Some might call me cheap. Some might call me frugal. Some might call me financially selective. Others might call me Scrooge.
You see, I haven’t done a lot of gift giving over the past couple of years. In fact, I’m not sure I actually got anyone anything last year. That is, unless you count my presence , as I took vacation days from work and flew to New York from rural Missouri for a fanciful two weeks of fun with friends and family.
Now before you get all up in arms about my lack of gift giving, let me note that I’m not one who either expects or feels entitled to receiving presents. I think I’d like to change it up this year though.
No, not about the feeling entitled (*cough* give me ALL of the presents! *cough*).
In all seriousness though, I do want to give the people who I care about nice somethings. However, I want to do so without breaking the bank. Here are three strategies that I’m going to adopt this holiday season:
1. Handmade Holiday Cards
While I don’t always give gifts, I do make an effort to send out Holiday cards each year. It doesn’t take a lot of time, it’s a nice personal thing to do, and it’s relatively inexpensive (even when you factor in the ever-rising price of stamps). However, I’d like to up the anty this year: homemade cards. Usually I just pick up whatever is cute that I find in a store. Last year, I bought two 16-packs of holiday cards from Target. I can’t remember exactly how much they cost, but a similar 16ct from Target currently costs $7.00. If I buy three packages of cards (I usually send more than 20), that’s $14 in cards plus applicable taxes. Add on $.45 stamps from USPS for each card sent and I’ll expect to be spending around $18.00 on two books of 20 Forever stamps (with some left over). That’s a whopping total of $32 spent on cards. While it’s likely that I won’t be able to reduce the cost that much (due to the inflexible cost of stamps), I think I will be able to save a few dollars and I’ll get to design – something I already enjoy doing.
2. Giving the Gift of Time
I don’t think that gifts need to be material items. In fact, I think they have the potential to be more special when they aren’t tangible items. One intangible thing that I can give is my time. And you can, too. Do you have a special skill that would be useful for someone else? Maybe you’re good at cleaning, baking, cleaning out garages, shoveling or any other thing around the house. Maybe you even have a career skill that you can offer to someone else. I will likely spend some time helping my mother out with her website and other branding items for her professional organizing business.
3. Saving on wrapping and other adornments
Periodically, I will forget my reusable grocery bag on the day that I go to Trader Joe’s. On those days, I bring home not one, but two brown paper bags. I save them so they do not go to waste. This year, instead of buying expensive wrapping paper, I will experiment with wrapping presents in the brown paper bags. If plain brown paper isn’t your style, consider using a cool ribbon or add some decor with painted stripes or shapes.
4. Set spending limits with your gift giving buddies
My sister and I are both into frugal gift giving. Each year we set a limit on what we will spend on each other. Sometimes we request specific items; sometimes we don’t. This year our budget is $25. I find that setting a low limit allows us to not become too stressed out about it and it helps us to avoid the whole Keeping Up with the Joneses thing. I also think that a low limit requires you to be more creative in coming up with something to give. If you’re not sure what to do, check out Pinterest from some cheap craft ideas or Google search away.