As June gets underway, wedding bells fill the air… and all the gifts that come with them! In some summers, I’ve been invited to as many as EIGHT weddings! And if you’re traveling for the weddings, too, then making it through a season of true love is a pricey proposition.
However, this is one time to remember that frugal is different than cheap. (Don’t confuse the two!) The bride and groom are inviting you to an elegant occasion and your gift should reflect your care and best wishes for the couple. But a wedding gift doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you’re willing to put in a little time and personality.
Here are 12 ideas for thoughtful, frugal wedding gifts, including 6 free wedding gifts.
Purchase a small kitchen appliance (crock-pot, fondue pot, waffle maker, wooden salad bowl) and flesh out the gift with a few relevant recipes on 3×5 cards, and if applicable, some basic non-perishable ingredients for making one recipe. Cost: as low as $15.
Put together a handmade recipe book. For a family member, collect recipes from extended relatives. For a friend, pick recipes that bring back memories. Cost: as low as free!
Pick a favorite board game, several decks of cards, and a set of dice. This basic game can be a launch pad for many games. Look for these items at Target, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or even your local Goodwill (but make sure to check for all the pieces!). I’ve even seen Twister given at a lingerie shower! Cost: as low as $15.
Make a first-anniversary box for the couple to open one year later. Put in a nice bottle of wine, some non-perishable snacks, scented candles and matches. Place several 3×5 cards in the box with sentimental “conversation starter” questions such as “What is your favorite memory of our wedding day?” and “What is your hope for our second year of marriage?” Cost: as low as $8.
Purchase a local Entertainment Book for the region the bride and groom live in, featuring coupons and discounts at restaurants and attractions all year long. Make sure that you put in the couple’s zip code, if purchasing online, to ensure the deals will be valid in their area. Bookmark your favorite coupons or new places you think the couple would enjoy. Cost: As low as $15.
If you live in the same town, give them the gift of time and sweat. You can help the bride with DIY projects leading up to the wedding, offer to do airport runs for arriving/departing guests, pick up or drop off rental items, or even offer to make homemade cookies to put in goodie-bags for out-of-town guests. If you don’t mind missing it, offer to babysit small children during the ceremony and then return them to their parents while you enjoy the reception. Cost: as low as free!
Offer to create an advice book or video at the wedding. For a book, you can pass out 3×5 cards and have guests write wedding advice; compile the cards in a scrapbook as a keepsake. Or use a smartphone or hand-held video camera to record guests giving advice for the couple during the reception, then edit their responses into a short video. For these options, make sure to check with the bride and groom first before corralling guests on their big day. Cost: as low as free!
Create a photo album of pictures from behind-the-scenes moments and unique angles (especially if you have a nice camera and a good eye). Give the couple the images on a CD also, for inclusion in their own albums. Some of our favorite wedding pictures were taken by our friends! Cost: as low as free if you have equipment!
Cook premade meals in disposable, freezer-safe containers for the bride and groom to have a few meals when they return home from their honeymoon to an empty fridge. If you coordinate with a few other people, you may be able to schedule a week’s worth of meals to help cushion their landing from cloud nine. Cost: about $10 per meal.
For a couple you are close with, who are local, offer to clean their apartment while they’re on their honeymoon. Cost: as low as free!
I have also seen these gifts be a hit as well. Most of them are very inexpensive yet quite practical.
Cultivate a book of ideas for fun, frugal, or date activities near their home. You can search for ideas on the internet, at local libraries, or by asking locals with a history in the area. Put ideas on 3×5 cards in a recipe box, or write them in a scrapbook, one to a page, with space for the couple to put a photo of themselves trying the activity (mini golf, ethnic restaurants, parks, museums). Cost: as low as free!
If the couple enjoys the outdoors, split the cost several ways of an annual pass for the National Parks or local State Parks they may enjoy visiting throughout the year. Cost: varies.
What frugal wedding gifts are you giving this summer?