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Gifts That Won't Break Your Budget


Last-minute ideas for everyone.

Shop 'til you drop has been a mantra Americans have lived by steadily these past 10 years. With lack of disposable income as well as growing debt, Americans have finally smartened up and put their credit cards away; at least for the time being.

Setting aside the plastic is no simple task, especially when mailboxes and inboxes overflow with holiday shopping offers from Bloomingdale's, Macy's (M), and Tiffany (TIF).

There are plenty of great gifts you can give your friends and family that won't hurt your wallet and won't make you look like a cheapskate. Everyone has been affected by this economic climate; there's no shame in thinking outside the box for the perfect gift.

No one really wants that extra tie, shirt, or scarf. What they really want is for you to take a minute and think about what they really need. Gifts that show you took time and effort end up meaning more to the receiver then those selected at random and in haste.

The Gift of Organization

Although technology seemingly makes the world an easier place to live in, it's hard for some people to keep up with it. Many people create online albums yet never seem to find the time to sort through and print them out.

Printing out pictures and creating a scrapbook is a great inexpensive gift. The cost of each print can run as low as $0.07! Kodak (EK) even has an option to print your photos into a scrapbook for as low as $9.99.

Another idea is offering to load old family photos and put them onto a DVD. You could also offer to load old home movies on VHS onto DVDs, so that your memories aren't lost in time. Of course, these last two options require additional computer software.

Additionally, you can help a friend out by organizing their Apple (AAPL) iPods and iTunes and upload your CDs to their music libraries. This also gives you the opportunity to take a closer look at their musical tastes. How many Celine Dion singles should one person have?

You can offer to help organize a friend's closet. Professional closet organizers charge upwards of several hundred dollars! All you'll need to bring are garbage bags, organizational boxes, and patience. You can also lend a discerning eye on what to part with and what still looks good. You may be lucky enough to inherit some castoffs in the process.

If your friend is a writer/blogger you can print out all of their writing and bind it into a book for them. Many people believe that what goes online stays there forever, but sometimes these pieces can get lost in the blogosphere. At the end of the day, it's always nice to be able to see all the hard work you have put into your writing.
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