Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal had a great article this past week titled "Dollar-smart Santa." I was looking for some Cheap Christmas party themes and stumbled upon Mr Arends article. Unfortunately, I can't find it at google news so I will share the highlights with you.
(1.) Feeling nostalgic? Then consider buying a stock certificate in Ford or GM. I personally would avoid GM because they're the worst off financially. Anyways, you can get the certificate via one of two means. Buy the stock via your broker and ask for it issued in certificate form and in the name of a specific recipient. Or, you can go to OneShare.com and buy most any stock for gifting purposes. I used OneShare previously when I bought a share of stock for my niece and it worked out fine.
(2.) Consider a Netflix subscription. "It costs as little as $5 a month, or $60 a year. Compare that with cable TV, which can cost more than $1,000 a year."
(3.) An internet phone, or an adapter. "Is grandma still paying $900 a year for her old-fashioned landline? If she has broadband internet, she could pay almost nothing. Consider a phone connected to Skype..."
(4.) "Buy grandma a webcam. Set her up with a google talk account that lets her make and receive video calls to grandchildren." Set up is about 1/2 hr. Cost about $70 for a good camera like the Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000.
(5.) Can you bake? Then make somebody a pie.
(6.) Starbucks Gold Card. "Spend $25 on a 'gold' membership card, and you can get one free coffee - and 10 percent off everything for a year. That's a $100 saving on your latte a day."
(7.) Gift of labor
(8.) Gift card
(9.) Thermos jug. The user can bring soup to work and save about $700 or so over the course of year if they stop buying sandwiches at work. If they don't bring in soup, they can always bring in their favorite coffee blend and save money there too.
(10.) "Short on cash? Give frequent-flier miles. Some airline programs, such as JetBlue and United allow you to transfer miles directly. Others, including Alaska Airlines, will let you use miles to help someone else buy a flight."