Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s totally acceptable to start thinking about the holidays. Sure, Thanksgiving is a big deal, but we all know that Christmas is what people are really talking about when they refer to “the holidays.” Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you actually celebrate the religious part or not; Christmas is just a BIG deal here in the states.
For some, this means mistletoe, Elf on the Shelf, and delicious food. For others, though, the thought of Christmas brings with it mind-melting anxiety. This may be because you have to deal with family drama, packed airports, or stir-crazy kiddos. Or, you may just be seriously stressing out on how you are going to possibly afford gifts for your family and loved ones.
Well, have no fear, as Auntie Shannyn is here to relieve those worries, once and for all. If there is one thing I know, it’s how to buy quality with very little quantity (eh-hem, read: MONEY). So, without further ado, here are 6 easy ways to save money on holiday gifts…….
First- Set a Budget!
No matter what you can or cannot spend, you won’t hit your mark without a plan. SunTrust OnUp provides an easy to follow Budget Worksheet that will help you start your season off right! You can also plan out the entire season with their Holiday Guide to plan out a creative and meaningful holiday season- no matter what amount you’ve set in your budget.
You’ll want to take into account all the expenses you’ll encur- from air travel, pet boarding, office parties, ugly sweater parties, new holiday decorations, charitable gifts, not just gifts. Knowing all the small expenses that sneak up on you can help you better set a realistic amount for gifts, without getting stressed as the month rolls by.
If you aren’t shopping Amazon on a regular basis, you are missing out. Amazon carries everything, and by everything I mean EV-ERY-THING. Plus, their deals are amazing and are usually the best on the web. Not to mention, their Amazon Prime membership gives you free 2-day shipping, as well as a variety of other snazzy benefits. (Not a member? Get a free 30-day trial here.)
When looking for the best deal on Amazon for specific items on a loved one’s wishlist, I like to utilize CamelCamelCamel (or C³, as I prefer to call it). C³ allows you to create price alerts on Amazon items and will notify you when it reaches your preferred price. I can’t tell you how many great deals I’ve scored thanks to good ol’ C³!
No one ever said your gifts have to be brand spankin’ new. The age old adage what they don’t know won’t kill them certainly applies here. So go out and rummage through thrift stores, garage sales, and antique shops! And feel ok buying off of eBay, Craigslist, or a Facebook swap and shop group. Seriously, y’all, they’ll never know! Plus, buying used is good for the environment, so consider it a nice gift for Mother Earth, too.
Making your own gifts is a fantastic way to save money, and you really don’t need to be Martha Stewart to be successful. My biggest recommendation when going this route is to utilize your strengths. If you are a skilled photographer, frame a special print for them. If you are a killer cook, bake them some treats or give them a coupon for one homemade meal per month. A scrapbook is always super appreciated, as is a crocheted scarf or knitted hat. Or, offer to pet or baby sit for them. Of course, if you are still lacking inspiration, hop on over to Pinterest for about a million more ideas. Literally.
Keep it Simple with the Kids
Let’s be honest: Even the best kids go a little crazy at Christmas. Frugality and giving are both learned behaviors, so if you have kiddos, consider reigning in the “me me me’s!” by using the 5 Gift Christmas Challenge. Every year, your kiddos get one of the following:
Not only does this teach your kids about the more important things in life, but it can drastically cut down on your spending. This is especially true if you utilize some of the other tips I listed above.
Something to Read
In my opinion, “Something they Read” is the most important of the 5 types of gifts. We’ve put together a little list of books we think every child should have:
Using Money Wisely and Finance Kids Books
- Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
- A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many?
- The Kids’ Money Book: Earning, Saving, Spending, Investing, Donating
- Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money
- One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money
- I Want More Pizza: Real World Money Skills For High School, College, And Beyond
- The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens: 8 Steps to Having More Money Than Your Parents Ever Dreamed Of
Social Justice & Empowering Kids Books:
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
- I Am Enough
- Dream Big, Little One
- Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference
- A Year Full of Stories: 52 Classic Stories from All Around the World
- Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey
- I Am Jazz
- Beyond Magenta
- Dreamland Burning
If you have a large family or group of friends, picking names is always a thrifty way to handle gift-giving. In a nutshell, everyone puts their name in a hat and then each person picks a name. You are then in charge of getting a gift for that person and that person only.
If you decide to pick names, be sure that everyone agrees on a budget. Take it from me, it is a little embarrassing when one person spends $20 and the other $200. Sticking to a budget makes the experience special for everyone.
Well, my dears, I’m hopeful that these six tips on how to save money on holiday gifts helps relieve some of the anxiety you’re feeling. Remember, Christmas is really about love and friendship. Try to remember that if things start to feel overwhelming. It helps, I promise.