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Gift-giving on a tight budget


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I've recently been convicted that I don't speak my hubbys primary love-language often enough. Problem is that we're on a super tight budget (we lost 2/3 of our normal monthly income last fall and it doesn't appear that'll be changing anytime soon) and his primary love-language is gift-giving. Besides food (making him special treats to gift him with, buying an occasional candy bar, etc.), I'm looking for creative ideas on how I can fill his gift-giving love-tank without breaking the bank. Even just buying him a book every week is not in our budget right now, but I'd like to do something several times a week for a while. I'd love any ideas you have! :)

Edited by 4kookiekids
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Coupons. You can make your own with construction paper, stickers, markers, etc or there are free printable ones online. You can make them for whatever gift you want! These can be anything from cleaning his car, to much more ‘creative’ after-hours things 😉

ETA: homemade cards are nice too. Just a sweet letter telling him how much he’s appreciated.

Edited by mmasc
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I was going to say coupons too unless he'd rather see it as a surprise. Try a massage. We use coconut oil. It can be a spot massage like shoulders and neck or hands, or you can offer a full body massage but that takes longer.

 

Try thrift stores. A new gently used shirt can be cheap.

 

A candle which can be a symbol of loving if you know what I mean.

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Flowers picked from your yard and set in a vase

An offer to run an errand for him (might count as acts of service, but if it's unexpected it can be a gift)

A lipstick kiss or a heart drawn on his mirror

Setting up a warm epsom salt foot soak on a night you notice he is tired 

 

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Flowers picked from your yard and set in a vase

An offer to run an errand for him (might count as acts of service, but if it's unexpected it can be a gift)

A lipstick kiss or a heart drawn on his mirror

Setting up a warm epsom salt foot soak on a night you notice he is tired 

 

Flowers from the yard?  Where do you live?!  It's the dead of winter here!

 

:laugh:

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Flowers-sometimes, a single rose with a cute little note or poem can be more meaningful than a full bouquet

 

Books-can usually be found inexpensively at Goodwill, I think they are only like $2 or so.  And for that matter, you can often find all sorts of random stuff at Goodwill, sometimes even brand new. 

 

 

Some other ideas

-new coffee mug

-write him a little love note and tape it to his steering wheel after he's in bed so he finds it in the morning when he heads to work

-Funky socks if he's into that sort of thing

-random small gadgets that make relaxing around the house easy (like new universal remote if he likes tv, a football shaped dip holder if he likes to watch football, etc)

 

Really though, the key to gift giving is to pay attention to the person and recognizing the things that are important to them.  For example, if he's grumbling about his phone charger not working right, maybe you pick up one of those next time you are out, and wrap it up with a note about him still being the spark in your life or something.  If he's talking about wishing it was spring so that he could go take a long bike ride, maybe you get him a new water bottle and attachment for his bike and give it to him on that first nice day.  Or whatever.  The idea is to make the gifts personal. 

 

You might consider starting yourself a little "gift giving envelope."  Every week, you put a buck or two or three in it, and then when you spot that one ball cap you KNOW he would like on clearance, for example, you have the money in the envelope to get it.

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Flowers from the yard?  Where do you live?!  It's the dead of winter here!

 

:laugh:

 

I live in the desert and there are roses and other flowers blooming right now.  I don't know where the OP lives, but eventually it will be an appropriate suggestion! 

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Thanks for all the great ideas so far! Gift-giving is last on my list of things-I-care-about, and it often feels like a frivolous waste of money to me... I'm more of a quality time and physical affection sort of girl. So I'm trying hard just to come up with more ways to step outside of my normal comfort zone and way of thinking. 

 

It's hard to wait until he wants or needs something, because he's a relatively impulsive buyer and will just go out and buy anything he needs, rather than grumbling about a situation.

 

But the thrift store is a great idea. He doesn't like "junk", but sometimes, you can really find something neat there. And he does really like coffee cups, if I found some neat ones used or on-the-cheap. Great ideas! This is so helpful. I can't wait to get more ideas!

