Trying to find the perfect Christmas presents for your loved ones for the holidays, without spending too much money or going into debt to pay for all of the holiday items, can be difficult. You want to give gifts that are nice and thoughtful, without looking like you are skimping on gifts, and this makes it easy to get caught up in the spending cycle during the holidays. But doing so can easily start to add up financially and take a toll on your budget. You don’t want to start the new year paying off credit card debt from Christmas.
So how do you give during the holidays without spending too much? Watch the video or read the post below about six tips that will help you out:
1. Set Limits and Set a Budget
Before you even begin shopping, start by deciding how much money total you will spend on Christmas gifts for the holiday season. It’s important to set limits on your holiday spending and set a budget of what you can afford. When spending money on your children’s Christmas gifts, set a specific dollar amount for each child or decide that you’ll limit the number of gifts per child.
Make sure to set a budget that is realistic. Don’t just come up with some random number. Look at what you spent last year on the holidays, think through the numbers and determine how much money you will need while trying to find a balance of what you can afford. You also don’t want to make the budget so tight that you get frustrated because there isn’t money for last-minute or unexpected holiday purchases. So give yourself a little wiggle room if your budget allows it.
It’s great to give nice Christmas presents, but if you find a gift that isn’t in your budget, then look for something else or go in on the gift together with another family member or friend. There have been many times when I wanted a specific gift for my mother, but it wasn’t necessarily in the budget. Rather than just purchasing it and going over my budget I asked my siblings to go in on the gift too. We were able to do something nice for my mom because we collaborated together, and we were able to stay within our budget.
Know your limits and don’t just spend money and put everything on the credit card, because come January it will be stressful coming up with the money to pay off the credit card.
2. Make a List & Don’t Feel You Have to Give Gifts to Everyone
Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for, but limit the amount of people you give to. Don’t feel that you have to give gifts to everyone.
When making a list, prioritize and first write down the names of those who are the most important people on your list. Then write down those who you would like to give something to if you have enough money left over in your budget. Next to each person’s name write down the dollar amount you can spend on them by dividing up your predetermined budget to all the people on your list. Once you have the dollar amount next to each name, then you can decide what to purchase for them. If you find a gift is on sale and it doesn’t cost as much as the dollar amount you were planning to spend on that specific person, then you can take that extra money and use it toward someone else.
With family, it can be hard not to get something for every sibling and their children, but financially that can be a strain on the budget. In my family and my husband’s family together we have 6 siblings, their 6 spouses and 26 nieces and nephews. Buying something for each of them would be a huge expense. What we do instead is for my side of the family, we each are given a name of one sibling and their family that we purchase a gift for, and we rotate it every year so we have an opportunity to give a gift to a different sibling each year. For my husband’s side of the family, we’ve done white elephant gifts or we get together and do fun inexpensive projects and activities with the kids. The point is that we simplify and communicate that we are keeping it simple and that we don’t expect expensive gifts from each other.
If you have groups of friends or co-workers, then think about giving homemade gifts, goodies or a holiday card to them. You could also suggest friends and co-workers do a Secret Santa, white elephant gift exchange or Yankee swap. It will help on the Christmas budget so you are only purchasing a gift for one person in the group rather than the entire group.
3. Look for Deals
During the holidays you can find really good sales on holiday items. Watch for when items go on sale, but don’t be tempted to purchase something just because it is on sale and it’s a really good deal, especially if it’s not on your list of holiday items to purchase. Also, some items that say “sale” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal. Make sure to compare the item at a few stores before purchasing it.
I give a lot of good tips about holiday shopping on the post 5 Tips How to Shop Black Friday Deals and 8 Tips to Save Money Shopping Online. So be sure to head over to both of those posts to read how you can save money during the holidays.
4. Give Creative and Thoughtful Gifts
Think of less expensive and creative ways that you can give Christmas presents to people. You can give thoughtful gifts that don’t cost a lot of money, such as homemade gifts, bread, holiday desserts, or DIY beauty products like sugar scrubs, lotions and lip balm. Our family likes to give gifts to our friends and neighbors every year, but it can add up to be a lot of money, so we look for creative ideas that are cute but aren’t too expensive. Here are some of the holiday gifts we’ve given:
- Do It Yourself Hand Warmers
- Peppermint Vanilla Sugar Scrub
- Dish Towel & Wash Cloth with saying, “We wanted to get you something big this year, so here is a ‘washer’ and ‘dryer’. Happy holidays!”
- Popcorn with a tag, “Just ‘POPPIN’ by to wish you a Merry Christmas.”
- Flashlight with a Star Poem
- Dish soap with a “We ‘wash’ you a Merry Christmas” tag
- A homemade Farkle Game. We purchased the dice on Amazon and typed up the playing instructions. Then we purchased small Christmas boxes from the dollar store and placed the dice and instructions inside.
- Candy Sleighs
- A homemade Peg Triangle Board Game. My husband cut all the triangle boards and drilled the holes. We purchased golf tees from Amazon, put them in a bag and typed up the playing instructions. We then used cellophane, ribbon and gift tags to wrap them up.
- Wrapping paper purchased from the dollar store with a “Wrap yourself in holiday spirit” tag
- Lemon Coconut Sugar Scrub
- Homemade Bottled Apple Pie Filling with pastry pie crust purchased from the store
- Homemade Bottled Salsa with a bag of tortilla chips
5. Focus on Spending Time with People Not Money
Remember that you don’t have to spend money to give a Christmas gift. Some of the best gifts are intangible such as offering to watch a friend’s children or baking bread for a neighbor. It doesn’t cost much, but the gift is priceless. One of the best Christmas presents you can give family and what they will remember most about the holidays is the time you spend with them and the memories you make together rather than running around purchasing gifts and holiday items. They won’t necessarily remember the present you purchase for them or how much money it cost you, but they will remember those memories you made together.
If you decide to spend more time with family and friends during the holidays rather than spend money on gifts, let them know in advance that you want to do something with them rather than give gifts. It’s okay to let them know that your financial situation won’t allow you to spend a lot during the holidays, so instead you want to spend time together. Your real family and friends love you for who you are, not the gifts that you give them.
6. Plan Ahead and Pay Cash
One way that will help you a lot during the holidays is to plan ahead and put cash aside for all of the holiday purchases. In March of every year, my husband and I start to save and set aside a little money from each paycheck for Christmas. We decide our budget in advance and determine how much money we would like to have by December. Then we divide that number by 10 months and put aside money each month into a savings envelope. By Christmas we have enough money saved to purchase gifts and holiday items with cash. By having cash, we don’t overspend. We know that when all the cash is gone, we are done with our holiday shopping. Check out these 7 Ways to Save Money Now for Christmas.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the Christmas spirit and want to spend money, but there are so many things you can do during the holidays that require little or no money at all. When it comes to saving money around the holidays, try to make the holidays memorable and come up with creative ways to give gifts. And by having a budget and plan, you’ll be able to stay focused on where those dollars are spent and you won’t have to stress about your finances come January.
What are your inexpensive gift ideas that don’t cost too much? And how to you give during the holidays without spending too much?