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Top Ways To Keep Holiday Gift Spending Under Control

4 min read

Holiday gift-giving can be a drain, both on your mental health and your wallet. However, you can tackle your holiday budget with a bit of organisation. Whether you’re one who shops for the holidays throughout the year or waits until a couple of months before, don’t let festive-shopping break the bank: there are still ways to give and show love without over-spending.

Set A Budget

There is more to holiday shopping than making a list of presents and checking it twice. One way to avoid blowing your budget and not go into debt is first setting an overall upper limit of what you can comfortably afford to spend. If you have not set money aside for the festive season this year, you might want to cut back on extras or sell things you aren’t using on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. You can also go on a group gift buying one big present together with your friends or siblings. They say sharing is caring, after all. And sharing the cost of one big present is a great way to give well—while still caring for your budget.

In addition to gifts, don’t forget all the other holiday-related expenses. These may include holiday clothing, the cost of shopping (petrol, parking, food), greeting cards, packages. When possible, look online before just going anywhere; it will save you time, money and presents will be delivered already wrapped and tagged.

Decide Who Is Getting What

To get out of a ‘gifting rut’ and avoid that your lovely little mug or woolly blanket will never be used, start with writing down all the names of the people you have typically bought holiday gifts for in the past and then separate them into groups (family, friends, clients, neighbours, and close acquaintances). For instance, when it comes to friends: who are those who are your lifelong ones, and who has indeed been there for you this year? If you have a business, who are your top tier clients? Whether you live in the city or out in the country, who are the neighbours that pulled together when you all needed it most? Who are the close acquaintances you met on a Zoom networking that you want to show appreciation to? Thinking of them, their personalities and the relationship they have established with you in advance will help you to mind your expenses. Of course, if you’re buying for your kids, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, you’re probably going to give yourself a bit more room.

Ask What They Need

To help you decide what your friends and relatives need you should be able to figure out what they want, need, like to wear or read. But what if you don’t know? Sometimes a quick call would solve your problem but in case the idea might feel you a bit uncomfortable, why don’t you send them a survey via Google Form? It would be an unconventional yet effective way for you to get an idea of what they would like to receive and probably a chance for them to reflect upon their taste and interests. You might include questions like: ‘What is your favourite type of food/colour/author/flowers? Do you prefer coffee or tea? Do you like wine or beer (obviously not for the kids)?‘. You might also ask: ‘What is your favourite brand of makeup or What is your favourite personal sport, hobby, or activity?’

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Once you have your online form created, simply send the link to the people you choose. They’ll be able to submit their answers in just a few minutes, which are entirely private, and you’ll have a solid starting point to know how to shop and stay within your spending plan. Or, if you prefer to keep things even simpler, send these questions in an email. Whether you use a Google form or email, ask the recipients to have them back to you by a specific date. This gives you ample time to do unrushed shopping while staying within your spending plan.

What if the don’t reply? Use your imagination

Look to the Past

Some of the most heartfelt gifts are those that acknowledge an accomplishment or a cherished memory. One way to create a unique and special gift for family members is by creating photo books to capture memories and family traditions (and finally get all those photos off your phone).

For example, many of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of pictures on our phones. They can be uploaded easily to any of the numerous online companies and you can also add captions. And if you have traditional recipes that have been in your family for generations, why not to make a special recipe-book to give?

Another idea is to create a poster collage of children or grandchildren to give to their parents (and one to keep for yourself!). These are very inexpensive to have printed and framed online or from your local craft store.

Give an Experience

While a new dress or toy might be exciting in the moment, it may eventually wear out and end up in the donation pile. In contrast, an experience, however little, like an online cooking or drawing class, an interior-design magazine subscription or a simple hike in the woods together, can create memories that will last a lifetime.

Give homemade

One last suggestion, if you have the time, is to give homemade gifts. Nothing says intentional and one of a kind gifts like something homemade. It could be a special cake, a homemade scented candle, a necklace, a DIY lip balm or scrub. Just be sure that you have sufficient skill in what you’ll be making and the person you’re giving the gift to will actually like and use it.

Choose time over money

This year, the holidays will be different for many. That doesn’t mean it has to be any less special. Keep in mind it’s not the amount that’s important, but rather the thoughtful gift. For some people, the thought of spending time together really is better than the joy of a physical gift. You can save money this year by being intentional about being together—in whatever way you can, whether that’s in person or virtually. This year, value experiences over accessories and conversations over clutter.

About The Author

Patty Bonsera - Financial Therapist

Expert Patty Gale | CrunchyTales

Patty is the Founder of Fear.less Girl Financial, a personal finance boutique offering heart-centered money coaching and financial life planning for midlife women seeking, “What’s next?”. She picks up, where mainstream financial services leaves off, to bridge the gap between the emotional and practical in helping women shift how they see their relationship with their money. Patty believes money stories are not a taboo topic and she is passionate about changing the narrative of the discussion and removing the stigma.

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