Even if you have a small holiday shopping list and a small family, you can still wind up paying out a ton of cash for holiday gifts. In a perfect world, everyone would get exactly what they were wishing for this Christmas, and the government would pick up the bill. However, in today’s economy the average consumer is looking for ways to cut back on expenses at every corner- including holiday shopping. Here are a few ideas to help you save your budget and still satisfy all those outstretched hands this Christmas.
How to Save Money this Christmas
- Gift Exchanges Rock. If you’re trying to purchase gifts for a large or extended family, one of the easiest ways to reduce the cost of holiday shopping is to start a gift exchange. Each member of the family draws a name from a hat and purchases one gift for that person only. You can set spending limits, include gag gifts, and even agree to still buy gifts for each child in the family if you so choose to help keep it fun for all involved.
- Forgo the Gifts. Instead of purchasing a new bottle of Old Spice for Uncle Greg this year (like you have for the past 15 years), try suggesting the entire family get together for a special event or a nice meal and forgo the gifts. This can cut back on your overall holiday spending and you will remember Aunt Judy getting shot in the bum with a paintball gun much longer than the fuzzy socks she would have given you if you hadn’t suggested a change this year.
- Share a Christmas. Instead of purchasing gifts for each other, get together with co-workers or your extended family and agree to do a public service project together for the holidays. Donate time at the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen, volunteer at your local animal shelter, or agree to do yard work and clean house for an elderly couple in your neighborhood. You can bake cookies and deliver them to residents of a nursing home who cannot visit with family over the holidays, clean out your closets to donate to the local clothing bank or Salvation Army, or go grocery shopping and donate the items to the food pantry. You can spend as little or as much as you want and enrich your holidays by knowing that you helped someone less fortunate while creating memories that will last a lifetime.
- Buy Gift Cards. I know that gift cards seem very impersonal, but your family may well appreciate a gift card for gas, groceries, or some essential item more so than an artistic dust-collecting figurine or some expensive smelly perfume they will never wear. Plus, many companies offer special discounts and bonuses for purchasing multiple gift cards around the holidays. You can save money and give a gift that will actually be used.
- Bake Your Gifts. Everyone loves a sweet treat at Christmas, so borrow your grandma’s amazing fudge recipe, bake up your favorite cookies and candies, and package them in pretty paper for holiday gifts this year. You can even plan baking parties with your friends, bake up a storm, and share the fruits of your labor to gain a wider variety of items to give away.
Saving money this holiday season might require starting new Christmas traditions and changing the way your family celebrates the holidays, but it is possible with a little flexibility, creativity, and a sense of adventure. Be willing to try new things and create memories instead of exchanging the same old tired gifts this Christmas and let us know what new memories you made that enriched your lives.