The holiday season is the most popular time for gift-giving. But the thoughts of having to pay off a massive January credit card bill can stifle holiday cheer. You don’t have to go into debt to make sure that everyone gets something special this season. Use these 10 money-saving tips, so you won’t feel like a Grinch.
10 Ways to Save Money but Still Give People Something Great
1. Participate in a gift exchange. Buying gifts for everyone in a group of friends or all of your coworkers can get expensive. Instead, have everyone draw a name and buy just one gift for that person. Set a price limit to avoid competitive gifting. If drawing names is difficult because of social distancing, you can use online secret Santa sites to draw names.
2. Re-gift. There is no reason re-gifting should be a social taboo. If you get a gift that you genuinely believe someone else would appreciate more than you, keep track of who gave it to you, but don’t be ashamed of re-gifting it. Not only does this save money, but it’s also environmentally friendly. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
3. Give an experience. Material goods can be delightful but gifting a new and exciting experience is almost always better. (Of course, many experiences are restricted right now, but the promise of a future experience together creates anticipation that’s often fun, too.) Taking your nieces and nephews out for a day of fun at the park or having a lovely day at the zoo is a much better gift than buying them something they will lose or get bored with quickly. While experiences might seem fleeting, research has shown that the memories provide more long-term happiness than purchasing objects.
4. Provide a service. Is there a service you can perform that others find difficult or tedious? Why not offer to take that burden off their hands? Maybe you love gardening and can offer to plant a family member’s selections from the garden center. And sometimes your gift provides a double benefit: your grand day out with your nieces, nephews, or grandchildren can give their parents some much-needed downtime.
5. Bake or make something. Homemade gifts can be the most heartfelt. If you enjoy baking, you may find your recipients look forward to an annual tradition of your baked goods. (Providing the recipe along with the gift can make a gift like this extra-special.) Yes, surprises are nice, but Ken looks forward every year the homemade chocolates from his friend Gabby.) Keep in mind that this doesn’t always save money; sometimes, the materials alone cost more than purchasing a similar product. Other times, it’s a very economical way to provide a signature gift to lots of people on your list.
6. Shop out of season. If you plan in advance, you can stock up on gifts throughout the year when they go on sale. Stash a few gifts in the back of your closet for unexpected occasions as well as the holidays. Even if you aren’t on a budget, this can be a great way of reducing stress ensuring you get something the recipient actually wants (instead of the thing you happened to find when shopping at the last minute). And distributing the cost throughout the year decreases the likelihood that you will go into debt. $40 per month seems a lot easier to manage than $480 once a year.
7. Purchase a couple or family gift. Save money by replacing individual gifts with a shared present. Not only will this limit the impact on your budget, but you’ll also reduce the number of presents you have to shop for.
8. Shop smart. Look for two-for-one deals, introductory offers, and special discounts. Lots of subscription services have fantastic prices as loss-leaders—just be sure your recipient understands whether or not you intend to keep paying for the subscription.
9. Send e-cards. For some people on your list, such as former college roommates or family friends, you may simply send a holiday card each year. Why not save on the cost of a card and postage by sending an e-card this year? The recipient will know you are thinking of them, and you can save a ton of cash, not to mention paper.
10. Start giving your grown kids family heirlooms. Do your kids have a favorite piece of furniture or painting they’ve already called ‘dibs’ on? Why not give it to them now as a holiday present? Not only will you save money and delight your children, but you can have the pleasure of watching them enjoy it.
Remember, as much as your loved ones may enjoy pricey gifts, they would hate to discover that you hurt your financial future by being more generous than is prudent. A little creativity can go a long way toward keeping your holiday gift-giving to a reasonable budget. And you’ll enjoy your holidays much more.
Be sure to check out our most recent video, Discussing Cognitive Decline with Dr. David Lash.