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This is my love language also. I obviously can't speak for your husband, but I will say that *for me* it doesn't have to be anything expensive or big. In fact, much like happysmileylady says ... it's more about the gift being personal to me that makes me feel loved. The example of the phone charger was perfect - the gift is the vehicle that shows the love of someone who is hearing me, and anticipating on my behalf or meeting a need or just appreciating me/what I do. 

 

Some examples from my own home:

I was up all night with a teething baby - my husband brings me a large coffee and donut

I am struggling with Son #3 so Son #1 (who is away at college) sends me a "Thinking of you" card

Son #3 is doing school at the library because I want to punch his face, and he brings home a DVD he thinks I'll like, as a peace-offering. 

Son #2 hears me tell husband that I have to wash the car this weekend. He surprises me by doing it himself, inside included. Best ever!

More struggling with Son #3 and my ex-husband takes me to dinner. Taco Casa, total bill $4. The gift was letting me vent w/o "helping." LOL

Son #3 sees me stuck in the chair with the sick, nursing baby, and asks if I need anything. The gift of noticing I'm stuck was free, and the offer appreciated.

Daughter folds the laundry for me so I can take my second long bath in a day. Sons #3 and #5 (the baby) are eventually going to kill me LOL.

 

The bigger gifts are nice, too, don't get me wrong! The book, the (nice) dinner out, the flowers ... but *for me* the thought behind the gift is what makes me feel most loved. The tangible gift is the gravy. I love gravy, but it's not the only important part! 

 

Good luck to you both, what a very sweet thing for you to be doing!

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Even if his love language is gift giving, I wonder if you're assuming he needs/wants gifts all the time? That's just not practical with such a dramatic drop to income. I might show love with gifts, but it's not my love language so I may not be correct here. Do you think he might not want you to spend extra money now?

 

 

Ha ha. No, he definitely wants to spend even more money right now, just because it makes him feel like we're not so broke. He doesn't have the best financial sense, and has no concept of how quickly things add up. He's pretty honest about the fact that credit cards don't feel like real money to him - it's just free money you can do with what you want! lol. Needless to say, we view money differently. But I don't want lack of funds to stop me from gifting him, which is why I'm looking for ideas. I baked him cornbread after he went to bed last night and left it for him to find this morning with a little note (he gets up at 3am and leaves for work by 415am), and he wrote me that it just made his whole morning. Yes, it involved spending *some* money - but almost nothing (corn meal and flour and eggs are dirt cheap) - so I felt like this was a win-win.  Thanks for this thought, though! If he were different, it would definitely be good food for thought! :)

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Can you do a library date night?  Maybe a thermos of coffee, some cookies, and some time browsing books would be a nice free date with something to bring home in the end.  If your library doesn't have any tables set aside for coffee drinking, just have Carbucks (I crack me up) and do a little picnic in your car before you go in or just have tea time at home before you leave.

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Re: the coffee mug. Not only is a thrift store a great place to look, but so is Ross and TJMaxx.

 

Also, I think it’s great that you’re looking for ways to speak his language! I find it so hard because we want to GIVE what we like to GET. Does anyone else notice this? For example, does your DH like to give you presents? When you’re really just wanting an afternoon together hanging out snuggling?

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I'm SOOO glad Dh and I aren't Present People.  I'd be miserable keeping up with that. I'll get him a gift when the mood strikes or I see something he'd love, but this rarely coincides with any commercial holidays or his birthday. I got him something for Valentine's Day this year and I can't remember the last time that happened.  

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I've recently been convicted that I don't speak my hubbys primary love-language often enough. Problem is that we're on a super tight budget (we lost 2/3 of our normal monthly income last fall and it doesn't appear that'll be changing anytime soon) and his primary love-language is gift-giving. Besides food (making him special treats to gift him with, buying an occasional candy bar, etc.), I'm looking for creative ideas on how I can fill his gift-giving love-tank without breaking the bank. Even just buying him a book every week is not in our budget right now, but I'd like to do something several times a week for a while. I'd love any ideas you have! :)

Do you think he would rather receive several gifts a week or would he rather a nicer gift less often?  

