Rough economy got you down? Tight budget putting a crimp on your holiday gift-giving style? Not to worry! Here are some great money-saving gift ideas to keep your conscience clear and your giftees just as happy.

Dinner’s on me — Are you one of those gift-givers who got stuck with loads of people on your shopping list? Why spend all that money on stuff you don’t even know they’ll like? Take your friends and family out to a nice restaurant or some other outing. Treat them to a meal or an affordable concert or event. You’ll likely end up spending less money than if you bought everyone their own, unique gifts — plus, you’ll get the memories and time shared when you’re all together. Try unique places like The Melting Pot (locations in Raleigh and Charlotte) or time-honored favorites like Charlotte’s and Huntersville’s Lupie’s Cafe. (,

One man’s trash… — Something doesn’t have to be brand, spanking new to be a great holiday gift. Antique dealers like Charlotte’s Sleepy Poet Antique Mall offer thousands of incredible and affordable gift ideas just waiting to be discovered! You never know — you might just walk out with a classic. (

Bookworm — That money-saving tip about shopping for antiques applies just as easily to books. Stores like Durham’s Books Do Furnish a Room provide old classics at cheap prices. Have an aunt, uncle or grandparent who likes to read up on all their old favorites? You’re sure to find it at a place like Books. If classic books just aren’t your thing, consider magazine subscriptions. You know what hobbies or interests your loved ones have — a year’s subscription to a magazine complementing their tastes can cost as little as $10 a year! (

Money tree image courtesy of pfala, via Flickr.