5 Ways to Avoid Overspending on Wedding Gifts
Weddings can be expensive -- not just for the couple getting married but also for the guests. I was reminded of this because my husband and I are attending one this weekend. Luckily, I'm at a stage in life where buying a wedding gift doesn't put a big dent in my budget (and most of my friends are married by now, so we don't attend many weddings anymore).
But those of you in your twenties and early thirties might be invited to several ceremonies this year (maybe some engagement parties and wedding showers, too). You're probably wondering how you can afford to get your friends something nice without racking up big credit-card bills or looking like a cheapskate when you give them a present that's actually in your price range.
The good news is that you can keep costs to a minimum by shopping smart and using a little creativity. Here are five tips to help:
Set a budget. Examine your finances to figure out how much you can afford (use our budget worksheet). And avoid the urge to over-give. Your gift doesn't have to match the entrée price if you're invited to a fancy wedding.
Get creative. Homemade and heartfelt gifts can have a big impact -- at little cost to you. The key to pulling it off, though, is to personalize the gift. Make a wedding scapbook filled with pictures and mementos from the wedding -- and events leading up to it. If you're not crafty, consider a DVD photo album. Or pick something for the couple's shared interests, such as a travel magazine subscription and a pair of binoculars for a globe-trotting couple, or a DVD collector's set for film buffs. Monogram an inexpensive item, such as a frame or hand towels, for a personalized touch.
Get a group gift. Go in together to get a big-impact item. Group gifts are a common practice among baby-shower guests, and they work just as well for wedding presents. Ask other friends invited to the ceremony to pitch in so you can give the couple one of the more pricey items on their registry.
Stick to the registry. If you don't know the couple well, the registry definitely is your best bet. If you try to pick out something on your own but don't know the couple’s tastes, your gift might be the butt of jokes for years to come. You can also personalize a registry item to make it more meaningful. Include a couple of your favorite cookie recipes with that mixing bowl set, for example, and toss in a few of the key ingredients.
Offer your services. If you play an instrument or sing well, you could offer your musical talents for the ceremony or reception -- and save the couple the cost of hiring a musician.