How to Save Money on Gifts

Christmas is a-coming and in a frugal household that may invoke a couple of emotions a) The dreaded fear of what to give and how to make it count when you don’t want to spend a lot of money OR b) Trying to come up ways to celebrate the meaning of Christmas as apposed to the gifts.
In our materialistic society, I fight harder each year to give meaningful gifts without making us bankrupt! Most of the adverts you’ll view between now and Christmas will be drawing you in to spend money you may or may not have on anything from a new car for a loved on to a cool new toy.
Part of my problem is, I’m a huge gift giver and love to give and receive gifts but over the years I’ve had to learn how to stretch my dollars to give great gifts and not make people feel like I just got them junk that was cheap. So I’ve put together a list on how to save money on gifts:

1) Buy things when you see them. I have a box downstairs of things that I got in the after-Christmas sale or when they were on clearance. I’m a big gift giver so when someone gets sick or needs a pick-me-up I dive in the box and wrap it up for them.

2) Set a budget and stick to it. At Christmas it’s helpful to write down who you’re buying for and how much you’re going to spend; that way you won’t be tempted when you see something really cute for $100.

3) Don’t spend tons of money on the wrapping. Yes, it’s nice for a gift to look good but when they’re going to rip off the wrapping paper I just can’t see spending $5 to wrap it.

4) Don’t buy expensive cards. Sometimes I’ll see cool cards in stores and want to buy them until I see the price tag on the back. Cards can cost as much as $5 and personally I’d rather spend more on the gift and just buy a cheap card. My favourite resource for this is Factory Card and Party Outlet that has cards as cheap as $.49.

5) Hand-make something. No, I’m not talking chintzy macaroni cards that we made as kids. but there are plenty of things out there that can be made cheaply and look great. Last year we made bean bag games for a couple of people for Christmas and boy did they love them!

6) Children don’t understand the difference between a $2 gift from a garage sale and a $25 gift from Target. It’s true, up until a certain age when they start “demanding” cell phones and iPods, you can get away with buying things from garage sales or the thrift store. The bottom line is most grandparents’ soul mission in life is to spoil their grandkids, and when it comes to gifts it lets you off the hook. Just because you didn’t get them a big gift doesn’t mean they’ll forget all the cuddles, trips to the park and books you’ve read to them when they’re older. This year my husband is going to find the biggest box he can and gift wrap it for Isaac. He has been thinking about it for months and is so excited to get one for him! The more toys you have the more clutter you have and the more you end up throwing away. If we train our children to expect lots of things, when they get older those things only get more expensive!

7) Re-gift. Yup, I said it! I re-gift and from a survey I read not long ago, I’m not the only one. 69% of people polled believe it’s now socially acceptable! Now, granted, my Mum’s Christmas gift is not going to be something I was given, nor will a picture frame from Isaac’s dedication be given away; but still, there is potential in re-gifting. If it’s not something you’re going to use, bless someone else with it.

Article first published 2008.

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