According to CNN.com, last year the average American family planned to spend around $920 on holiday gifts. With families feeling the pinch of recent economic uncertainty, many are asking, “How can we give meaningful gifts to our loved ones while spending less money?”
Here are several ideas for creative and inexpensive gifts for friends, family, and children in your life.
But first, you need to set your gift budget!
Setting a Smart Budget
Commit to setting and sticking to a gift budget this holiday season.
First, list the names of people you want to buy/make a gift for. Immediate family members are easy to remember but don't forget teachers, bosses, neighbors, etc. Next, write down specific gift ideas for each person and anticipated prices. If you can't think of a specific idea, write a specific dollar amount you hope to spend. Be realistic to avoid frustration while shopping.
Don't forget to list “hidden” miscellaneous expenses such as wrapping supplies like paper, tags, and bows, and postage to mail gifts.
Add all of the dollar amounts. It's generally a good idea to tack on an additional 10% for other miscellaneous expenditures.
How did you do? Is your total more than you'd hoped to spend, less, or right on the mark? If your budget is way over, perhaps some of the gift ideas mentioned below can help you cut down the anticipated price column.
And remember, what you work on this year will help you budget better for next year. So even if it's too late and gifts are purchased, debt has been incurred, and the bows are on the package you have a solid starting place for your next Christmas budget.
Keep this “smart” gift list with you when you shop. Note the item(s) you purchase for each person and actual costs.
How many times have you asked yourself, “What did I Aunt Milly for Christmas last year?” Save this list from year to year, and you'll know! It will make creating future budgets easier as well. I like to use One Note so I see it on my computer and my phone.
Here's my free holiday budgeting worksheet:
Gifts for Friends and Family
These suggestions also apply to neighbors, teachers, bosses, and others.
Give green: Select a houseplant or garden plant and wrap it in a canvas bag. For the gourmet, potted herbs wrapped in a nice dish towel make a thoughtful gift.
Give expertise: Do you have a talent or hobby that others admire? Perhaps you know how to scrapbook, crochet, take photographs, serve a tennis ball, cook a mean spaghetti and meatballs, etc. Give an hour “lesson”, or three months of coaching.
Give a meal: Line a nice basket with a dish towel and place a container of salad, soup, main dish, a loaf of bread and dessert. Who doesn't appreciate a ready-to-go meal during the busy holiday season?
Give a memory: If your family lives nearby, carve out a time during the hectic month of December to take your mom and sisters out for tea (or host one in your home), or host a Downton Abbey Meal. Take your father and brothers for a round of golf.
Give a memory II: For out-of-town family, grandparents, etc. photo calendars make nice gifts. You can make one at a local print shop or online through various photo retailers.
Pro Tip: Use a service like Canva to make free photo collages you can print at home on inexpensive online. Then, put them in a frame (here are 6 for less around $30) for an even less expensive gift.
Give handmade: Turn your hobby into a wonderful gift. Give soaps, lip balm, candles, jewelry (make several gifts for under $30), mini scrapbooks, woodworking, crochet hats, or anything else you love to make.
Gifts for Children
Give the gift of time: It's what your children really want anyway! Set a date for a fishing trip with your son, or to take your daughter roller skating. Mark it on your calendar and be certain to follow through. Give them a coupon book of their favorite things to do with you like 30 minutes of riding bike, throwing football, or playing a video game.
Give a “Month Club”: Cookie of the Month, Sports Event of the Month, Craft of the Month, etc. Experience the spirit and fun of the holidays all year long!
Pro Tip: Gift of the month ideas allow you to spread out the cost over each month instead of spending a large sum in December.
Give a family gift: Choose to buy one larger gift for the entire family, such as a membership to MOSI, Lowry Park Zoo, or Busch Gardens.
Focus on gifts that build special relationships in your life without breaking the bank, and this truly will be the “most wonderful time of the year!”
What if you could buy Christmas gifts without going into debt every year and pay off the debt you already have? Grab your seat in my free mini ecourse today!