Frugal people are not easy to shop for. You’d think we would be seeing as we don’t buy things for ourselves very often. However, since we’re usually minimalists (to some degree) and disavowers of consumer culture, it’s actually quite tough to buy for the person who has nothing and wants nothing! Ok, so obviously we have something, but, you catch my drift.
Every year our sweet families inquire as to what the Frugalwoods home would like for Christmas and every year we hem and haw and say “nothing.” Turns out, this is a terrible strategy. Our parents love us and dearly want to give us gifts and so, they make educated guesses. They are incredibly generous people and we deeply appreciate their devotion to us, but, we realized we ought to give them a helpful list of things that we truly need.
And so, this year, we wised up. Mr. Frugalwoods and I were some organized frugal weirdos. I kept a list ALL YEAR LONG of stuff that we legitimately could use and would enjoy having. Then, last month we made an Amazon wishlist and shared it with our inquiring family members.
I’m also a proponent of not giving gifts as 1500 Days to Freedom discusses. And in fact, Mr. Frugalwoods and I don’t exchange gifts with each other for most holidays. When we do decide to give gifts, we aim for practical or unique items–such as the Soviet T72 Tank Piston I gave Mr. Frugalwoods one year. Our families, however, enjoy the whole experience of gift giving and so, we’ve found ways to frugalize it.
General Guidelines for Frugal People vis-a-vis Gifts:
- Please respect our wishes. As in, if we say we don’t need new clothes, we really mean it. I, for example, am not buying any clothes in 2014 and my family understands my preference in this department.
- Don’t give us random “splurge” items you think we’ll enjoy. We won’t. We’ll feel guilty that you spent so much money and we won’t know what to do with it. Being honest here, we’ll probably re-gift it.
- Avoid items that we can buy used. We frugal folk love to find thrift store/garage sale/Great Trash Find/Craigslist deals for common used items such as furniture, clothes, and housewares.
- Select gifts that will enable greater frugality. Our list of the 10 Shockingly Expensive Things We Own contains great examples of items that help Mr. Frugalwoods and I advance our frugal practices.
- Don’t laugh at our wishlist. We realize it might not seem exciting, but there’s nothing we frugal weirdos love more than practical, economizing tools and household items. We’re suckers for efficiency.
It occurred to me that other frugal gift-givers and recipients might face a similar holiday quandary. And so, I present you with a list of the key gift categories for the frugal weirdo in your life (hint: if you’re reading this, then the frugal weirdo just might be you).
Top 7 Gift Categories For Frugal Weirdos
1) The Kitchen
Any frugal person worth their money-saving salt cooks most, if not all, of their own meals. Hence, sensible kitchen gear is usually appreciated. And while some kitchen items can easily be found used (plates, glasses, and the like), other things, such as food storage containers, rarely grace the hallowed shelves of Goodwill in decent condition.
Since Mr. Frugalwoods cooks just about everything from scratch, and often in large batches (which is both cheaper and easier), the Frugalwoods home is in near-constant need of more food storage containers. We already have two fabulous sets of glass tupperware (which greatly aid in our campaign for zero food waste) but we’re desirous of large air-tight bins we could store flour and other dry goods in. Mr. FW has been eyeing hefty bulk quantities of rice, beans, etc–but, we have no adequate storage vessels. Hence, this set of two 6-quart food containers is on our list. Mr. FW may also use this to proof bread he’s baking.
Another friend of large batch-cookers are equally large pots-n-pans. My dear chef Mr. Frugalwoods has been on the lookout for a used or hand-me-down stock pot for about three years. Since we have yet to find one, he finally broke down and added this 16-quart stainless steel pot to our list.
2) Bedding and Linens
Frugal people need to sleep too. Shockingly enough, we’re not
writing personal finance blogs counting our cash all night long. We are alas mere mortals who require snoozing (even though we only paid $279 for our King-sized mattress… just saying). Bedding and linens (which I define as sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, mattress pads) are superb examples of items that are really difficult, and rather questionable, to purchase used.
I’m an advocate for extreme frugality, but people, I draw the line at used bedding (though I am fine with lightly used mattresses as we have one in our guest room). The other acceptable used bedding route is an airtight provenance. For example, my current pillow and our master bed duvet are both hand-me-downs from my parents. The pillow was too soft for their tastes and they bought a new duvet, so I happily rescued their old one.
