Gifts for your secret pal are generally meant to be inexpensive, but that doesn't mean they have to be cheap or meaningless. Be thrifty, but be creative, and you'll be sure to wow your secret pal with a gift that didn't really cost an arm and a leg -- it just looks like it did.
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Find out your secret pal's favourite hobby and create a gift basket just for him. If he loves to cook, use a colander for a basket and fill it with dollar-store food items such as seasonings, pasta, canned goods and baking materials. For a golf enthusiast, turn a straw hat upside down and fill it with inexpensive golf accessories such as tees, a golf towel, a £3 gift token to the pro shop and a few golf balls. For a book lover, buy a thick, old book, glue the pages together and use an art knife to hollow out the book. Fill the empty space with a pair of reading glasses, a reading light, a notepad and some bookmarks.
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Look around your home for gift-making inspiration. Get three old jars, clean them and fill each with a different kind of candy. Tie ribbon around the lids and decorate the jars with paint. Or, sign up for a pottery class and make your secret pal a new coffee mug or serving bowl. You could also designate a full week as "Sweet Week" and bring her a fresh homemade treat every day; for example, rock candy, caramel apples, cupcakes or her favourite pie. Homemade body scrubs, accompanied by a loofah or sponge, may also be a big hit.
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Use your time, skills and experience to give your secret pal a valuable gift. If you're a lawyer, offer to draft a will for free. If you're bilingual, offer to give him free lessons for a month. You could also give your secret pal a month of free housecleaning; if you're good with your hands, offer to make odd repairs around her house. You could also offer to give her and her significant other a free at-home date night: you set up romantic decor, cook and serve dinner and clean up afterward.
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Make your secret pal's gift truly one of a kind. Compile a list of all her favourite recipes, type them up and have them bound at an office supply store. Name it "(Your Friend's Name)'s Favorite Food" and include a dedication message on the first page. You could also purchase an inexpensive journal, write your pal's name in calligraphy on the front and write a personal message at the top of every page. If you know your pal well, buy a few blank CDs and use your own music collection to create a CD for different moods; for example, excited, angry or in love.