Can a little Louisiana flair balance your gift budget?

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — This holiday season, if you’re starting to suspect that your weekly grocery bill is nearly double what it was, you’re probably right.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that “the US government estimates food prices will rise 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they have only increased by 2% per year.

With prices soaring, now might be the time to cut back on this season’s gift budget.

According to Bank of America, in 2019, Americans on average budgeted around $846 for gifts.

If that’s a bit too much for your wallet, consider incorporating Louisiana’s unique cultural flair into some of this year’s gifts to help reduce gift-related expenses. This idea works great for friends and family out of state.

You can also get a little creative to find affordable yet memorable gifts for your local loved ones.

Here’s how:

Louisiana Inspired Gifts for Non-Local Loved Ones

  • Send your friends a sweet Louisiana treat for a low price– A small 6 oz. Cane River Pecan Company Milk Chocolate Gourmet Pecans Gift Box is $12.00. With additional shipping charges of approximately $10.00, this gift is equivalent to $22.
  • Give the coffee connoisseurs on your list the drink they love the most– Send your favorite coffee drinker a community coffee specialty blend and a cup for approx. $26.
  • Send your favorite cooks seasonings from Louisiana– Local stores usually carry pre-made, economical gift packs of Louisiana seasonings. You can also compose your own choice of seasonings and create a handpicked gift package. But if you’re pressed for time, stores like Cajun Grocer offer inexpensive ready-to-send gifts such as the Tony Chachere Marinade Gift Set for $28.48/set.
  • Louisiana-themed jewelry that doesn’t break the bank – Local jewelry stores carry a plethora of Louisiana-centric items. For example, Mimosa offers Magnolia, Crawfish and Fleur De Lis pendant necklaces for only $35.00.
  • Spend a day in the kitchen and whip up a quick and easy Louisiana specialty– Some Louisiana foods are fairly easy to prepare and do well when shipped. For example, praline candies can be made at a cost of around $15 for 20 large candies. You can split the lot in half and give it as two separate gifts. Mail each gift in a box decorated with a Louisiana-themed sticker for about $14 to $23 per package via USPS, and you’re set. The cost of the ingredients, plus the box/sticker, added to the cost of shipping shouldn’t cost you more than approximately $45.50/person.

Inexpensive gift ideas for local loved ones

  • Turn your memories into a DIY gift – Using images that are meaningful to you and your loved ones, create a completely free picture book using Amazon’s Kinde Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Then buy a box of picture books and use them as gifts.
  • Never doubt the power of a delicious cookie– Most people love a good cookie. So instead of shelling out big bucks for the latest electronics and games, give your acquaintances a huge batch of their favorite cookies and hand it to them with a personalized card that invites them to indulge in one of their favorite snacks.
  • Use your talent, or the talents of a friend– If you are a singer or have a friend who is, write a personalized song for a loved one. If you’re an artist, create a custom painting or comic for your friends and family. We all know gifts don’t have to be expensive, but sometimes we forget how great they are when they make the recipient feel valued. And who doesn’t feel valued when someone writes a song just for them?
  • Make good use of credit card benefits– According to Real Simple, “American Express Platinum cardholders can donate points to charity in the name of a loved one. (You can choose from more than 950,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States.) If you have a hotel brand credit card, it may come with a certificate for a free night. Or you might be sitting on a stash of points that you can give someone for a hotel stay or a flight.

There are countless ways to reduce gift spending in the weeks ahead. Success in this regard often comes down to tapping into our creativity and thinking deeply about what we value in the people we’re trying to find gifts for.

As is the case, sometimes a tighter budget leads to giving loved ones even more meaningful gifts than usual.

On that note, it might be worth considering whether it’s even necessary to wait until a special day to give a gift to those you love.

Surprising a friend with a thoughtful gift in late January can be even more meaningful than rushing to find a last-minute, cheap gift that can be delivered during the holiday rush.

So if you’re feeling stressed about finding the funds to support gift-giving efforts in December, you can take a step back and let your friends know you’ll surprise them with something later.

Click here for more DIY gift ideas.

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