Eight cheap and thoughtful wedding gift ideas
Are you a soon-to-be wedding guest stuck for inspiration? Here are some good present ideas that won't break the budget.
Gone are the days of toasters and hand towels - wedding gift lists are becoming increasingly expensive.
According to first direct, the average amount spent on a wedding gift has actually increased from £47 in 2011 to £51 in 2012.
So how do you strike the right balance between getting a present the happy couple will like and keeping your wallet intact? Here are eight cheap and thoughtful gift ideas to get you started.
Your skills on the day
If you can't afford to give a gift, contribute your skills on the day, or in the run-up to the wedding. You could bake the cake, make the favours, arrange the flowers or even handwrite the invitations.
The bride and groom will probably be grateful to have the weight taken off their shoulders. Just remember that some tasks (like the cake and the photography) come with a huge level of responsibility, so you need to be confident of your abilities.
A helping hand in the future
If you're not the creative sort, don't worry. There's plenty you can do to help the happy couple in the weeks and months after the wedding, too.
Give them a nicely-presented voucher offering your skills in the future. If they have kids, this could be a voucher promising a certain amount of babysitting time.
Or if you're an experienced gardener, you could offer to give their garden a make-over. It's all about pairing up what you're good at with what they'd find genuinely useful.
Buy a simple guestbook and personalise it with photos of the couple. Then on the day, take responsibility for all the wedding guests signing it, going round tables and making sure everyone's been included.
This is the sort of thing that can be overlooked in all the excitement, and your help will mean the couple has a written record of the day to look back on, as well as the wedding shots.
An attractive outdoor plant is a great wedding gift, because (cheesily put) it should grow alongside the couple's relationship.
Many garden centres sell rose bushes and other flowering perennials for under £10. There's a patio rose called Lovely Bride, one called Together Forever and even a fuchsia called Happy Wedding Day. Awww.
A video to remember
If you're confident wielding a video camera, put together an informal 'video diary' of the big day. Get all of the guests to leave their own little messages for the couple, and edit it into a DVD while the newly-weds are on honeymoon.
Professional wedding photographs often take several weeks to be processed, so this should be a lovely surprise and a great way for the couple to relive the day before the shots arrive.
A day out
'Experience' days can cost an arm and both legs - but you can put together your own 'day out' gift package for much less.
It all depends on what the couple is into. For example, you could get them a voucher for entry and afternoon tea at a stately home, or return train tickets to their favourite seaside spot, along with a bit of 'spending money' for chips and ice cream.
Just make sure you get open-dated tickets, so they can take their trip when they feel like it.
For friends who already have it all, why not help a good cause by giving them a charitable gift. At Oxfam Unwrapped, for example, the gifts go towards helping the people and communities who need them most.
Have a think about what causes really matter to the couple getting married. Are they passionate about animal welfare or does one of them have personal experience of a particular illness?
It's also worth considering whether everyone else will have had the same idea. It's well-known that a friend of mine loves pigs, and she's now beginning to wish that everyone would stop buying her pig memorabilia. No happy couple wants to end up with 140 sponsored monkeys on their wedding day!
Put your stamp on it
Finally, what about getting a set of personalised stamps made to celebrate the couple's special day?
The Royal Mail now offers you the chance to get stamps made up sporting a photo (or other design) of your choice. A set of ten Smilers stamps starts at £8.30.
Choose a good photo of the couple and get it turned into a set of stamps before they return from honeymoon. That way they can use them when they're sending out their thank you letters!
This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated
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