Picking out gifts for friends and family can be the best part of the holiday season, but while it may truly feel better to give than receive, this sentiment can take a toll on your bank account. This year, we refuse to let presents stress us out. Follow our guide to keeping track of what you spend on gifts, and you’ll be able to check everyone off on your “nice” list with a smile.
Prioritize the list of people you need to get gifts for:
Ask yourself one simple question: Would I be offended if they didn’t get a gift for me? If the answer is yes, keep them on your list. If the answer is no, but you’d still like to do something small for them, remember that cards with a sincere, hand-written message are always appreciated.
Pick a budget–and stick to it:
Be realistic when deciding on a budget. Don’t spend more than you have, and definitely don’t feel the need to spend every last penny you’ve allowed yourself for holiday spending. Once you have a budget, divide it up among the people on your list. Then stick to it.
Host a Secret Santa/Yankee Swap:
This method works best with a group of friends, large families, or work colleagues. Instead of buying every single person in your social circle a present, have everyone put their names in a hat and take turns drawing them out. Keep the person you picked a secret, and agree as a group on the price minimum and limit. You only buy one present, but everyone ends up giving and receiving. Host a party or dinner for the final exchange!
Don’t forget about homemade gifts:
If you’re on a tight budget but still want to give, check out our DIY gift guide. We’re especially partial to the peppermint bark. Making something yourself shows that you put the time and effort into creating a thoughtful gift with your own two hands, instead of just passing your credit card over a counter.
Start shopping now:
Around this time of year, good things do not come to those who wait. Start your shopping now to avoid last minute, over-priced purchases made out of desperation. You’ll be able to shop around, find deals, and put things on hold if need be. Nothing is worse than putting off your brother-in-law come Christmas Eve, causing you to run out and buy the first sweater in his size. It’s $300? Oops.
Make general decisions ahead of time:
Before you venture out with your credit card in hand, have an idea of the stores you want to go in and the type of presents you are looking for. If you don’t narrow down your selection ahead of time, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed. Planning will allow you to figure out which stores will fit your budget–or just go where the sales are.
Speaking of sales:
There are a ton of them this time of year. Check online at your favorite retailers, as many of them offer free holiday shipping as well. Call the stores you intend to visit ahead of time to be sure sales are still going on and to find out when they will end. There is nothing wrong with buying a gift for someone at a reduced price as long as it is still a thoughtful, quality product. Just remember–never buy a gift for someone just because it’s on sale.
Don’t get tricked:
Sales can be deceiving at times. You’re at the cash register, you’re ready to check out, and the cashier informs you that if you spend ten more dollars, you can get free lip gloss. If you weren’t already looking for a lip gloss, don’t take the bait. That’s $10 you could save for something else.
Gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant to be enjoyed. As corny as it sounds, this time of year is about getting together with family and friends. The real gift is ejoying the company of your loved ones.
Not sure what to wear to your holiday party? Find the perfect dress to flatter your figure here.