Just a word about Copic markers. I realize the OP said they were too expensive, and they *are* expensive. But if you buy a few at a time, it's not too painful to your budget. You could also list specific colors on a wish list for birthday and Christmas, and slip the list to your family.
I, too, just make cards for my own use and enjoyment, and I am so glad to have a small, but growing, collection of Copics. They are really wonderful!