Recently I took my oldest two kids to the dentist.  After they were done, the dentist let them pick two toys from the toy basket to take home.  My daughter picked a Barbie pencil and a little hand held toy.  My son picked a Barbie pencil and a pretty pink beaded bracelet.  I asked him about his unusual choice, and he told me he picked those for his friend at school who is a girl.  He then wrapped them up and gave them to her the next week.

My son gets an allowance weekly, but it is based on specific jobs he has to do around the house.  He is often tired after school and doing homework and extra curricular activities, so he chooses not to do the chores.  If that is his choice, then he loses the monetary reward associated with that activity.  Simply put, although he can earn up to $7 a week, he often earns much less than that.  He is a man of simple means, by choice. 

Yet when he could get a prize, he chose to pick something for someone else instead of himself.  It was a great strategy for gift giving on a limited budget. 

As adults, we too are presented with opportunities to get something small for ourselves as a reward, but we could also put my son’s strategy into action and reduce our gift giving bills.  Here are a few ways this might happen in an adult’s life:

Use Swagbucks as your Internet search engine and accrue points to buy gifts for others for holidays or birthdays.

Redeem your credit card points for gift cards or other means for presents for others.

Buy a restaurant gift card for a restaurant you frequent when they are offering a bonus gift card deal.  Give the bonus gift card as a present.

Participate in Huggies Enjoy the Ride program and play to win free gift cards for gas, clothing, and other goods.  If you win, save it for a gift for a loved one.  (This strategy works even if you don’t have a baby in diapers.  Simply enter the codes for points that you may find on a website such as Freebies4Mom or watch the videos and do the other activities on the site to earn points.)

-Enter blog giveaways.  Yes, you won’t win most of the time, but if you do, the prize can often be used as a gift.  I know on Mom’s Plans, winners of giveaways often let me know that they plan on using their prize as a gift for a friend or family member.

-Trade in your books for new books at Paperback Swap.  I recently did this for my son’s birthday gifts; he loved the books, and they came in great condition and looked like new.  (If you have doubts, you can e-mail the sender and make sure they are in like new condition.)

Regift.  This is controversial, but if you have a gift that you don’t need or want, consider regifting it.  Of course, make sure to give it to someone who doesn’t know the original gift giver, and wrap it in a new wrapper with a new card.

The opportunity to get free items does come up occasionally.  If, instead of treating yourself, you save these free items, you can be on your way to a low cost holiday or birthday.

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