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Thoughtful Gifts That Won't Break the Bank

Thoughtful Gifts That Won't Break the Bank

It's coming up to Christmas so I've been scrambling to get Christmas shopping done (you too?!). I had an idea to share my go-to gift ideas for presents that won't blow the budget and still deliver on thoughtfulness.

Check out my edit of the things I turn to (many of which you can grab in these last days leading into the silly season). Though do bookmark this one because these gift ideas still work for all kinds of special occasions, birthdays, anniversaries and thank yous.

an illustration of a bunch of flowers pink yellow and cream tied together with string and the words 'a bunch of flowers' in pink next to it the o in flowers is a daisy 

1. A bunch of flowers

I know, it sounds so simple, but don't write it off! When do we EVER buy flowers for ourselves? It's rare (at least it is for me). But the truth is they really are a joy to have freshen up a room.

I love the idea of bringing a bit of nature inside to admire, its raw beauty and scent so perfectly and naturally created. And the best thing? they don't sit around collecting dust! Don't go for a gift that might be shoved in a drawer or not fully appreciated (or, God forbid, thrown out).

Include a thoughtful little note that lets your friend or loved one know how much they mean to you; offer some words of appreciation, a compliment on their character, a funny memory or an inside joke that will make them smile.

You can get a pretty reasonably priced bouquet at the supermarket or level-up and get to the florist. Or try your own hand at arranging and pick from your own garden (or the garden of that green thumb you know, you know the little old lady down the street with five cats). Or if you like a thrill, take a pair of scissors on a stealth mission around town and see what you can get away with (even if it's just some natives from the local dog park haha no one will judge).

Flowers are fleeting but the gesture remains, brighten someone's home and go for the bunch. 


digital illustration of favourite snacks. A brown paper bag with the text 'emergency movie night snacks', a bag of Cobs popcorn, a packet of nachos, a can of Dayse soda drink, a block of chocolate, a jar of hummus, a packet of sugar free red frogs and the words 'favourite snacks' written at the bottom

 2. An Emergency Snack Kit

This is a fun and practical gift and can be nicely personalised if you know what snacks are your friend's faves. Now, if you're anything like me you won't have these goodies stashed away at home because you eat them the minute they cross the doorstep. Movie night is way too far away, they will never last! But if they are conveniently packaged up specifically for that purpose then this gift can be a joy to dig out.

Something else I love about this gift is that it becomes a bit of an experience. And experiences are some of the best kinds of gifts. It could be a fun to share with someone else, or for those who love a little solo Netflix and chill this is almost completely guilt-free indulgence because, well, it was an emergency after all 😉 and they'll think of you and feel loved.

I like to try my best to keep it a little healthy (ish).

  • Popcorn is a go-to because it's not so deep fried, I love the Cobs lightly salted slightly sweet variety, not a super sweet treat but just enough to get a hit haha.
  • A dark chocolate has a much lower sugar content so its the lesser of two evils hehe.
  • I featured a sugar free red frog here from FUNDAY that seems to be stocked in Woolworths, though I don't dare walk down the confectionary aisle these days for fear of a sugar addiction relapse 😅 (can you tell I've been cutting down on sugar?)
  • I also threw in a can of Dayse non-alcoholic spritzer which I think is the perfect substitute for a soft drink (aka soda).
  • It's always good to throw in a couple of naughty snacks though - maybe even a childhood throwback could be a fun touch. Who didn't LOVE lollie bags and show bags from the good old days anyway?!

Why not write a list of your favourite movies or tv shows and pop it in the bag too? We all love a recommended film we know can be relied upon to be time well spent.

cartoon illustration of a disposable camera that is black with a pink yellow and blue stripe and the brand Ilford written on it. Text appears to the left of the camera and reads 'a disposable camera' and there are yellow stars scattered around the text and drawing

3. A Disposable Camera 

Another little reminder that experiences are held much dearer than objects. So gift an object that will enable your friends or family to capture experiences they can revisit long after the moment has gone.

I love how these can be little time capsules too, so fun to get a roll developed a while after and see what gems you got. 

Also, the fact that we take so many photos with our phones but it's highly likely that one day they will get lost into oblivion or hidden away on a hard drive we can no longer plug in or that just eventually dies because really, who has time to back up that s#!t? It's such a good idea to get even just a few physical copies of our memories - they may very well be the only ones we have one day, and I'm not sure you could really put a price on that. 

an illustration of a love letter and heartfelt note gift card with an envelope pressed flowers and a friendship bracelet with the words 'a heartfelt note' written below


4. A Handwritten Note from the Heart

A present, whether bought or made, takes time to create. If a gift took two hours of your work day plus two hours of your time to go shopping, that's four hours. When possibly a really well-considered and heartfelt note might speak volumes in comparison and take under an hour (unless you're me which would probably blow out to four hours anyway judging by how long this blog post is taking to write).

When do we take the time to really let our friends know what a great person we think they are? What a valuable friend they are to us? And what they bring to the world? It's lovely to hear affirmations from people we trust and love - and it's so much more meaningful than just "Dear so-and-so, Merry Christmas, love from me". 