 

That question may be a big indication that gifts is NOT my love language.  

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Does he like physical gifts or does he just like surprises of getting something?

 

Cheap stuff that *I* could never have enough of:

candy bars

book marks

various coffee mugs

good smelling candles

pens and pencils  (or other office supplies)

 

Things I would get for my husband if money was tight

$5 gift card to DD

$5 gift card to McD

a coupon for "get out of brushing kids' teeth"

 

Depending on his interests I would be looking for items on freecycle and FB yard sales groups

 

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Do you think he would rather receive several gifts a week or would he rather a nicer gift less often?  

 

That question may be a big indication that gifts is NOT my love language.  

 

I'm a gift person. The presentation matters.

When you get your husband a gift, even if cheap, wrap it up and give a bit of surprise.  A homemade card in an envelope that has been decorated in some way even adds that bit of suspense "What is inside?"

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I'm a gift person. The presentation matters.

When you get your husband a gift, even if cheap, wrap it up and give a bit of surprise.  A homemade card in an envelope that has been decorated in some way even adds that bit of suspense "What is inside?"

Great idea!

 

Do you think he would rather receive several gifts a week or would he rather a nicer gift less often?  

 

That question may be a big indication that gifts is NOT my love language.  

Ha ha. Me either!! Can you tell?? lol. I think perhaps for a while, several per week might be best to get his love-tank "full".

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Gifts are physical, tangible reminders that you are being thought of, so it does not have to be a purchased item to be a gift reminder of being loved.

 

For presentation:

Make an origami box and lid, or other origami container.

Wrap with tissue paper, color comics page from the Sunday newspaper, scrap of wrapping paper, a colorful scarf or handkerchief, etc.

Place in a basket and cover with a colorful napkin, towel, cloth, piece of fabric, etc.

Make your own "Christmas cracker" -- I'm thinking this could probably be done with out the "popping" part.

Decorate a pill bottle, jar, or small box.

Reuse a small jewelry box or gift bag and "refresh" it with some ribbon or a sticker.

 

Free or Inexpensive gifts:

- Leave a post-it note with a heart drawn on it on his pillow.

- Write out a joke and enclose it in an origami envelope, decorated regular envelope, or some fun or unusual container.

- Make an origami shape figure that has some significance to you & DH and leave it for him to find in his special spot.

- When you are out for a walk, pick up a unique stone, pine cone, seed pod, wild flower, feather, etc. and leave it with a post-it note saying something along the lines of: "Saw this and it reminded me of the time we..." or "This reminded me of ____ about you." or "A reminder that my love for you ________ (will last as long and longer than this rock)(keeps blooming like this flower)"

- Pack a candy bar or 50-cent treat in his lunch occasionally.

- Party supply store, and buy a handful of inexpensive little party gift bag items; every so often wrap one up with a short explanation of why it reminded you of DH, what's special about him, or how it represents your love/marriage.

Edited by Lori D.
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Dollar store!

 

Hit up the dollar store and see if you can find any stuff he'd like. Mugs, candy, hand lotion, socks, crossword puzzles, whatever. If his love language is gifts it doesn't have to be much, just getting something will count. 

 

Oh, does he drink coffee? Tea? Maybe picking him up different ones the might like? Even Aldi has coffee and tea. 

 

Even a pack of gum to hand him would be nice I bet. 

 

Go to the library and check out books he'd like, or movies? Technically not a gift, but a loan, but still, it's a tangible THING that you can hand him or put by his favorite chair or on his nightstand. And totally free. 

 

 

Some of the other stuff mentioned would be more in the realms of physical affection, acts of service, etc I think. 

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My daughter has almost no money for gifts. She made her boyfriend a 365 jar. She put notes in it he can open 1 a day. She had memories, puns, things she loves about him, quotes and song lyrics that remind her of them...This Christmas she made him 52 small videos (appropriate...) that he can open each week. She sang songs, told jokes, recalled sweet times, and wished him happy birthday/anniversary depending on the week. She is a great gift giver! For his birthday this year, she bought a Battleship game and sent him one of the consoles, so they can play over skype (he's Airforce stationed far away). It truly is the thought that counts.