Mr. FW and I both included a pillow on this year’s wishlist. Why? Well, unlike many other household items, pillows actually do wear out and ours are on their last little fabric legs. We’re also asking for a mattress pad, since it’ll help extend the life of our mattress and is something we can wash and reuse for many years.
We just bought an electric blanket (using a gift card) and it is some toasty awesomeness. May I recommend this highly for your frugal peeps. Again, not likely to find it used and December is peak heated-bed desire time. Since frugal people like to keep their thermostats way down low, they like a roasty bed to climb into (speaking from personal experience, naturally).
Since they probably already own quite a few tools (many of which are likely used or from the side of the road), consult to discern their precise needs. There’s probably a list of tools your frugal person would love to have, but they’re biding their time until one shows up in the trash or at Goodwill (which is rare, let me tell you). Suss out what they’re questing after and you’ll have found their perfect gift.
Consumables for tools that your frugal person already owns are also an excellent idea, for example: saw blades, clamps, paint brushes, and sandpaper*. This year, Mr. FW lusts after a 4′ level, a plumb bob, and a 25′ tape measure.
*I warned you not to laugh at our lists. Sandpaper is eminently useful and is quite expensive. Also, impossible to buy used.
4) Footwear (socks too!)
Tread lightly here since you don’t want to overwhelm our minimalist sensibilities. But, if the frugal person in your life is sporting some hole-y shoes, ask them if they’d like a new pair. I myself put a pair of Converse All-Stars on my list since I wear those bad boys pretty much every day all spring and summer. My current pair is on the brink of death and about to rip in half.
The rationale? Quality used shoes are rare to find, especially if you have an unusual foot size like me (9.5 double narrow in case you were wondering and/or have any hand-me-down shoes you’d like to send me…).
Socks are another consumable that’s impossible to procure from a thrift store. Good, sturdy socks make a great frugal stocking stuffer (although does that make the stocking a cannibal…?).
5) Pet Accouterments
The frugal pet owner will almost always appreciate new toys, collars, coats, or costumes (that last one may just be us…). Since we frugalize our care of Frugal Hound, we’re very thankful to her grandparents for outfitting her with a warm winter coat and her myriad adorable hats (which she of course loves). And since she’s an epic destroyer of toys, new ones are always welcome. This year, Frugal Hound asked Santa Hound for this fairly gigantic toucan Tuffy toy. Know of a hound that’s a food gulper? There’s a ball for that.
6) Bike Paraphernalia
Many a frugal weirdo is an avid cyclist and, especially if they bike in winter, there’s a great need for functional gear. Similar to tools, bike consumables are a fabulous option, such as: bike chain lube/wax and de-greaser (although make sure you know which brand your frugal recipient prefers).
Mr. Frugalwoods shared his wardrobe and cycle accessory choices in the epic The Ultimate Bike Commuter’s Guide to Winter Cycling.
7) Frugal Pursuits
Creating your own free or cheap entertainment is a central tenet of frugal weirdos and so, chances are your frugal person has a number of hobbies they enjoy (we’re not ones to pay for movie theaters, restaurants, bars, shows, or whatever else it is that mainstream people pay for these days).
Since frugal people tend not to hire photographers (as you can tell from the
amateurish exuberant photography on this blog) a tripod is a superb way to help them up their photo game. Mr. Frugalwoods and I find photography an excellent frugal pursuit–we enjoy snapping photos on walks, hikes, and around the house.We delight in getting the light just right, framing Frugal Hound’s houndy-face, and just generally seeing the city through a slower, more introspective lens. Doesn’t hurt that I can then use the photos right here on Frugalwoods! Double frugal score. While we do enjoy our Great Trash Finds tripod, we’ve asked for a flexible GorillaPod, which is portable and can attach to almost any surface.
Walking and hiking are quintessential frugal pursuits and, since we’re always looking to expand our knowledge base, Mr. FW and I have asked for a Regional Field Guide of New England. The book includes descriptions and color photographs of the common flora and fauna of our area and will be very handy in our homestead search too. Hiking and camping gear are popular choices as well.