I’m mostly done with my Christmas shopping. Two weeks ago, I ordered some gifts off the Internet and this weekend, I bought a few things when I went shopping with my mother. It was easy for me to finish up because I buy gifts throughout the year. Not only is it great to have half your gifts sitting in a closet ready to go when the holidays roll around, but collecting presents all year long helps me cut down on that expensive gift-buying bill in December.
It’s one of several tricks I’ve learned to make gift giving financially easier. As fun as it is to give, those gifts also cost a lot of money. Here are five ways I save money on Christmas gift giving:
1. Buy gifts throughout the year–As I said above, this helps me spread the money I need to spend on Christmas gifts throughout the year, making December a lot less financially stressful. It also helps me find deals because I’m taking advantage of sales all year long. So when I see something for someone I love, I buy it regardless of the month. (By the way, do you know the best time of the year to get deals on Christmas gifts? January, with all the end-of-the-year sales.)
2. Stick to your gift budget–Figure out how much you want to spend on gifts by first making a list of everyone you are giving to. Then figure out how much you want to spend on each person. The total amount is your gift budget for the year. When you shop for each person, keep your gift giving under that amount. That way there will be no surprises in your bank account, just under the Christmas tree.
3. Make gifts—As I mentioned before, I usually make a gift or two every year. They range from crafty things like knitted scarves to food like homemade vanilla or candy. Making gifts is a thoughtful way to show someone you care about them, and one of the cheapest. The key, however, is to make sure you are giving homemade gifts to people who will appreciate them. My Gucci-wearing friend is probably not going to like homemade peanut brittle, but my grandmother will, for example.
4. Don’t try to top yourself–I learned this one the hard way. If you gave someone a big present one year, don’t feel like you need to do it again the next year. I have given people big presents and then felt like I raised the bar on their expectations and had to keep doing it. In reality, one nice thing is good enough for that year and the next year it’s okay to go back to normal presents.
5. Re-gifting–All right, I know it’s controversial, but re-gifting–taking a gift that someone gave you and giving it to somebody else in the guise of a new gift–is acceptable to me if a. the person will never know that you are re-gifting, b. the person who originally gave you the gift will never know that you gave it away and c. the gift is new and unused. Around here, if I don’t like it, I won’t keep it. So why not give it away to someone else if I think they will like it? I know it’s a little tacky, but I’m just being honest here.
So there are some things that work for me. How do you save money during gift giving season?