Saturday, March 10, 2007

Frugal gifts for men

Here's a long-overdue answer to a question in the comment box. Can you suggest any frugal or handmade gifts for men?

Most of you crafters won't like my answer: Not really. At least, not in my experience.

Remember how I was so thrilled to present him with USGS maps of local fishing waters, over which I had lovingly handpainted different species of trout? They were not a hit.

Secret sources tell me men are most happy to receive something homemade only when it's edible--as in steak or cake. I hope my trusty readers will prove me wrong! Honey sewed a team sports pillowcase that is much loved by her husband; Wardeh at Such Treasures cleverly designed a custom tool roll-up.

Reading The Five Love Languages might help you make the most of your resources when it comes to giving. For an "acts of service" man, detailing his car would mean more than a golf shirt. For a "quality time" man, arrange babysitting and take him somewhere, anywhere, without the kids. The "words of affirmation" man might actually appreciate the card you design, while the "touch" guy--well, I'll leave that up to your imagination.

My husband wants something to open after eating a slice of his sugar-free cheesecake. Since his family never gets gifts in the mail, that part's up to me! I work hard to find what he really wants at a bargain price. This year, I stumbled upon a perfect suit--a 52 XL glen plaid--for half-price at Goodwill. I'm also including a like-new Columbia fishing shirt and a pair of those pockety, outdoors pants with zip-off legs ($2 total). I know he'll love these hard-to-find items! Since this is a banner year (Ph.D. and birthday in one week), I'm also arranging a guided morning of fly fishing with profit from my Salvation Army find.

Please add your ideas for low-cost gifts for men in the comments below!


MommyLydia said...

My husband could care less if there is anything to open on his birthday/christmas tree. In fact, he is very difficult to buy for because he doesn't really want anything. I find what works best for him is baseball tickets, a restaurant gift card (even though we go together) or some such -- an activity. Doesn't even need to be a surprise!

(Usually I go with him to the baseball game. But this year I'm going to be 7 months pregnant so he's taking another friend and they are going together. I am pretty sure eI will NOT want to deal with the stairs at that part)

Anonymous said...

He's your HUSBAND. Can't you spend more than $2 on him sometimes? This doesn't seem thoughtful; it seems cheap.

Someone Beautiful said...

I agree-for us, the only times handmade gifts have been enjoyed have been when they have meaning. My husband loves the pillowcases I make him because they remind him of the kind he had growing up, AND when I made the first one, we were dating and new in love. So it's become a sweet tradition and way for me to continually show my love. I love to make things for him, and he appreciates the thought, but the item sits forgotten. The pillowcases are used even when we travel. :) And you're right again; food is still the #1 homemade gift. ;)

Anonymous said...

My husband sounds *just* like my boaz's ruth--minus the baseball. I finally figured out how to send him an email gift card to one of the only (computer) stores he cares about. I never thought of baking him something- only for him...he might like that!

And to anonymous up there, I think my husband would appreciate *more* that I had spent the time looking for something he would love while staying in the budget than buying him something he didn't need while paying a small fortune.

(I *cannot* remember my google password!)

Anonymous said...

I don't know why but the comment from above really irritated me. What is wrong with paying $2 for a gift? My husband is thrilled when I save money. He looks at me with adoring eyes that I appreciate how hard he works rather than blowing it on a cheap shirt or something. The best gifts that I give hubby seem to be the ones that I am creative with. And since I was the one that asked the original question to Meredith, I ask on behalf of the rude guest of Meredith's forgiveness. I didn't realize that one question would lead to someone being so rude to someone, anonymous at that.

Thanks Meredith for your thoughts and not forgetting about it. I thought you had forgotten about me asking, to be honest but didn't care because hubby told me that he would be thrilled if I made him some of my chocolate chip cookies (just for him!) this year. Anytime we make cookies they are gone before he knows it. This way he gets his own batch and I am able to spend a small amount on his gift - and use my "skills" of baking instead of running to the store for something that will cost two or three times as much.

Your advice is much appreciate by your readers. Thanks for all you do!

Mrs. Damian Garcia

Ann @TheAssetEdge said...

I love the book you mentioned, "The Five Love Languages"! I never thought of using my husband's love language to select a gift!

My family uses a free online wish list at Users can easily post their wishes, and I can watch for gifts at discount prices throughout the year.

The cost absolutely does not matter - it's all about finding a gift to honor and please the person you love!

Queen of Carrots said...

One gift I made that DH liked was a lap cover for when he eats in the car--just a sturdy piece of twill in the shape of a lap with pockets on the sides to catch the crumb. At the time he ate in the car every day while wearing dress slacks and he really appreciated being able to keep his car and slacks neat.

Last Christmas I took composition notebooks and covered them with a collage of pictures of the kids. DH didn't get one, but he hinted he would have liked it. I'll probably do it for him next year.

And when I lived close to my family, every year I made my dad fudge and my grandpa pimento cheese spread. They never got tired of it that I could tell.

Anonymous said...

I know that your husband will be very pleased with his gifts, and most especially with a wife who works so hard to find such NICE things and still stay in, or under, budget. If your husband is anything like mine, doing what you can to stay under budget is a gift in and of itself. Well done!!!!

Anonymous said...

We don't spend a lot on birthdays here, either. Matter of fact, dh's birthday is around the corner and I am going to create his gift from things I already have - he doesn't have a really good system for the bills so I am going to make him one with already-purchased frugal items I have on hand. Some homemade goodies and his favorite meal and I know he will be very pleased.

