Dec. 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM ET
No need to bust your budget when it comes to holiday gift giving as a meaningful present will always trump a must-have. TODAY style editor and author Bobbie Thomas shares some thoughtful ideas that will have you saving money while also thinking outside the (gift) box.
Make memorable momentos
A little sentiment can go a long way and often convey more care than something from the mall. If you want to give something truly original, these handmade presents will definitely pull at some heartstrings.
Memory card box: For those special people you have known forever (or feel like you have), make a memory card box or calendar. Re-purpose a bin or box and fill it with memories, pictures and fun facts unique to your friend or family member, i.e., astrological signs, name meaning or genealogy info.
You could also motivate someone to record special moments and anecdotes throughout the coming months by creating a pre-made calendar box. Just fill with pieces of blank paper and make monthly dividers out of postcards or construction paper. At the end of the year, they'll have a box filled with memories of the good times gone by.
When-you-need-it notes: With emails and text messages rapidly replacing old-fashioned letters, surprise someone with an array of handmade notes to help on a tough day in the coming year. For instant pick-me-ups, compose notes for special when-you-need-it moments and instruct them to only open under those circumstances, i.e. when you need to laugh, when you need to know how much I love you, etc. This special gift will last long after the holidays are over.
Gift personalized printables
In our modern multi-tasking world, everyone could use some extra help, which is why the gift of your time, your talents or even a simple get-out-of-jail-free card may be most wanted from your loved ones.
Contemporary coupons: Create vouchers that promise to help clean out a closet or garage, sort or streamline something (photos, news feed, playlist, bookmarks, etc.), offer cooking lessons or an "I'll cover you" coupon. To make this even easier, you can find free pre-designed versions available for download on Bobbie.com. Just print and present!
Custom "Of-the-Month" club: Some of the best gifts are the ones that keep giving. Inject yourself, or something useful you can do or offer, into a loved one's life all year long. From cookies to crafts, just consider the recipient and tailor the concept. Grandparents could receive artwork from the little ones monthly with a letter, while your sister or BFF might love to borrow a piece of clothing every month from your closet.
Create clever keepsakes
You don't have to be a craft master to DIY something special this season. These easy handmade gifts will show your friends and/or family that you took the time to tailor something just for them.
Quotable cups: A mug may be a traditional gift idea so put your own unique spin on it by personalizing the porcelain. Using a Sharpie to write witty one-liners, wise quotes, morning pick-me-ups or draw unique patterns to create one-of-a-kind cups for everyone on your list.
Secret book nook: Make a novel nook for the secret keeper in your life. Carve a hiding place out of a used book that someone can use to store keepsakes, special jewelry or notes they don't want out in the open. Half of the fun of giving this gift is watching them realize it's not an actual book.