My all time favorite? A weekend away with my husband and then-baby girl!
"Expensive!" you may say, but no, it was free.
My husband has a friend with a farm, and in the middle of the farm is a small, renovated Civil War-era cabin. As my birthday approached six years ago, he took them up on their offer for us to spend a weekend there - which was perfect for this full-time teacher with a new baby. I was stressed and sleep-deprived, and my husband knew it.
The cabin was gorgeous - simple, full of wood and quilts, with no heat except for a fireplace. My husband kept the whole thing a surprise and packed everything for all of three of us. When the weekend arrived, he made a few secret trips out there with our stuff and started a fire, then came back and picked up the baby and I. We spent the weekend playing games, reading, and taking naps by the fire. He did all the cooking - and even took cleaning supplies to clean out the bathtub and give me a candlelight bath with fresh rose petals!
My husband went to a ton of time and trouble for this weekend, but it cost us nothing - and was a fantastic gift to me. He knew the best thing he could give me was rest and time together, and this weekend met those needs as nothing else could have.
If you have a weekend retreat, garage apartment, lake house, or empty rental, consider gifting a night or weekend to someone you know. (Two years ago Red Roof Inn ran a promotion where you could get rooms for $1.15 a night. I kidnapped my husband and we spent a fun weekend in a nearby town, so watch for special deals, too!) It would make a most memorable gift!
Looking for a gift on a smaller scale? Consider these:
- Themed gifts are always fun. A movie night basket is fun for the whole family. Throw a movie or rental gift card, some popcorn, candy or cookies, and a candle into popcorn container.
- Date nights are incredible gifts for most couples. Consider giving a coupon for a few hours of babysitting time. Paying a babysitter on top of the cost of doing anything out as a couple greatly increases the cost of even the simplest date.
- Removing regular duties can be a great blessing for new parents. I love to cook and bake, and that hasn't changed as my family has grown. It has made it a bit trickier at times, however, and when two colleagues offered to bring us dinner after our daughter was born, we thought it sweet. When they arrived, however, we discovered that they'd gone all out. Now, these two are not exactly known for their kitchen skills, even though they're good cooks; they just choose to spend their time elsewhere. In this case, they delivered a complete meal that showcased their thoughtfulness without pulling them away from their own families. They brought: a chicken casserole, a bagged salad, a bottle of salad dressing, a plate of baked brownies, and a carton of ice cream. Simple, complete, and (somewhat) healthy with the chocolate this new mommy was craving. Cooking not your thing? One neighbor offers to do our laundry each time she hears that someone is sick.
What sorts of frugal gifts do you like to give - and to receive?