Aug 1, 2010

Your guide to showers & grad parties on a dime

This summer, I've been invited to 6 bridal showers, 2 baby showers (one of which I threw) and 2 graduation parties. For a thrifter like me this poses quite the monetary dilemma. I love my friends, but I make just about $800-1000 per month, live in my own apartment, buy my own food and cover my own expenses. With the gas money, the gifts, the weddings with gifts that follow and the wrapping and cards that are attached, these things really start to add up and I actually could not afford to give everyone the awesome gifts I would like to off their registries. I admittedly did not attend or provide gifts for all of these showers but I did attend the ones I could.

One way to shave off some of the costs for me has been to bust out my creative side (creative side, are you there?). Ok, I'm not really super artsy, but in an effort to still have cool gifts for my friends whom I care deeply for, I've needed to dig deep and make some gifts that were pretty simple but still required some creativity. Here are some ideas of things you can make to escape the high costs of showers.

First for the bridal showers I attended...this is what I made:

This is a breakfast in bed kit complete with a tray, coffee mugs, coffee packet, pancake mix, chocolate chips, juice squeezer and labels. I believe I made 4-5 of these kits this summer.

trays: about $3 each from goodwill
mugs: .50 cents each from goodwill, I personally painted the couple's names on the mugs. The paint for 2 colors ran me about $2
juicer: $1 at a family store
coffee: about .75 each on sale at the grocery store (on the discount shelf)
pancake mix: $3 for entire box, used for all my packetsmason jars: 25 cents each at a yard sale
ribbon pack: $3 at Target

I estimated that when all was said and done, the kits cost me about $7 each, which is about $15-20 less for each shower than what I would have spent had I went into the store and bought something off the registry.

For the graduation parties I attended:

I bought my sister some wall art I got at Goodwill for $7 (that was originally from Target) and a Van Gogh puzzle for $1 from another thrift store. Total cost: $8

For my friend Stacey, whose party I didn't attend because it was out of state, I again pulled out my creative side. I texted her and asked her what candy she liked most because I had a certain mug I bought at a yard sale for $1 in mind. The final product is on the right. It's a beer mug that reads "Cheers for the Graduate" with Twix candy inside. Total cost = $2

Lastly, for the baby shower I threw for a friend, besides asking family and friends to chip in on the homemade food (I stuck with appetizers and desserts for a cheaper party), I needed to create favors that didn't cost a fortune, but were still cute and practical. I had just attended a baby shower and decided to copy the favors, except I would make mine, not buy them to save on some cash. Here is the result:

These are little baggies of coffee with labels that say "A baby has been brewed" with a choice of a bag of decaf or regular coffee. After buying the bags and stickers at Michael's and using labels I stole from my boyfriend printed at his house and the cost of the coffee, each bag cost me a little less than $1 each.

So, even though I do realize friends probably would enjoy the gifts they registered for since they hand-picked them, I also know that creating gifts with your own time, energy and hands also means something as well (especially since your friends don't want you to go broke over buying them the gifts). My advice is, buy great gifts to provide for your friends when you can, but also realize that sometimes a handmade gift goes a long way and can save you some cash when your strapped for it. And of course, never underestimate the stuff you can find at thrift stores and goodwill - with enough trips, you can find almost anything! Just keep searching, your wallet will thank you.
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