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Should you ask cash-strapped friends for gifts when times are tough?

giftsWhen money’s tight, gift-giving is challenging. Personally, I have been invited to five showers and three weddings already this spring and summer. Even purchasing a small gift to give at each event would add up to quite a chunk of change.

A Los Angeles Times advice column addresses whether it’s wrong to ask friends to buy you gifts if you know they’re in the midst of a difficult financial situation. It also offers some creative ideas for alternative gift requests that might be more affordable. Here are some of mine to add to the mix:

  • If you run in a crafty circle, request homemade gifts. At recent showers, I’ve seen guests give homemade napkins, baby blankets, quilts, jewelry and framed original photos.
  • Instead of gifts, ask for guests’ favorite recipes. It’s a touching and personal gesture that you’ll likely treasure more than pillowcases anyway.
  • If you’re expecting a baby, let your in-town guests know that you’d appreciate their help once the baby arrives in lieu of gifts. Ask friends to sign up to babysit, run errands (to get coffee for mom or more diapers for baby, for example) or to provide dinner for the new — and growing — family.
  • If you’re a bride-to-be, ask guests to give a Christmas ornament or decoration from their personal collection. A family friend who hosted a bridal shower for me asked guests to give me a small Christmas decoration, and my husband and I were able to decorate our home with festive items for our first Christmas together. There’s no reason why you couldn’t have fun with secondhand items, too.

Do you have other tips or ideas? Please post them in a comment.