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10 Budget Friendly Ways to Say 'Thanks'

Meaningful gestures of gratitude don't have to be expensive

  • Istock

    Gifts and Gratitude Go Hand in Hand

    As the holiday season approaches — with all of the gift giving and entertaining — here are some creative ways to say "thank you" that are both affordable and fun. (And I want to say thank you to my Facebook friends who contributed their thoughtful ideas to this article!)

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  • Istock

    Show your appreciation

    Knowing — and seeing — that someone is actually using and enjoying a gift you've given them is especially heartwarming. That's what Christine Marie from Miami discovered when she filmed her daughter running around in the new shoes she received from her grandparents and sent it as an unforgettable video thank-you. Photos work well, too.

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  • Istock

    Sing someone's praises

    It's nice to write a note to someone to thank him or her for doing a good job, but it's even better to write to that person's supervisor to sing his or her praises (with a copy sent to the one being thanked). It will not only bring a smile to his or her face but, who knows, it might also earn that person a bonus or promotion.

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    Personalized collage

    Dan Shapley, of Rhinebeck, N.Y., says his "go-to thank-you card" is one incorporating a collage he creates with clippings from old magazines and catalogs. "It's a creative release, and it's super easy to make something funny out of it," he says. "I have no reason to think anyone on the receiving end enjoys it half as much as I do."

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    Return a favor

    "Let me know if I can ever return the favor." Don't say it, just do it! From cooking someone dinner or babysitting to mowing the lawn or washing a car, a helping hand is always appreciated. Julie Zaugg, of West Bend, Iowa, even got her bedroom painted by her cousin as a thank-you gift.

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    Use a two-for-one coupon

    Treat someone to a nice dinner out to say thank you. But do it with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon or similar discount deal, such as those available on Groupon or LivingSocial, so that it's no more expensive than dining by yourself. Don't worry about the appearance of being cheap — just enjoy the dinner and the company.

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  • Istock

    Baked with love

    Baked goods and other homemade delicacies are always appreciated as a way of saying thanks. Look specifically for recipes for cookies, muffins and scones that freeze well, so you can make a big batch and have them ready to go. Enclose a handwritten thank you note or a copy of the recipe card for extra panache.

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    Free e-cards

    Free digital thank-you cards — particularly those with animation — are a fun and easy way to show your appreciation. Some of the most popular free e-card websites are punchbowl.com, 123greetings.com and bluemountain.com.

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    Regift something special

    Giving someone a gift of something you already own can be seen as cheap, but if it's something with sentimental value, it instead can be truly priceless. Adam Lucas, of Benton, Ark., says, "My grandpa is a master at this. He isn't able to get out of the house to shop, so he normally always has something specific picked out to give me when I visit that he knows I will cherish more than anything he could buy." This includes some of his prized hand tools or his binoculars from the Korean War.

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    Homegrown gratitude

    As an avid gardener, during the outdoor growing season I can come up with a bouquet of cut flowers and some freshly picked produce or herbs as a token of appreciation. And in the winter, I take cuttings from my overgrown indoor jade plant and root them in small containers from the thrift store to use as thank-you gifts. Jade plants are symbols of friendship, good luck and prosperity, so what could be better?

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  • Istock

    Post-it Operation Beautiful style

    Operation Beautiful is the brainchild of blogger Caitlin Boyle and is papering-over the nation with gratitude — one Post-it note at a time. The mission is "to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that we are all beautiful." Join the joyful movement, or just leave a personal Post-it thank-you for someone you know to find.

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