Give gifts they'll love―and stay on budget!

Stuck on present ideas? Here are some cool suggestions that won't cost you a bundle


Make a timely gift. Instead of buying something at a store, offer to take down and pack up decorations, babysit or make dinner for a loved one. In the aftermath of holiday madness, people love getting help with those time-consuming tasks. Or arrange to spend some time together: Take a friend out for lunch, or pick up the tab for theater tickets.

Pinpoint hobbies. If there's a movie buff on your list, write down a checklist of past Best Picture Oscar winners ( or copy one of the American Film Institute's top 100 movie lists ( Include a gift certificate to a video rental store. Does your best friend love to cook? Make a personalized recipe book. Gather recipes from magazines or Web sites she likes and buy a pretty book to paste them in.

Personalize it. Add a customized touch to your gifts. For a wine lover, buy an easy-to-use etching kit from a craft store and engrave your aunt's name, for example, on wine glasses. Stitch colored ribbon and her initials (or use iron-on lettering) on a set of hand towels for a lovely, practical gift.

Wrap up fun photos. Print your favorite candid photos of friends and relatives and put them in decorative frames. Or create an album: ask family members to contribute personal photos and handwritten notes.