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Oh and BTW "love notes" in the lunch or on his sterring wheel/somewhere he'll see them count as "gifts". Physical reminders that you are being thought of when away.

 

I'm finding recently that surprise emails in my email box with a cute picture (my husband has a calendar of daily animals and sometimes pops one into email for me) and a note of "I love you" counts as well. (It means he's thinking of me when he's away from me)

 

One day when I was really stressed he sent me a picture of a tiny potato that said "I am a tiny potato and I believe in you. You can do the thing"  it still sits at my work desk.

 

 

Edited by vonfirmath
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What about leaving a sweet note in his lunch or work bag?

I used to pack dh’s lunch and sometimes put a note in there. He’s been packing his own lunch for years now because I fix soup or something and leave it in mason jars so he can grab and go. But back to the story...his office moved from one end of our town to the other end this month and he brought home stuff that he’d saved over the years. There was a stack of those post it notes that he’s saved all this time. It made me feel good that he valued those because most were written when we had very little extra money for gifts.

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I'd think this was a very easy fix. Give massages and/or tEa in bed. Do you REALLY think he cares about gifts you'd buy him?  Or just ask him what he'd like. I think you are approaching this like a woman and not from a man's perspective. 

 

Well, she said she thought gifts were his love language, which means I'm guessing she doesn't think physical affection/sex is. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but the idea was that everyone has a few main love languages, and for some it is touch, others it is words of affirmation (notes, etc), others it is acts of service (cleaning out their car, doing their laundry), others it is gifts. 

 

I'm thinking she's already meeting his other needs (like tEa) but has realized he really has a strong need for gifts as a way of feeling loved, and wants to meet that specific need. 

 

If that is the case, ignoring the gifts but giving him a massage probably won't hit the spot. 

 

Now, if it were MY husband, yes,  he enjoys massages and tEa but acts of service and words of affirmation are big for him. He'd like the notes, plus publicly praising him to loved ones or on social media, etc. 

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I'd think this was a very easy fix. Give massages and/or tEa in bed. Do you REALLY think he cares about gifts you'd buy him? Or just ask him what he'd like. I think you are approaching this like a woman and not from a man's perspective.

Well, since physical touch is one of my main love language is, I do cover the “in bed†side of things pretty thoroughly… ;)

 

And anytime he’s asked what he wants, he usually doesn’t now. About the time he figures it out, he just goes and buys it himself. I do think the surprise factor, and the unexpected factor, part of what makes it special for him. :)

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Well, since physical touch is one of my main love language is, I do cover the “in bed†side of things pretty thoroughly… ;)

 

And anytime he’s asked what he wants, he usually doesn’t now. About the time he figures it out, he just goes and buys it himself. I do think the surprise factor, and the unexpected factor, part of what makes it special for him. :)

 

Maybe you are wrong, and he doesn't really care that much about gifts. He simply likes things you do to show you love him. 

 

I'm not at all interested in the whole concept of "love language" and someone only appreciating one kind of gift. It just seems stupid. 

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I'd think this was a very easy fix. Give massages and/or tEa in bed. Do you REALLY think he cares about gifts you'd buy him? Or just ask him what he'd like. I think you are approaching this like a woman and not from a man's perspective.

This was my first thought, too. :)

 

Of course, OP, you said you have that covered - but you can always, errrr, change things up. Lingerie is a gift, too, right? :D

 

Really, though, these are great ideas in this thread, and I plan to steal some, so I’m very happy to have followed along!

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This is my love language also. I obviously can't speak for your husband, but I will say that *for me* it doesn't have to be anything expensive or big. In fact, much like happysmileylady says ... it's more about the gift being personal to me that makes me feel loved. The example of the phone charger was perfect - the gift is the vehicle that shows the love of someone who is hearing me, and anticipating on my behalf or meeting a need or just appreciating me/what I do. 

