This year’s Oscars has again made the news for the extravagant gift bags, boasting $168,000 of giveaways. Gifts include an $800 candy buffet, a “glamping” vacation, makeup, furniture, liposuction and even a vibrator! While the rest of us will likely never be given a prize quite so grandiose, you can put together your own glamorous gift bag for far less than $168k – even less than $5 – with inexpensive, and even FREE items that will make your friends feel extravagant too!
The gift bags I made were actually made for my Singles Awareness Day Party – a Valentine’s Day alternative for my wonderful single girlfriends (and one married gal whose husband was ecstatic to get out of V-day responsibilities). But you can create these for your next Oscar party, bridal shower, baby shower, or any other gathering. These gifts turned out better than I could have ever hoped for! Here’s how I did it:
Chose a vessel. I considered cute gift bags, paper chinese take-out containers, recycled tote bags, but landed on what I have a lot of: quart-sized mason jars.
How much to spend? I wanted to keep each jar under $5, but get the most for my money. There were a few items I had to buy: mini liquor bottles, mini chocolates filled with liquor, mini candy bars, mini notepads (Seeing a theme? Mini!), mini hand-sanitizers and gum. Yes, I got all of that for less than $5! And then, I got a whole bunch of things for FREE
Sourcing inexpensive items. First stop was the liquor store, of course. Mini bottles cost a lot more than they used to, but you can get many varieties for less than $3.They also had a pack of 16 mini liquor-filled chocolates for only $12. Next stop was Dollar Tree. They sell mini candy bars (Milky Way! Butterfinger! 100 Grand!) at 6 for $1! And packs of gum are also 6 for $1. Other trinkets can be found at a variety of stores that have a dollar section – Target has great dollar items. Bed, Bath and Beyond has a whole section of trial size items (I got hand sanitizer). Party stores have great cheap party favors – not as much for adults though (although I got great mini notepads there). JoAnne’s and Michaels also have great little items that are inexpensive.
Sourcing FREE items. A gal I work with gave me the brilliant idea to collect samples from makeup counters at the mall. This is what truly sent the gift jars over the top. I started out at Macy’s which was a waste of time – they had nothing. I moved on to Nordstrom, which was amazing! They had a beauty concierge who walked around to the counters with me helping to find samples. I got perfume samples, face cream and makeup samples from a variety of places. But, I also learned that most places have a 3-item maximum, as they frequently have free-loaders who stock up on samples instead of purchasing. When I left the store, I noticed for the first time how many other beauty stores are in the mall: The Body Shop, Bare Minerals, Aveda, Sephora and other smaller shops I’d never known existed before. Every single one of them was so wonderful and so helpful! By the time I left, I had a bag full of goodies for my girls. It was well worth the hour or so of telling the story of my party and begging for samples!
And here is the end result. Such a fun party gift! I am looking forward to my next party so I have an excuse to put together another goody bag!