4 Ways to Stay on Budget AND Buy Holiday Gifts

The holiday season is here. No matter what holiday you celebrate (or how many!), gifts of some sort are generally involved at some point during the month of December. Trying to buy gifts for everyone on your list and have enough left over in your budget for holiday festivities can seem a lot like trying to curl up with a blanket that is too short but with careful planning (e.g. draping the blanket over your legs diagonally) it really can be a snap. Sure. You could max out your credit cards buying presents for all the people on your list, but why bother? Come January you could have the sort of remorse typically reserved for post holiday weight gain. This year, try a different approach.


Okay. You probably hear this one a million times. There is a movement towards doing things yourself. It is generally pretty eco-friendly and craftiness in general is rapidly becoming a lost art. That said, making gifts yourself can save you a ton of money. Knit scarves, homemade cookies, and the like are popular choices, but think outside the box a little. You could make chocolate bonbons, upcycle sweaters into cowls, make homemade cleaner, frame an amazing photo, stitch a bookmark, make soap (easier than you might think), fill a jar with the dry ingredients needed to make your favorite recipe, turn an old sweater into a teddy bear, make a coffee mug, make a scrapbook from an adventure you shared, etc. Really, the list goes on and on.


The funny part about making things yourself is that a lot of other people make things by hand every day. The same way you can save money by making things yourself, you may be able to save money by buying other people’s homemade goodies. This may not apply to small items, like coffee mugs, but try knitting a cowl for less than you can buy one on Etsy. Seriously. You might be surprised at the deal you can get and (bonus!) you are helping another person too.


Time is the most precious resource you have. You can always make more money but you can never get back the minutes in your day. Rather than fill someone’s stocking with stuff, try doing something for him or her. You don’t want to give someone a coupon or anything like that; most people won’t call you on it. Instead, just do something you know he or she needs done. Rake his or her yard, shovel the walk, babysit the kids, help wrap presents, help him or her clean out the guest room, organize his or her closet, etc. Giving a gesture doesn’t take any special skill and it won’t cost you a dime but by giving your time you “give” your friend the time the task would have required and take a burden off your his or her shoulders.


The best gifts are not made of “stuff” – they are items which allow for or remind the lucky person of experiences had – so why not make a few more memories? Give a pair of goggles for when you take him or her snowboarding, give a map for the town to which you are planning a day trip, give a disposable camera before a night out with friends, buy a bunch of exotic foods for a taste testing, a pair of earmuffs for when you go ice skating, give a feather boa to wear at girls’ night, etc. In other words, just buy the cheapest thing that could be used for a fun experience.

Image via ShutterStock

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