You can add personal touches too:

  • a little drawing (seriously, even a stick figure with 'You' written beneath is charming AF)
  • some pressed flowers
  • heck, make a friendship bracelet if you have some beads and thread buried somewhere in the depths of the teenage bedroom we secretly hope still exists in boxes - if you think that's something your friend would find cute 🤗 do it!
  • make your own card (get crafty!)
  • MAIL IT TO THEM! How good is snail mail! We never receive it unless it's a bill, rego reminder, or Jehovas Witness junk mail. It's so lovely to receive a handwritten letter - stamps are literally only $2.50 or something
  • decorate the envelope - all you need is the pen you wrote the note with!
  • include some cash "to be spent on something indulgent" if you really must 

illustration of a printable calendar with a pink dog and January written, the words 'an artist calendar - download and print my free one here' and a drawing of a button saying 'click here'

5. An Artist Calendar

All you need for this is a printer and a bull clip or a nice wooden clipboard. This can also be a gift for yourself stepping into the new year - so please download mine and print it so you (or the dog lover in your life) gets to enjoy dogginess (dog + happiness) every month of the year! 

This year I've tried my best to shop local and support artisans and artists in the Byron Bay area. I don't love the idea of giving gifts people may not like so the least I can do is to support the seller and know that my money is going to a maker like me, rather than some big corporation.

This is a super simple gift but you can easily personalise it with special dates. You could even get it printed on nicer paper if you wanted to make it really profesh. Please download mine here but if it's not your thing you can also find heaps on Etsy to buy.

illustrations by Clare Duffy of a closed green book and an open yellow book with a bookworm and the word 'books' written beneath 

6. Books 

Another no-brainer I know, but these are such good value for money. You can pick up a great book for $25-$35. Just get to your local bookstore and ask for recommendations based on the person you're buying for. See what books the staff recommend as 'couldn't put it down' or what inspiring or self-growth titles are must-haves. We forget to make time to read and it really is a deeper experience than watching a movie. Give the gift of imagination this year.

If you're really in the red this year you could pass on a really good book that you enjoyed. I had fun one year hiding cute notes in a friend's books I knew she might re-read (she is a serious bookworm) and it was really nice getting a photo every time she found a new note, so slip one or two in there as nice little surprises.

Or another idea is to visit a used book store - you might even find a cool inspirational art or homewares book or something in a genre your friend would appreciate to freshen up their coffee table. 

an illustration of 'baked goods' including two blueberry muffins with recipe card, a gingerbread man, some rumballs packaged up and choc chip cookies

7. Baked Goods

Another great gift option for something that won't collect dust and will be sure to delight: Baked goods! You probably already have everything you need in the cupboard, just grab some choc chips on your last dash to the store and make sure you have allll the butter and you'll probably be good to go - did you know cookies only take 10mins in the oven? Amazing.

Note: just make sure you're not hungry when you're baking (I'm the worst for eating the raw cake batter or cookie dough - CANNOT RESIST!!! haha). 

You might even have a go-to recipe you use - why not make a little recipe card to go along with the treats?!

an illustration of two notebooks, one is blue with a happy cloud and sun, both are ring bound, the second is open with a scribbled note and love heart and in between are a blue and red pen, above are the words 'a note book' in yellow

8. A Notebook

A notebook, not THE Notebook, though both are pretty great. This one is another simple but potentially powerful present. Okay okay I know lots of notebooks never get filled - which is why you probably already have this gift laying around somewhere at home. But hear me out. Going into the new year or getting a year older is often a great time for turning a new leaf (or page 😉), there is SO much you can use a blank notebook for, include a personal note inside that gives your friend some options/prompts on what they could use it for:

  • Gratitudes - want to be a happier person? Follow my steps in this blog post for some guidance on a great gratitude journal that is simple and works!
  • A little travel diary - encourage them to take it with them and dive in to write some details whilst away about their day or whenever they have a spare moment. You'd be surprised how much we forget that a little note can jog a memory of an experience.
  • Dreams, hopes and wishes for the year ahead - it's interesting when we write them down how they tend to come to fruition. It's something about setting an intention in a more solid way, it helps to manifest it, to get clearer on what you want and let all your consciousnesses work at it (ie. your conscious goal-oriented self, your unaware unconscious, and your semi-aware subconscious)
  • Doodles or sketches on the run (keep it in your bag, sketch while you wait rather than scrolling on your phone - it's a kind of meditation I reckon)
  • Lists - some people are just list people okay, they'll never change, nor should they 🙃

illustration by Clare Duffy of a 'self care package' as written in yellow text, pictures include a face mask packet with a curly hair girl, a herbal teabag, two tea candles and matches, a Loco Love chocolate, and bath salts

9. A Self Care Package

When do we actually give ourselves permission to have a completely relaxing time in which we do nothing but treat ourselves? Not often enough in my opinion! This is a beautiful gift that really doesn't have to cost a great deal but gives someone an incentive to slow down, take care of themselves and feel cared-for. 

There are so many epic little options for a pamper package so make up your very own mix of things that will suit your friend. Here are some ideas:

  • face mask (pick this up from the supermarket or chemist)
  • hair mask
  • herbal tea
  • shower diffuser
  • bath salts
  • bubble bath!
  • tea candles
  • incense
  • chocolate
  • bath bomb
  • nail polish
  • body scrub
  • foot scrub
  • hot chocolate
  • you could even make them a little playlist of relaxing music to listen to while they kick back, relax and refresh
  • package it up all nice - have fun with it! 

If you actually read this entire blog post I want to send you a little gift. Email me; mention this blog post and include your postal address - I want to deliver something special to you 💌 it'll be a surprise 👉 you can find my email and/or drop me a message here.

xx Clare



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