How to Avoid Overspending on Wedding Gifts
It's well known that June is the most popular month for weddings. My husband, kids and I actually will be attending one next weekend. And I really need to get on the ball and buy them a gift. I plan on being generous because it's my step-brother who is getting married -- and I'm at a stage in life where buying something nice for him and his fiancé won't put a big dent in my budget. It also helps that I won't be attending any other weddings (and buying more wedding gifts) this year.
But those of you in your twenties and early thirties might be invited to several ceremonies this year (maybe some engagement parties and wedding showers, too). You're probably wondering how you can afford to get your friends something nice without racking up big credit-card bills or looking like a cheapskate when you give them a present that's actually in your price range.
The good news is that you can keep costs to a minimum by shopping smart and using a little creativity. Here are five tips to help:
Set a budget. Examine your finances to figure out how much you can afford (use our budget worksheet). And avoid the urge to over-give. Your gift doesn't have to match the entrée price if you're invited to a fancy wedding.
Get creative. Homemade and heartfelt gifts can have a big impact -- at little cost to you. The key to pulling it off, though, is to personalize the gift. Make a wedding scrapbook filled with pictures and mementos from the wedding -- and events leading up to it. If you're not crafty, consider a DVD photo album. Or pick something for the couple's shared interests, such as a travel magazine subscription and a pair of binoculars for a globe-trotting couple, or a DVD collector's set for film buffs. Monogram an inexpensive item, such as a frame or hand towels, for a personalized touch.
Get a group gift. Go in together to get a big-impact item. Group gifts are a common practice among baby-shower guests, and they work just as well for wedding presents. Ask other friends invited to the ceremony to pitch in so you can give the couple one of the more pricey items on their registry.
Stick to the registry. If you don't know the couple well, the registry definitely is your best bet. If you try to pick out something on your own but don't know the couple’s tastes, your gift might be the butt of jokes for years to come. You can also personalize a registry item to make it more meaningful. Include a couple of your favorite cookie recipes with that mixing bowl set, for example, and toss in a few of the key ingredients.
Offer your services. If you play an instrument or sing well, you could offer your musical talents for the ceremony or reception -- and save the couple the cost of hiring a musician.