December 2, 2014

Frugal Living Series: Gift Giving for Less

It's December 2 and I am completely done Christmas shopping. Sort of.

It seems I have become the personal shopping assistant to quite a few family members who live in and beyond these four walls. Just need to help two boys who need to buy gifts for their sisters, and then it will be finished.

How? Well, I started last December. I wish I was making this up. Alas, it is true.

Starting last Christmas break, the children and I began making homemade gifts for this Christmas. Yes, you read that right. All gifts were and are still currently stored in an old dresser drawer. We wrapped them individually in wax paper and labeled each with the recipient's name. Later this week, we'll pull them all out.

The majority of stocking stuffers, which we make and/or purchase for our children, were acquired between June and November. Usually, we shop the dollar aisle or clearance racks for small items, spending on average $1 or less per gift. I keep a listing of the trinkets we have. Each child gets ten small items in their stocking. {We don't do Santa, but we still maintain a traditional stocking stuffed with little trinkets and candies.}

For larger gifts, we stick to a three gifts per child limit. These we start buying in the warmer months as sales present themselves and cash flow allows. Again, I keep a list and we stick to a budget. We try to make the gifts look about the same, but aren't particular about spending exactly the same amount on each child. This may sound harsh, but if I can find something that was originally $50 and with sales and coupons purchase it for $15, it still looks like a $50 gift. Most years, we work in categories of gift types, like one toy/fun gift, one book, and a piece of clothing.

Our children exchange names for their Christmas gifts to each other. We decided on this long ago as a way to cut expenses and limit the amount of gifts under the tree. It seems to be the perfect solution to helping our children give to another, but not go overboard. {We aren't Scrooges, but we want to try to keep a focus on Christ at Christmas.}

For family and friends near and far, we try to give Christmas cards each year which include a picture. This year, we used these. Since they were taken over the summer, I worked on a layout in September and ordered sometime after during a fabulous sale. We've had the cards for weeks now and I work on them intermittently as I have time. The cards will be ready to mail soon.

Extended family is a little less formulated. Actually, extended family can be tough. Left unchecked, it can wreck havoc on our meager gift budget. We try to either make gifts for our extended family members or give in other ways. The listing below reflects some of the ideas we have used over the years. Homemade gift ideas are found in these posts: 2010, 2011, and 2013.

4 Low to No Cost Gift Ideas:
  • Gifts of Time - Lots of loved ones would trade any material gift just to spend the day with you and your family! Spend the time, not the money and make a memory.
  • Gifts of Talent - Are you artistic? creative? We each have talents and gifts that can be shared in unique ways. I've given photographs, homemade stationary, and blankets as gifts. If you are blessed with great talent then you could give even greater gifts. A super talented photographer could give the gift of a photo session.  
  • Free Events - Attend a community event with your loved one. We've been to Christmas light displays, ballet recitals, plays, and concerts for free. Just recently I found out the local symphony has a free night!
  • Free Passes - Sometimes, these are called homemade coupons. We use to make these when we were children. It can be quirky, but if done with the recipient in mind, it could be very meaningful.

3 Tips to Reasonable Gift Giving:
  • Set a Low Budget - We challenge ourselves to spend less than we have in years past.
  • Reduce the Gifts You Give - This seems harsh and uncharitable, but perhaps it is the most generous thing you can do this year. For us, we give less large gifts to live within our means and give more elsewhere at other times.
  • Know Why You Choose to Give - Maybe gift giving is a love language. Some of us are wired that way. That's great! Giving is an expression of love. It should be that way. But giving to out-do or look good is not a reasonable reason.

Reading over all of this, I concede: It is a lot of work indeed! However, for us, it is worth it to set limits and work within these spending goals. In years past, when we weren't so formulated, Christmas would get out of hand. Quickly. I like to think we've learned from our mistakes and grown in wisdom.
~ Dorie

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...