Ronali is a freelance writer, editor, and affiliate marketer.
Does the upcoming holiday season make you anticipate all the expenses you'll accumulate? Does the thought of Christmas fill you with anxiety and dread rather than positive and festive vibes?
Realize that you're not alone. The majority of us have felt the effects of the 2020 pandemic, with some people settling for underemployment, while others have lost their jobs altogether. This makes it totally reasonable to mind your spending.
And yet, you don't wish to act all Scrooge-like and completely disregard giving your loved ones Christmas presents. Read on for different ways to trim your gift budget.
Write a List and Shop Throughout the Year
Take a pen and paper and jot down the names of your recipients. And then, set aside a small budget for gifts every payday. This is infinitely better than waiting for a huge bonus from your company, or a cash windfall, or procrastinating until the last minute to buy gifts.
Just think: you may come across a terrific bargain or sale in April or May. If you have the budget, you can already purchase a few items and delegate them to the likeliest recipients.
Also, keep in mind that while it's good to have a list handy, you also need to periodically trim it down and omit anyone you don't plan to meet this holiday.
Mail Greeting Cards or Postcards to Relatives and Friends
This idea is cost-effective because you won't need to send packages to relatives or friends who live far away from you, and you'll spend less on postage. You can enclose a family photo, bookmarks, or a long, chatty letter inside your greeting card, or send rare postcards.
Think of Creative Ways to Wrap Gifts
A sheet or roll of wrapping paper may not cost much. However, if you have a lot of presents to wrap and give away, you may find yourself spending a substantial sum.
Also, consider the extra expense of buying ribbons and gift tags, and you may end up shelling out an amount that could afford you another gift (or two).
So instead of the traditional, store-bought wrapping paper, use brown kraft or butcher paper, Japanese or construction paper instead.
You can also use glossy pages from old consumer magazines and catalogues. Secure your gifts using jute twines or inexpensive, colorful yarns.
Make Your Own Gift Tags
Get a pack or two of sturdy cardstock and design your own gift tags. If you're a decent calligrapher, write your greetings in fancy fonts, or at least, print them neatly using felt-tip pens or markers.
Order Gifts in Bulk Quantities from a Small Business
There are plenty of small businesses that specialize in handmade items that would make terrific Christmas presents. You're already helping out in stimulating the economy by choosing to patronize small businesses.
What's even better is small businesses usually offer discounts when you buy their products in bulk quantities.
Why Buy When You Can DIY?
If you're crafty or good at making things with your hands, you can personalize your own gifts. One great thing about being crafty is you can easily stretch the raw materials you bought.
For example, if you excel in crochet or knitting you can take just a couple of yarns and turn them into bonnets, scarves, coasters, and even plush toys.
You can also make snow globes by recycling and decorating empty jars of mayonnaise or pickle relish.
Give One Present for Each Couple or Family in Your List
If there are couples or families in your list, you can already save a lot of money by buying just one gift that all of them can enjoy.
For example, if the couple in your list loves pets, you can give a jar or container of dog treats. If they usually experiment with different recipes, get them a cookbook.
If the family you have in mind enjoys spending time indoors, take your pick from the wide selection of board games flooding the market these days. You can also give craft kits.
Give Baked Goodies
Baking is another handy skill if you're thinking about gift giving. Crinkles or cookies and cupcakes with Christmas themes are by far some of the easiest to bake.
For cupcakes or crinkles, line an empty box with a sheet of Japanese paper before filling it up. For cookies, place them inside any empty plastic containers or jars.
Choose the Gift of Time and Service
You may be trying to make do with a limited budget, and could never afford expensive presents, but never forget that the best gift you can give anyone is still your time.
Here are a few things you can do:
For Your Partner/Spouse
- A 20-minute foot rub or back rub
- Serving breakfast in bed
- Preparing a three-course meal with a bottle of wine
- Allowing him to engage in hobbies like woodworking or whittling
- Doing the grocery so she can have uninterrupted time reading
- Doing something together, like watching a baseball game or a string quartet performance
For Your Children
- Allowing them to spend an extra 30 minutes watching TV or playing video games during weekends
- Taking them to the playground or park
- Treating them to an ice cream cone
- Baking cookies for them
For Your Neighbors
- Offering to babysit for a few hours
- Washing their vehicle
- Taking a potted plant to them
- Helping them put up Christmas decorations
Have a Secret Santa During Christmas Parties
You may be asked to host or attend a family reunion, potluck, or your neighborhood block party.
Opting for a Secret Santa means you only need to buy one present. You can also be reassured that you and all your guests will receive gifts as well.