Hi everyone! This is Part Two of Extravagant Gifts on a Budget. If you haven’t read the first installment, please do! In that article, I discussed the joy of giving and receiving unexpected gifts and went over one of the most important issues: beautiful wrapping.

Why? Because the wrapping is the first thing to delight a recipient. Thoughtful wrapping elevates a gift and is a work of art itself. Wrapping doesn’t have to be complicated; simplicity with good taste is everything. Exquisite wrapping can totally be done on a budget.

In the first article, we covered the categories of Shiny and Tiny, A Taste of Luxury and Consumable Gifts. Now, let’s continue our hunt for luxury gifts!

 
 

Artisanal Chic Is the Luxe Way to Say Homemade

Homemade is heart made. What is something truly unique, that ONLY you can give? It’s something that you make. That, right there, makes it priceless. When someone has taken the time and their talent to make me an artisanal gift… it’s the ultimate.

I am a cook and a baker, so my gift might be a jar of my glistening, jewel-like orange marmalade with a handwritten label and a chic ribbon. My marmalade is so exclusive; you couldn’t buy it in a store if you tried. It goes without saying it’s gourmet, all natural with no thickeners or chemical preservatives.

As presentation is everything, I found marvelous small cellophane bags at a craft shop that I fill with different delights. I’ve filled them with mini madeleines baked in a mold I bought in Paris or everyone’s favorite Chocolate Crackles. Hello glamour with a bow! A handwritten gift tag attached with a ribbon makes the gift swoonable.

Another year I filled the cellophane bags with my chunky, handmade caramels, and another year it was fresh pasta. I love baking mini loaves of pumpkin or zucchini breads, artfully wrapped in… brown Kraft paper of course.

If you have a craft… start crafting! One year a gardening friend delighted me with a bulb planted in a clay pot. Knitting, crocheting, paper making, candle making, flower arranging… It’s all good. You know all those cellphone photos we snap? I’ve printed out photographs of friends that I’ve snapped during the year and presented them in a pretty envelope with a bow. No one does that and everyone loves it.

Give Experiences, Not Things

The gift of your time and your attention is the utmost extravagance and is a gift only you can give. I’ve given a “voucher” for a coffee date in a cafe, a “claim ticket” for a midweek movie night dinner in my home, a “coupon” for a guest visit to my gym.

If you have a skill or a talent, give a treat of your time. Maybe you give good manicures. Or you can organize a linen closet. Invite a friend to your gym. These are lovely luxuries that everyone would love to receive. Think about your recipients and what they might need or love to have in their lives.

Give People What They Need, Not What They Want

These are things that people don’t think of buying for themselves, but they need. Two examples come to mind immediately: potholders and coasters. Who goes out coaster shopping? Or pot holder shopping?

I kid you not, every time I’ve given potholders, people have been thrilled and immediately tossed their “seen better days” (i.e., funky!) potholders into the bin right then and there. They didn’t even know they needed them or wanted them and now they’re thrilled. I’m sure you can think of other gifts in this category. What I love receiving are cool dishtowels. Won’t shop for them, but love it when I get one.

When in Doubt, and It Rhymes: Underwear and Skincare

Of course, you don’t give underwear to a stranger… but in keeping with the thought of gifts that delight, and crossing into the category of gifts that we need, getting a pair of uber cool socks, or a perfect pair of undies, or a tube of luscious hand creme or moisturizer is always a hit in our family and among friends.

Drugstore skincare has evolved with much of the same technology as the department store brands. In fact, many of the upscale brands have mass market/drugstore lines. Same technology, different packaging. Do your research on the internet and buy the dupes (that’s duplicates in the beauty biz.) Dupes are cool these days, says my DD.

Shopping Smart

You don’t need me to tell you the usual tips — shopping in outlets or discount stores — that goes without saying. Another idea is to buy one thing in bulk and then preciously wrap each item separately for giving to various people.

Shop with an open mind and think creatively: You can find the coolest things in drugstores, the supermarket or office supply stores. I am one of those people who is always on the lookout for gifts; I buy them when I see them, or when they’re on sale, and then put them away until needed. I get amazing gifts that way.

Have fun this holiday season, surprising people who make your life sweeter. Please share your gift ideas and best gifts received below. We’re always ready to be delighted with your comments!

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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