One of the biggest potential budget busters this time of year is holiday giving. Since we are concentrating on living by a budget, it seems fitting that we should think about incorporating that attitude in our Christmas celebrations also. How do we stay on track with our financial goals while still celebrating? The first thing I suggest is of course planning our giving and making sure that it fits into our budget. The worst thing we can do is to not plan, because it is so easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and spend more than we should.
It’s easy to go out and grab a lot of gifts, spend a lot of money, and come barreling into January with a credit card bill big enough to crush your mailbox. And all those items we purchased may or may not have made someone’s holiday brighter. Maybe we need to think about spending a bit less money and giving fewer gifts, but giving gifts that are more thoughtful and appreciated. Again, this requires thinking and planning.
Do you ever go into a store and buy the first thing you see because you’re in a hurry? Or you’re wandering the mall and the music and decorations spur the holiday spirit in you and you start purchasing things you like because it just seems right? I’ve done both of those things. In fact, I’ve found that the biggest danger in myself when I have all of my shopping done early is that I get caught in the holiday spirit at the last minute and buy more. Make a plan and stick to it!
I hate clutter, and buying gifts just because it’s Christmas doesn’t make sense to me. I also hate the idea of overconsumption. Do we really need something? Or are we getting it just because of the time of year? I hate the idea of being tied to stuff, and when we have a bunch of things we don’t really need, those things take up space and cause clutter and are no longer blessings.
How about taking some time to plan and really think about the people we are giving gifts to and come up with something really thoughtful instead of several things that haven’t been really thought through?
We may have to get creative and think outside the box, but there are a multitude of ways to give gifts that will make an impact without spending a lot of money or adding to the junk in someone’s home. This also saves us from having buyer’s remorse after the holidays too.
Here are some of my favorite gift ideas that either save money or reduce clutter:
I myself love to receive handmade items. They don’t have to be really intricate or time consuming. Just something that someone has thought about and made for me just because they love me.
Do something to help someone. Don’t make coupons for services, because people never redeem them. Just go do it. Make a meal and deliver it so that they can have a free evening to spend with their family. Make several pans of lasagna and deliver them to a bunch of neighbors; you will be the most popular person on the block. If it is a family member, take their car for an oil change or clean their house for them. Just watch to see what they need and do it.
Buy holiday groceries for a family to save them some shopping time.
Donate money to a friend’s favorite charity in their name.
Make a whole load of cookie dough, put it in cute containers, and give it to neighbors to help them save time during the holidays. That way, they can use it now or if they already have plenty of treats for the holidays they can keep it in the freezer for a later date.
If you really need to get some kind of gift, make sure it is well thought out. One of my favorite things to give is a magazine from either the week or month and year of a persons birth. I have found these on e-Bay, but there are probably other places online they can be found. I have found Field and Stream and Better Homes and Gardens magazines from way back, just look for something that goes with that person’s interests. I have even found a Saturday Evening Post from the early 1900’s for a family member.
Give a gift certificate for a pedicure so that you can go together for some relaxation time.
A gift card from the movie theater or restaurant so that couples can go on a date night.
A babysitting night for a couple with young children. Again, don’t make an offer, tell them you’re doing it and let them pick the day, then send them out the door. This could also work to give them a day to Christmas shop without their children.
Give a National Parks Pass for the year. This is great for encouraging them to go out and have fun in the outdoors.
Pay for a month’s membership to an athletic club, but only if that’s something they already do regularly for themselves. Giving someone who doesn’t already work out regularly a gym membership could get really ugly.
Have them go to the grocery store with you and pick out nonperishable food to donate together to a local food bank.
The idea of these gifts is to make the holidays less stressful financially for you, while making life a bit easier for the gift receiver. Gift giving should enhance our lives; let’s make Christmas more fulfilling this year. What creative gift ideas can you add to this list?