If you’re looking to save more in the new year but aren’t willing to give up certain luxuries, such as seeing movies, a nice hair cut, or eating to name a few, the following are great gifts to ask for this holiday.

Gift Cards

Some say gift cards are offensive, impersonal, and impractical gifts. They only make more work for the recipient who must go spend it. I wholeheartedly disagree. A gift card is the gift of shopping. Who wouldn’t love that! For those of you who disagree, I would like to present an exception to the impersonal gift card stigma. The salon.

I made a decision a few years back that my hair was an investment I was not willing to scrimp on. I have a thick pile of curls atop this head and the $15 Hair Cuttery trim just wasn’t doing it for me. If you have poker straight hair that only requires a steady pair of scissors and no product, by all means, Hair Cuttery is for you. But my locks require more maintenance. I try to stretch my salon visits to 3 times a year but sometimes it’s not possible. On top of that I purchase salon quality product regularly. This can add up to several hundred dollars a year. Therefore, a gift certificate to my salon would be personal, thoughtful, practical, wonderful, necessary, etc. etc.

Memberships

Along the same lines of a gift card is a membership. A membership still gives the recipient some freedom to choose their own gift, but may not be as broad. A gift card to Macy’s leaves many options. Do I want a jacket, a purse, a sofa, sunglasses… But a membership is 1 thing in a large variety.

ShoeDazzle is a monthly style service available for $39.95/month. You begin your membership by creating a “Style Profile” outlining your taste in fashion and shoes. Based on the results, 5 pairs of shoes, handbags and jewelry are selected by the stylists for you to choose from every month. You are charged only after making a selection and can also choose to skip months without the obligation to pay. Gift cards are available in 1, 2, 3, 6 or 12 months.

A similar service is Beer of the Month Club. With memberships starting at $22.95 a month, beer is chosen for you by a panel of experts and shipped in a 12-bottle variety pack each month. For those of you who don’t like beer, the same organization also offers wine, gourmet chocolates, cigars, cheese, and flowers. You can mix and match to get 2 months of each for a year. I love getting packages in the mail, even if it’s something small that I ordered as a gift for someone else. Just seeing the box below my mailbox gives me a warm feeling of excitement. I can only imagine my delight if it was wine in that box.

Are you a Blockbuster fanatic? If you love to curl up and watch a good movie without paying the $4.99 Comcast fee or a trip to the video store, Netflix is perfect for you. For $9.99 a month you get unlimited movies mailed to your home. That’s the price of 2 movies OnDemand. You can only have 1 movie out at a time so you may not be able to watch 3 movies each week, but 1 movie a week is good leisure time for such a low cost.

If you’re the head of a large household or just like to buy in bulk, a membership to Costco may be a rewarding gift for you. For a $50 annual membership fee, you will save hundreds a year on groceries, jewelry, furniture, electronics, basically everything but an iPad.

Food

If you’re someone who enjoys eating, but you can’t cook, or you’re always too tired to chop up all those vegetables, or you just don’t know any good recipes, there are plenty of gifts out there for you. Since fasting is not really an option to save money on take-out, viable alternatives include cooking lessons or just a few cookbooks. I request cookbooks every year because I like to have them on display in my kitchen, but I also enjoy reading them. I like to challenge myself with new recipes in order to make cooking fun. I look at cooking as a science experiment that you get to eat. I can have fun in the kitchen, toying with different spices and condiments, and I may end up having to order a pizza when all is said and done, but I always learn something. Next time I make a chicken wrap I won’t add french dressing, salsa, AND barbecue sauce.

Some of my favorites:

One thing I do hate about cooking is all the supplies needed. I don’t mind stocking up on produce for chicken pot pie, but when I get home and realize I don’t own ramekins in which to bake the pot pie…I get frustrated. That’s why I never leave Home Goods empty handed. I’m always picking up little tools that you don’t think about, a portable slicer, a lettuce saver, salad spinner, etc. I like salads and really wish I could eat more, but in the winter I’m more about soup. So when i buy a bag of lettuce and only have 1 or 2 salads a week, it will be bad before I can have my 3rd. My lettuce saver keeps the lettuce fresh and crisp for upwards of a month.I like to cook with alot of vegetables. Adding a bundle to plain chicken can instantly make a healthy meal. But all the chopping and dicing!This little baby is on Amazon for under $15.

But what to do with all the leftovers? It’s only Chris and me in our household and cooking for 2 can be hard to adjust to. Sure you can freeze it in tupperware and have it for dinner the next night. But when Target sells lunch boxes this cute for adults now, why not eat your chicken soup at work, saving the $7 you would’ve spent on a sandwich, and have fun cooking again tomorrow!All of these gifts will keep on giving throughout the new year and you’ll have more in your bank account as a result. What more from a gift could you possibly want!

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