BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – This holiday season, if you’re beginning to suspect that your weekly grocery bill is nearly double what it used to be, you’re probably correct.

The Associated Press announced Wednesday that “the U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5 percent to 10.5 percent this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2 percent annually.”

In view of the significant uptick in prices, it may be a good time to trim this season’s gift-giving budget.

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

If that’s a tad too steep for your wallet, consider incorporating Louisiana’s unique cultural flair into some of this year’s presents to help cut down on gift-giving expenses. This idea works great for out-of-state friends and family.

You can also use a bit of creativity to come up with affordable yet memorable gifts for local loved ones.

Here’s how:

Louisiana-inspired gifts for non-local loved ones

  • Send friends a sweet, Louisiana treat at a low price– A small 6 oz. gift box of Milk Chocolate Gourmet Pecans from Cane River Pecan Company is $12.00. With an added shipping fee of about $10.00, this gift amounts to $22.
  • Gift the coffee connoisseurs on your list with the drink they love most– Send your favorite coffee drinker a Community Coffee specialty blend and a mug for about $26.
  • Send your favorite home cooks some Louisiana seasonings– Local stores typically carry pre-made, budget-friendly gift packages of Louisiana seasonings. You can also put together your own choice of seasonings and create a hand-picked gift package. But if you’re pressed for time, stores like Cajun Grocer carry inexpensive ready-to-mail gifts such as the Tony Chachere Marinade Gift Set at a cost of $28.48/set.
  • Louisiana themed jewelry that doesn’t break the bank – Local jewelry shops have a plethora of Louisiana-centric items to choose from. For example, Mimosa carries 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 make and do well when shipped. For example, praline candy can be made at a cost of about $15 for 20 large pieces of candy. You could divide the batch in two and make it two separate gifts. Mail each gift in a box decorated with a Louisiana themed sticker at about $14 to $23 per package through U.S.P.S., and you’re all set. The cost of the ingredients, plus the box/sticker, added to the cost of the shipping should run you no more than about $45.50/person.

Low-cost gift ideas for local loved ones

  • Turn your memories into a DIY gift – Using pictures that are meaningful to you and your loved ones, create a picture-book completely free using Amazon’s Kinde Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Then, purchase a box of the 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 the big bucks for the latest electronics and games, make your acquaintances a huge batch of their favorite cookies and hand it to them along 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’re a singer or have a friend who is, write a personalized song for a loved one. If you’re an artist, create a personalized painting or comic for your friends and family. We all know that presents don’t need to be expensive, but sometimes we forget just how successful 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 Perks– According to Real Simple, “American Express Platinum cardholders can donate points to a charitable organization on behalf of a loved one. (You can choose from more than 950,000 U.S. nonprofits.) If you have a hotel-branded credit card, it may come with a certificate for a free night. Or you might be sitting on a stash of points you can give someone for a hotel stay or a flight.”

There are endless ways to cut back on gift-giving expenses in the upcoming weeks. Success in this regard often boils down to tapping into our creativity and thinking deeply about what we value in the people we’re trying to find presents for.

As this 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 asking yourself if it’s even necessary to wait for a special day to give the ones you love a present.

Surprising a friend with a thoughtful gift in late January may be even more meaningful than rushing around to source a cheap, last-minute gift that can be handed over during the rush of the holiday season.

So, if you’re feeling stressed about finding the funds to support gift-giving endeavors this December, it’s okay to take a step back from it all and let your friends know you’ll surprise them with something later.

Click here for more DIY gift ideas.