It's hard to come up with great gift ideas, especially when you're on a restricted budget. Sure, you could probably put together some do-it-yourself projects without spending a fortune, but typically, those require a lot of extra time and special skills you might not have mastered just yet. (There's a reason Pinterest fails go viral.) For fun gift ideas with no assembly required, consider one of these options.
1. Magazine subscription. As digital media becomes increasingly popular, magazines are slashing their prices. Full-year subscriptions can be bought on sites like Groupon for as little as seven dollars. Subscriptions are also gifts that keep on giving. Every time a new issue comes, the recipient will think of you.
2. Netflix/Hulu plus one-month of membership. One month of unlimited streaming capacity is a great gift for anyone who enjoys binge-watching popular TV series and movies. Skip the pricey movie theaters and DVDs and opt for this deal at $7.99.
3. Spotify Premium one-month membership. For $9.99, Spotify Premium allows subscribers to listen to their favorite playlists, ad-free, from any device. It's a great gift for those who like to constantly change up their music selection and listen on the go or while they workout.
4. A Birchbox. If you can't tell yet, I'm a fan of "subscription sampling." Birchbox is a service that sends a monthly selection of grooming, skincare and fun product samples from well-known and emerging brands in a monthly care package. While you can get a single box for $10.00 for the ladies in your life, the men's package will cost you $20.00.
5. Planted herbs. Nothing tops off a meal like adding some fresh herbs from your home "garden." A potted plant of basil or oregano (or whatever strikes your fancy) will run you a few bucks at a farmer's market, but it will provide the recipient the continued pleasure of fresh ingredients.
6. Lottery tickets. Everyone loves to play the lottery, especially when it's not with their own money. Spend as little as $1 on a Mega Millions ticket or mix it up with some scratch-offs for a fun, interactive gift.
7. Sweet treats. Buying candy for yourself can make you feel gluttonous and guilty, but get it as a gift and the "free candy" euphoria of childhood sets in. Either go big with a whole bag of $1 candy bars or keep it small and simple with a couple of chocolate-covered strawberries.
8. Liquor. It's hard to go wrong with a bottle of wine, but to change it up, you can also consider an assortment of mini-liquor bottles. You can make it even more fun by suggesting new cocktail recipes to try with each one.
9. Smartphone apps. You already know how awesome some of the free apps are, but look into what paying a couple extra bucks can buy. The selection of apps is so broad, you can easily customize your gift to your gift recipients needs and interests.
10. Manicure. This one might not quite fit the budget depending on where you live, but it's close. For a little indulgence, manicures are an excellent option. They don't require the same financial resources as a massage or other spa treatment, but they still make you feel pampered. You might even want to get one for yourself at the same time.
Stefanie O'Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to "live the dream" on a starving artists' budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.
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