Despite my best efforts to plan ahead, the holiday season always seems to creep up on me. As the holidays approach, the pressure to find and buy the right gifts for each person in my life and the likelihood of me settling for last minute (and pricey) gifts becomes greater and greater. Aside from the stress that comes along with last minute shopping, I have found that last minutes purchases often come at the cost of me sacrificing my budget and thoughtfulness. In recent years I have made a concerted effort to start my shopping earlier and to be more creative and thoughtful with my gift giving. These small changes have allowed me to enjoy more and spend less during the holiday season and to view holiday preparations as exciting rather than burdensome. This year, I am hoping to stay on track with holiday gift planning/buying and to avoid letting the spirit of the season slip through my fingers by following a few simple tips.
1. Plan ahead
This tip should go without saying and is easier said than done (trust me). Whether you plan ahead by simply deciding on and sticking to a budget for holiday shopping or by keeping your eyes peeled for possible gifts long before the holiday season arrives, you’ll find yourself ahead of the game come mid to late December!
2. Don’t get caught up in the consumerism of it all
Before you buy a gift for a family member, friend or significant other think about what you are buying, why you are buying it and whether or not it will leave you feeling financially pinched. Taking a slight pause before buying something online or in store can make a huge difference and can save you from buying a gift for the sake of buying a gift. Be sure to watch out for tempting sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday – some of the so-called deals aren’t really deals at all and you may find yourself purchasing gifts based on price-tag alone without considering whether or not the gift recipient will actually like or enjoy what you have purchased for them.
3. Celebrate with a shared experience
Rather than buying tangible gifts, why not consider putting your money towards a shared experience with friends, family or a significant other? A shared experience could be something low cost and low key like a potluck holiday party or wine night with friends or a night out at the theater where everyone pays their own way and your gifts to each other come in the form of contagious laughter and quality time spent together.
4. Go the DIY or Semi-DIY route
Whether or not you consider yourself crafty there is most likely something that you could make that would be a suitable gift for someone in your life. An easy or Semi-DIY approach to gift giving could include putting together a themed basket of small, but thoughtful gifts. A full-on DIY approach to gift giving could include packaged homemade granola or a framed piece of homemade wall art. You may not be able to DIY all of your holiday gifts, but the savings from just a few DIY gifts will hopefully allow you to stay on-budget!
5. Chip In
Chipping in towards a joint gift can potentially be viewed as a cheap and thoughtless approach to gift-giving. While this may be true some of the time, it can also allow you and others to collectively purchase a very thoughtful gift without having to break the bank individually. In years past my siblings and I have collectively purchased larger gifts for our parents that none of individually would be able to afford. Similarly, one year I received a gift card to a spa from several friends. They knew it was something I had wanted and they were happy and excited to make it happen.
6. You don’t NEED to go big
Big gifts certainly have their time and place, but you don’t need to go big across the board this holiday season. You are better off buying a gift that is appropriate for who you are buying for and what your budget is. For example, my niece and nephews are all at ages where they find complete enjoyment playing with Mini Mouse figurines or Lego Minifigures. Instead of splurging on large, expensive gifts for my niece and nephews I find that smaller, reasonably priced gifts are just as well received. I doubt I’m alone in my observation that kids are often more likely to play with a toy that cost $5 than a toy that costs $50. Am I right?