I've read in some budget-minded books that generousity can lead to over-spending, but I believe that you can be thoughtful without breaking the bank. It just requires some creativity and bargain hunting! Each month, I put away $50 towards my Gift Fund. This is what I tap into for larger expenses (e.g. birthdays & Christmas) and it gives me the flexibility to pick-up the perfect present for someone even if their special day is months away.
Here's what I bought today using a mix of Fun Money & Gift Fund:
For the hostess with the mostess: I am attending a girls-night-in Oscar Party tonight, so I was looking for an unexpected but practical gift when I stumbled upon a beautiful diamond wine stopper from Kitchen Stuff Plus for $8. What girl can resist bling? A bottle of wine would just last one night, but a diamond wine stopper is forever.
For my homesick cousin who is serving in Afghanistan: He is sending us amazingly detailed letters weekly about his time on the base and in return, family & friends are sending him snail mail full of all sorts of goodies. But I'm becoming increasingly concerned about the quantity of homemade cookies and cakes he's receiving. Since I know staying in shape is a priority to him, I picked him up some Oh Yeah protein power bars ($40 GNC)... and a Biggest Loser 'Boot Camp' work-out DVD as a joke ($5 on clearance at Chapters Indigo). I plan to wrap it in Star Wars paper that I found at Dollarama... because you know, may the force be with him. (That is a quote from Star Wars right!?!)
For the new second-time Mommy: a colleague who is more than just a co-worker to me gave birth to a beautiful boy last Wednesday. While I already went in on the office pool towards a Baby's R Us gift-certificate, I put together a TLC bag of surprises that are just for her: Kings & Queens bubble bath & body milk (Queen Isabella's cinnamon orange is divine) with a loofah and a 'leave me alone' face mask. I used my Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points towards this purchase so it only cost me $2.89! Hey... it's the thought that counts! And I really do hope she is able to enjoy some mommy-needs-to-relax-time soon.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have the Oscars to get ready for!