Spending Money Wisely: Giving Meaningful Gifts

First Financial Bank
Luckily you don’t have to break the bank to find a meaningful gift that your friends and loved ones will enjoy.

Every year, the average person is spending approximately $1000 for gifts during the holiday season alone. Then throughout the year there are birthdays, baby showers, weddings, graduations, housewarmings, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days – and more. You want to acknowledge each of these wonderful events with a great gift, but the spending can get out of control. And the reality is that an expensive gift is not necessarily one that will have the greatest meaning to the recipient.

Luckily you don’t have to break the bank to find a meaningful gift that your friends and loved ones will enjoy. Many times an inexpensive, yet thoughtful gift is the one that is cherished the most. Keep these ten low-cost, meaningful ideas in mind next time you need to find just the right gift:

1. Baked and Other Homemade Goodies

The holiday season warrants some of the best baked goods of the year from gingerbread and yule log cake, to rugelach and linzer cookies. These holiday treats make for a thoughtful gift that’s great for your parents, grandparents, teachers, or holiday party hosts. Baked goods at any time of year are a low-cost gift with simple ingredients like flour, eggs, and butter that go a long way, so you get the best bang for your buck.

Prefer cooking over baking? How about giving a reusable container of your homemade chicken soup – and a handwritten copy of the recipe – as a housewarming gift for your niece or nephew’s first apartment? They’ll appreciate the homemade dinner now and the opportunity to try their hand at replicating it later.

2. Shared time and experiences

When it comes to your loved ones, memories of time spent together are more valuable than any tangible gift. Take your grandparents out to dinner, go ice skating with your niece or nephew, or be a tourist in your own city with your partner. Capture a moment (or two!) with your phone/camera. Opting for an experience over a physical gift may not only save you money, but the shared memory of your time together will last forever.

3. Family heirloom

Does your teenage daughter look forward to those “special occasions” when she gets to wear the pearl earrings you got from your grandmother? Give them to her for her next birthday or high school graduation. Items you have like family photo albums, jewelry, watches, dishes, furniture or artwork are great gift ideas that cost nothing, but can have so much meaning. Are there stories that go with the items about who it belonged to or how it came to become a “family heirloom”? Document that for the recipient. Family heirlooms make for the perfect low-cost gift and can be passed down for generations to come; they are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

4. Charitable donation

For the person or family that doesn’t really “need” anything, this meaningful gift is just right. Instead, donate a gift to charity in their honor. If you aren’t sure what causes they prefer, you can give gifts to programs like Family Reach’s Hope for the Holidays, which helps families dealing with pediatric cancer, or the local arts program in their hometown. There are a variety of well-run charities and reviews/ratings on them listed on Charity Navigator that may give you some ideas. You may even look into volunteering with your loved one at a local food bank or soup kitchen during the holidays to give back to your community and make special memories together.

5. Handmade gifts by little hands

Some of the best gift ideas can be found in a kindergarten classroom. Have your children paint flower pots or picture frames, design their own ornaments, or create popsicle stick snowflakes. These gifts are great for parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles who love meaningful gifts that hold sentimental value. Even better, these gifts are often inexpensive to make and your kids will have fun doing it.

6. Invest in their future

Another gift that keeps on giving is an investment account at First Financial Bank. Want to help your child or grandchild learn how to save? Open a Statement Savings Account with them. It pays competitive interest payouts that compound and are credited quarterly. How about a gift for the new grad? Think about a Certificate of Deposit (CDs) – it is a fixed-rate investment that offers higher interest than regular savings at rates that increase with the length of term. And what about the newly married or becoming parents? A First Money Market Account, offers a higher interest than regular savings and may be just right. Accounts like this cost anywhere from $25-$500 to open, and the investment can go a long way for helping your loved one establish a better financial future.

7. House plants

Have a green thumb? Share one of your offshoots with your offspring! Provide some information on “care and feeding” to help them keep it growing. House plants are a low-cost gift that will brighten up any home and can be lovely for many occasions. Love plants but not your skill set? Visit your local plant shop or an online store like The Sill, and pick out a plant that suits your loved one best. With some water and sunshine, this gift could last for years.

8. Museum, zoo or aquarium membership

Trying to find the perfect gift for a couple or family? Try a membership for their local aquarium, zoo or museum. There are thousands of museums across the country – and one for every interest, whether sports, arts, horticulture, history – and many, many more! And most have very reasonable annual membership fees that give the members extras such as “behind the scenes” tours, special events and learning opportunities.

9. Handmade scarf, hat, or mittens

A handmade clothing item is a low-cost gift idea that’s perfect for anyone in the family. Yarn is inexpensive (typically about $3-15 per pack), yet can be made into an invaluable present for your loved one that they’ll wear and enjoy all season long.

10. Cookbook

For the food-lovers in your life, a new cookbook makes for a wonderful gift that they’ll keep for years. You can find cookbooks for just about any cuisine, and many are under $20 – and support independent bookstores at the same time. To personalize the gift, write your favorite recipes on a few index cards and slide them into the cookbook for your loved one to find. Not only will they get more recipes to try, but the gift will have a meaningful, personal touch as well.


Gift shopping can be overwhelming, but you can ease some of the stress by keeping your items low-cost and opting for a meaningful gift instead of a costly gift. Not only will it keep you within budget, but your loved ones will appreciate the thoughtfulness and care you put into their gift.

Want to chat more about meaningful financial gifts for your loved ones? Give us a call at 800-562-6896.


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