 

Some examples from my own home:

I was up all night with a teething baby - my husband brings me a large coffee and donut

I am struggling with Son #3 so Son #1 (who is away at college) sends me a "Thinking of you" card

Son #3 is doing school at the library because I want to punch his face, and he brings home a DVD he thinks I'll like, as a peace-offering. 

Son #2 hears me tell husband that I have to wash the car this weekend. He surprises me by doing it himself, inside included. Best ever!

More struggling with Son #3 and my ex-husband takes me to dinner. Taco Casa, total bill $4. The gift was letting me vent w/o "helping." LOL

Son #3 sees me stuck in the chair with the sick, nursing baby, and asks if I need anything. The gift of noticing I'm stuck was free, and the offer appreciated.

Daughter folds the laundry for me so I can take my second long bath in a day. Sons #3 and #5 (the baby) are eventually going to kill me LOL.

 

The bigger gifts are nice, too, don't get me wrong! The book, the (nice) dinner out, the flowers ... but *for me* the thought behind the gift is what makes me feel most loved. The tangible gift is the gravy. I love gravy, but it's not the only important part! 

 

Good luck to you both, what a very sweet thing for you to be doing!

 

 

Well I was pretty sure gifts weren't my love-language, but all of these things sound so wonderful that maybe I do like gifts after all :)

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Well I was pretty sure gifts weren't my love-language, but all of these things sound so wonderful that maybe I do like gifts after all :)

 

I see most of those gifts as acts of service, though.  That's definitely my love language.  Even when I do receive gifts - the ones I love the most are the ones that show a lot of thought and consideration.  I don't care about the gift itself - I care about the thought that went into it and that is what is meaningful to me.  Actually, my love language would be thoughtfulness if that were a category. 

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Given the income situation I'd probably tell him to learn a different love language. But then, DH has still never gotten over me ripping him a new one years ago (before DD was born) when he bought me flowers on valentine's day when we couldn't afford some of our basic bills. Thinking gifts were more important than basic needs is not a love language I grok. 

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I see most of those gifts as acts of service, though.  That's definitely my love language.  Even when I do receive gifts - the ones I love the most are the ones that show a lot of thought and consideration.  I don't care about the gift itself - I care about the thought that went into it and that is what is meaningful to me.  Actually, my love language would be thoughtfulness if that were a category. 

 

 

Yes, I bet that is it.  When I used to go spend a few weeks with my grandmother in the summers, my mom would clean my room really well right before I got back (I never cleaned it, so it was a mess the rest of the year).  That always made me feel so good and so loved.  Sometimes when I am out grocery shopping or asleep late, DD12 will do a good clean of the kitchen/dining room, down to organizing the counters and cabinets and etc.  Same feeling.

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Yes, I bet that is it.  When I used to go spend a few weeks with my grandmother in the summers, my mom would clean my room really well right before I got back (I never cleaned it, so it was a mess the rest of the year).  That always made me feel so good and so loved.  Sometimes when I am out grocery shopping or asleep late, DD12 will do a good clean of the kitchen/dining room, down to organizing the counters and cabinets and etc.  Same feeling.

 

Yup, that's acts of service. 

 

For others, they wouldn't appreciate that as much as being told something nice. 

 

Others would rather a massage or a snuggle. 

 

Others would rather come home to a new (even if thrifted or hand me down) quilt for their bed.

 

Etc

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Going to the library and picking out a book for him. Mine likes audio books, so I will go on our library's site, download it, then "sell" it to him on why I picked it for him. He really appreciates that.

 

Picking up a Redbox and again selling him on it. This can the into quality time for you, so win/win.

 

If I have a choice on something small, I will go with the choice my husband likes. Olives to snack on after work one night. A new flavor of seltzer. A new brand of coffee.

 

And mine isn't big on presentation as in wrapping, but he really, really wants me to sell him (this is so hard for me). "I have a special dinner planned for Saturday. I thibk you'll like it! I am making blahdety blah fancy way to describe roast chicken and sweet potatoes." "Oh, Honey, thank you!" Works every time. Still surprises me. :)

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