People (myself included) are aware of their spending habits more now than I have ever seen in my lifetime. I have found it to be a lot of fun to see how far I can stretch dollars and see what neat and creative things I will do and make as a result. The holidays are really no exception. This year, I don’t want to appear cheap, but I do hope to appear smart and creative. That is a fine line to walk, but the good news is that it seems people are more understanding on this front. You can save, too!
1. Set expectations with Family and Friends Ahead of Time
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I broached the subject with my family as to what they wanted to do and how much to spend. It can seem a bit strange or uncomfortable puttingprice limits on gift-giving but it’s a lot better than having hurt feelings or stress of not knowing how much (or how little) to spend. We collectively agreed to use Elfster. It’s s an online tool for creating secret gift exchanges event-organization, name pairing, draw restrictions, gift guidance, wishlists, and anonymous questions and answers. Once you can agree to a dollar amount on gifts, Elfster will help to facilitate the whole exchange and it’s a lot of fun to interact with the exchange members online.
2. Handmade Gifts
This past summer, I made several types of homemade jams. I hadn’t realized how personal of a gift this was until now. It takes a lot of time, energy and love.It’s also rewarding to make something that you’d normally purchase at the store loaded with unknown ingredients. I plan to share jams and other homemade baked goods with neighbors and teachers. For the jams, it can be difficult to determine how much to make several months in advance, but once a holiday season passes, you will have a better idea of what you’ll need next time.
3. Newspaper Gift Wrapping
I have been wrapping children’s birthday gifts in comics because I think it is really adorable and I think it is a cute classic look. I was thinking it would be cool to extend to Christmas somehow so I decided that a fancy red ribbon would pair nicely with black and white newsprint. Black & white newsprint would look beautiful with a pale blue ribbon for Hannukah as well! You could also do the literal throwback, “brown paper packages tied up with string” and give your gifts an old-fashioned feel.
4. Experience Gifts
Giving someone your time is a very valuable thing and memories last a long time. You could give a sibling or friend in need of a babysitter the gift of a night of worry-free night out or you could pack a picnic for mom to have an afternoon together chatting and sipping wine. At your own risk, you could give your husband a massage coupon — although, I don’t recommend this because they seem to want to cash in at the most inopportune times or may not realize what is within scope of “a massage.” Think about what people on your list might need and you can create a perfect gift scenario. Just don’t forget to make good on your promise!
5. Pack Light
Think like the airlines and pack gifts light because extra weight will cost you extra money. If you are shipping items, pick lighter smaller things so you don’t get dinged on shipping.
Whatever you decide, remember that health, happiness and being loved throughout the year is the best gift of all!