Whether you’re planning for a family reunion that’s been a long time in coming or your extended family’s annual holiday gathering, figuring out which gifts to give to whom can be an unwelcome distraction from more important matters. In addition to the obvious financial burden of buying gifts for a dozen or more people, actually going out and gathering everything takes a lot of time that you can’t spare. Take these simple, inexpensive gift ideas for what they’re worth and make planning your next extended-family event a breeze.
1. Family Photo Albums on DVD
Gifts don’t have to be expensive to carry meaning. Before your next family gathering, troll through your computer’s digital archives and collect past photos of family members, gatherings and trips. Enlist the help of a well-organized relative or two if your photo stash leaves something to be desired, and be sure to scan any noteworthy old analog photographs that you find lying around. Burn the entire collection onto a DVD-R and make enough copies for everyone in attendance.
2. Family T-shirts
If a family photo album isn’t enough to get everyone in your extended family on the same page, a cleverly-designed family T-shirt should be up to the task. Screen-printed T-shirts are surprisingly affordable, and many printers offer steep discounts if you order in bulk. Consider going for a “team” theme, with your family’s last name printed on the shirt’s front and each member’s first name printed on the back, or settle on a catchphrase or inside joke that everyone will understand. As an exercise in family unity, T-shirts are hard to beat.
3. Potted Plants
Potted plants can be personalized in short order, making them an ideal gift for large groups of extended family members that you may not have seen in a while. With dozens or hundreds of different types of plants in one place, nurseries are the perfect one-stop shop for last-minute gift-gathering. To set each plant apart, include an inexpensive add-on like a small watering can or fertilizer.
As long as it’s socially acceptable within your extended family, wine makes for a great last-minute gift. Commonly perceived as expensive and pretentious, the cost of high-quality wine has declined markedly in recent years, even as the number of available varietals and imprints has shot through the roof.
5. Home Accents
Throw pillows, towels, soap dishes and even dishrags are useful and easily personalized. As gifts, these should be high-quality, even hand-made, not the cheap throwaways widely available at big-box stores. Consider embroidering the recipient’s name or initials on cloth items or even stitching the whole thing together yourself if you have the time and inclination.
There’s a difference between re-gifting, which is generally seen as cheap, and reusing an item that has special meaning. Younger children will appreciate clothing hand-me-downs, like old college sweaters or well-made winter coats. For older relatives, indulge specific hobbies with well-thought-out gifts like a valuable old record or a needlepoint kit.
You’re not alone in dreading the gifting process, especially when you’re shopping for extended family members that you haven’t seen in a while. Keep your next family gathering simple with affordable, memorable gifts that say more about your shared bloodline than the size of your checking account.
Maja Sloan is a freelance writer living in New York. She writes for dvdcopycat.com where you can learn more about fabrication of digital media.