally, would be so appreciative if someone took the time to set up a gift like this for me. The ‘ole saying “It’s the thought that counts” really rings true in this case.
All of the riddles (save for #5 and #6) are available for print from The Dating Divas.
If you try this out, let me know how it works out for you! I’d love to see your completed gift sets! 🙂