It's one thing to sign yourself "anonymous" because of privacy reasons. It's quite another to do so just so you can leave a rude comment - quite cowardly, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

We just celebrated DH's birthday. He got a book he loves, 1/2 price, and a hat, also 1/2 price. He was thrilled, he knows that I work hard to make ends meet, and he doesn't feel cheated at all. What would irritate him would be if I was profligate with the money!
He's also very very happy with a favorite meal,pie or cookies.

Indie Pereira said...

I once made my husband Halloween pillowcases and a throw pillow. He's very into Halloween so it was appropriate. I'm usually at a loss as to what to give him.

The Mom said...

My husband doesn't mind spending lots of money on me for b-day, Christmas, anniversary, etc. but, I know my man well enough to know that the less I spend on him, the happier he is.

For V. day/our anniversary (they're a day apart), I had a hard time finding the perfect card so I made several heart shaped little notes out of card stock. My man is a "words of affirmation" kind of guy so I wanted to focus on that. Each heart had "I Love..." and then I wrote something I loved about him. I stacked them and tied them with a ribbon and put them on top of his gift which was a flavor segregated box of Gourmet Jelly Beans (his fav. candy, plus, he always likes to eat his candy according to flavor so having them preorganized made it more special.) It was a perfect gift.

For Valentines, anniversaries and birthdays, I've made him "Love Coupons." They range from practical things (like, finding his lost book, etc.) to romance. For this past V. day, I bought a cute little box at Goodwill that had a picture frame on the top -- perfect for a recent pic. of us. He loved that gift and uses it a lot. I plan to add more coupons over time -- the box still has lots of room.

Another thing I've done is designed and planned a scavenger hunt for him. I write the clues in poetry or limericks or come up with really creative ways to hint where the next clue is. He is always so impressed with this game and loves doing it. Most clues are contained in an inflated balloon so that adds to the fun of finding them. My husband always loves this gift.

I really liked your post on this topic. Buying gifts for men can be so challenging -- esp. when they don't "need/want" anything. I got some great ideas off of this!

Alexandra said...

Dh is easy to buy for....all he wants are movie tickets! He's also the "touchy" type. ;)

Anonymous said...

My DH loves me to spend lots of money on him -- for example, a leather fedora (think Indiana Jones hat). But, he also likes those picture frames with lots of openings ... filled with pictures of the recent past.

He used to keep the past year's picture collage in his office .. when the kids were little and cute.


Someone Beautiful said...

I realized I didn't leave an actual idea. :) One year I made my husband a giant cookie. (He had always wanted one and said they looked neat at the mall). It was great because I put his favorite combinations of flavors in the cookie. One Valentine's I made him a heart shaped cookie and sent it to work with him as a surprise which caused a lot of commotion at work. :) Another great "gift" is to take a favorite old item of clothing or blanket and repair it for him. I did that with my husband's favorite sweatshirt from high school, and he still wears it and looks adoringly at me when he remembers I sewed up all the holes and reattatched the sleeves. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great ideas! Ruth, your point about experiences over objects is a great one.

Anonymous, you're right. If my husband were expecting a shirt from Dillard's and I bought him a secondhand shirt instead, that would be cheap. However, my husband and I have a mutual understanding when it comes to gifts for each other. We started when secondhand was the only way we could afford nice things for one another.

Now we choose secondhand whenever possible, so we save our cash for things which *can't* be bought that way.

I know that those finds would be gifts enough for my husband. However, they're mostly to hint at the other big gift--a dream fishing outing which will cost over $200. Paid with cash I saved from buying used clothes!

Anonymous said...

My husband likes when I sew things for him too. Or even clean and organize something for him, like cleaning out the truck, filling it with gas, and putting a candy bar he likes in a compartment in it :) I recently made him a case for his GPS doohicky. It took less than an hour, and is custom :) And it was made out of scraps! I'm working on a quilt for him... but that's not very frugal. My quilts end up costing a lot. Pillowcases are a great idea!

Anonymous said...

I think it having a nice appreciated homemade gift epends on the thought put into it.
My husband is a construction worker; so he appreciates when I make those neck cooler things (get water crystals from the garden center and sew them into a tube, when it's wet you put it on your neck and it keeps you cool). A big hit with husband, who works 10 hours in the sun; but if I gave it to my brother, who works in an office, it would be a flop.

Mama Says

AnnMarie said...

It ended up costing quite a bit, but my DH loved the afghan I crocheted for him. He even picked out the colors. It cost a lot, however, because I made it the size he requested--it's over 6 feet wide and long! (And took me nearly a year to finish, including several months where I didn't touch it). The next best gift cost me only 25 cents--I won a gift basket in a raffle. That will go down as the most frugal gift we've given each other, I think, as the products inside were were far more!

Amanda Johnson said...

For Christmas last year, I made my husband a day-by-day calendar. It sits on his desk and each day he tears off a day to correspond with the current date. Each day has a different picture of us. He absolutely loved it!! I didn't put Saturdays/Sundays in the calendar because he doesn't work weekends, that way I didn't waste time or paper.

missdig said...

I bought a fleece panel at the fabric store (It was a Ford truck print), backed it with a solid fleece to match one of the colors on the front panel. I machine bound it with a blanket stitch and outlined some items in the picture creating a simple quilted look.
Total cost...under $20.00.

Thanks for all of your ideas of homemade items. I am always stressed for gift ideas for my husband who has everything too.