A reader named Rachelle wrote me with this plea for help:
My birthday is coming up and we’re looking for ways to cut back. My girlfriend said for her birthday, her husband used a coupon and bought her a pair of scissors she wanted from Michael’s for $15 and she was THRILLED. That was her only gift. I would NOT be thrilled. I would be depressed beyond belief. I don’t need lavish gifts but I DO want to feel special. A nice dinner is not going to cut it. Any suggestions for our MEN out there on how to make us feel loved and special (birthday or not) without spending a ton of $$$? This is not the year for fancy jewelry (I would be mad) but if my husband just bought me a pair of scissors, I think I would cry.
So what’s in between a pair of scissors and a schmancy bauble? Hmmm…I dialed , aka Jennifer Melnick Carota, for answers.
- Silver jewelry. “You can get really great bracelet or ring at TJ Maxx and it doesn’t necessarily have to be diamonds and gold,” Jennifer said. She has picked up many nice pieces for under $20 by checking the clearance section first.
- Loveopoly. This is a romantic, personalized game of Monopoly with four pricing options. You can buy a deluxe set for $75 or a game board personalized with your memories for $20. Two other options are $40 and $60.
- A note a day or week. Fill a jar with notes about the person, your memories together, and what you love about them. This costs almost nothing if you do it yourself or has custom options starting at about $26. “This makes a very cute and sentimental gift,” Jennifer said.
- Picture frame collage. Buy a frame with 4-20 slots and create a timeline of your relationship or a special event by filling each slot with a favorite song, quote, trinket or picture. Look for frames under $10 at Wal-Mart or TJ Maxx, Jennifer said.
- Indie movie of the month. Build in a monthly date night with a subscription to , which mails you DVDs of great films that don’t hit the big screen. You can pick what genre you prefer to receive. A three-month subscription is $27, six-months is $51 and a year is $100.
- Burn a romantic CD. Put all the songs that are important to you and your gal. Or design it to compliment a dinner you are cooking for her.
Still looking? Jennifer suggests thinking about what experience you want your recipient to have and build a gift around that.