I hope that you're enjoying the holiday season and not letting too many things get you down. While I'm sure we'd love it if this time of year was care-free and 100% enjoyable, unfortunately there are some stressful situations that can pop up specific to the holiday season, and even more specifically, to gift-giving. If you've found yourself worrying about how much you can or should spend year after year, hopefully these tips will help make this a budget-friendly and guilt-free holiday season. Check out 8 ways to save a little cash this year.
1. Set your total budget first
Before you even start buying gifts, first sit down and determine what is your total budget for holiday gifts this year. We’ve all probably totaled up what we’ve spent after the fact in years past and been horrified, so this year set a total budget for the holidays, back out the cost of the things you have to do, like driving to see your family or an office holiday function, and what’s left will be your gift budget for the holidays.
2. Set a per person budget
Next, determine the number of people to which you’re going to give gifts, and use that total budget to determine how much you can spend per person. I would highly recommend that if you typically give gifts amongst the same group of people that everybody in that group discusses a per person budget beforehand. There can be a lot of guilt associated with gift giving unfortunately, and you don’t want to find out that you got someone a $30 gift and they got you a $150 gift. But if all of you agree ahead of time to keep gifts within a certain amount, there won’t be any angry looks at the dinner table.
3. Highlight The Important People
I can only speak for myself, but when I got married and started dealing with expenses for my own family, I stopped wanting as much for myself, and started wanting more for people like my parents and children. If you give gifts in a group of people in a similar situation, consider cutting a few gifts to each other and joining together to do something really nice for some important people in your life, such as your children, your parents or grandparents. By reducing the number of people to give towards, you may save money but also get real joy out of being able to treat someone special in your life.
4. Buy a Family Gift
Another way to save money is to give family gifts, rather than to each individual person. Do you typically give individual gifts to your inlaws? Maybe this year you can give them an Apple TV or an Amazon Firestick so they can watch movies together. For a young family, maybe an ice cream maker that will give your loved ones something to do as a family, all while reducing the impact on your wallet.
5. Make gift-giving a game
The holidays are about fun. Games are fun, and making gift-giving a game can be even more fun. If you’ve ever played Dirty Santa or the Left-Right game, you know it can lead to some stories to remember. This year, maybe instead of spending money on multiple gifts, you buy ONE gift and play a big game amongst your family. Fun for everyone, and budget-friendly as well.
6. Chip in for a shared experience
Tell me this: do you remember every single gift you got for Christmas when you were 8 years old? Probably not. But do you remember family trips to see holiday lights, caroling, or whatever traditions you enjoy during the holiday season? I’d bet you do. This year, consider using your gift money to chip in for a shared experience with your loved ones: a new class you can take together, a camping trip, or anything that you can do together and save money. I can’t say the 8 year olds won’t complain at first, but when you get my age I’ll bet they remember it as a good time and forget that they didn’t get that Nintendo Switch.
7. Buy in bulk
I have an Uncle who truly enjoys finding books that would be meaningful for his loved ones and giving them away as a gift. As a matter of fact, a number of the principles of time management I use every day come from a book he bought for me and my cousins. If you’ve found something similar that you think the whole family would enjoy, see if there’s a way to buy it in bulk at a discount. Instead of buying one book, ask if the price goes down if you buy 20!
8. Re-gift (but don’t tell anybody)
This one is a secret between you and me. There is some gift around your house that you got from a well-meaning friend or coworker that you’ve never used … and never will. Put some fresh wrapping paper around it and pass it along to someone who might actually enjoy it. You can thank me later.
The holidays are supposed to be about family and quality time, but we know that money can often make it a stressful time as well. We hope these tips will help you get back to what truly matters this year.