Exchanging Christmas gifts is a time-honored tradition that can truly be a delightful experience. However, as this special holiday continues to become more commercialized, it is becoming much easier to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas and break the bank in the process. This year, start a new holiday tradition of staying within your Christmas budget and re-discover the true meaning of the season.
Make a list and check it twice. It is easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and want to buy gifts for everyone you know but it is essential to be selective. Don’t try to buy gifts for every single person in your contact list. I recommend making a list of the people you are closest to and only buy gifts for them. Set gift giving boundaries. Let’s face it, some people just go overboard and in return have high expectations. Don’t fall into that trap. Give only what you can afford but give it with love. There are plenty of ways to show them your appreciation this Christmas.
Make your own gifts. If you are domestic, consider baking some of your famous cookies, cakes, breads, and other goodies. Package them beautifully and present them to your friends, family, or co-workers. If that sounds like too much cooking, you could simple prepare mixes and give them as gifts. The queen of crafts, Martha Stewart has an enormous collection of wonderful ideas on her website for homemade Christmas gifts. My personal favorites are the monogrammed slippers, button necklace, and bath fizz. Another thoughtful idea is to create CD’s for your friends of their favorite tunes. Include songs that have special meaning. I also think that including a printed copy of the lyrics is a nice touch.
Utilize Layaway. Major retailers such as Sears and Kmart offer layaway during the holiday season. Many discount department stores such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls also offer layaway programs.
Shop early, shop often. Start your Christmas shopping as early as possible. Capitalize on mega sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Give a great book. Check the best sellers list and find something you think the recipient would enjoy. To find books for less, scan the bargain section of major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble. Or, if you have books that you enjoyed reading but no longer need, consider passing them on as a gift but only if they are still in mint condition. Try this thoughtful idea I learned from watching The Nate Berkus show: Attach a thoughtful note to the inside of the book using photo corner stickers.
Get Personal. Personalized gifts, such as engraved jewelry or photo are always well received and not expensive at all. In fact, many times during the holidays, photo companies such as Shutterfly and Hallmark will offer promotions for free photo books or other items. Sometimes the shipping is even free. Keep an eye out for these freebies and you will be able to scratch a few people off of your list. Personalized photo ornaments are also a popular choice.
Christmas does not need to be an exorbitant holiday. All it takes to reign in your Christmas spending are spending limits, proper planning, and a healthy dose of creativity.