The Countdown to Christmas is on—20 days until Christmas.
Ask us how your company can sponsor our countdown. We have a variety of packages to fit your promotional needs.
It is all too easy to let our holiday gift budgets get out of control. With lists of people we want to gift, more we’ve nearly forgotten and holiday parties galore, it seems the number of gifts we need is endless. The key to controlling your Christmas budget is to set limits and stick with it! Even if you can’t eliminate anyone on your list, there are still ways to reduce expenses.
Reduce the Number of Presents
Are your children used to seeing stacks and stacks of gifts under tree? We cut the number of gifts we give each child in half several years ago, and it has been great not only for controlling our budget but in forcing us to choose better gifts. I want to give my children items that will still be around next Christmas, rather than junky toys that find their way under the beds, stuffed into closets or in the trash before Valentine’s Day.
We use a Victorian poem to select our presents. In our family, you get “Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, And something to read.” We have a lot of fun getting creative with the categories. I like having a formula for my girls’ gifts to make my choices easier. This poem still allows for one frivolous, off-the-wishlist present combined with a few items that will have a bit more longevity to them.
I have also heard from people who take their cues from the Three Wise Men. If it was good enough for Baby Jesus, it’s good enough for our children. Each person in the family gets 3 gifts, just like the first Christmas. In fact, you can take it a step further by combining the two ideas. One of the gifts would be a want, something fairly frivolous, like the gold given to Jesus. The other two gifts should be more useful items, just like the essential oils of frankincense and myrrh.
Unique Gift Exchanges
Of course, it isn’t just gifts among our family at home anymore. There are gift exchanges at larger family gatherings, among coworkers, through clubs and other activities. The first step is deciding which exchanges you’ll participate in—it’s okay to say no if something isn’t in your budget. Once you know you’ll be exchanging gifts with a group, set some parameters. Establish a budget and decide on how you’ll swap. There are also some fun alternatives to simply drawing names that could help really lower the costs for everyone involved.
Consider a themed gift exchange to limit purchases. Have everyone involved bring a new, wrapped Christmas ornament instead of a pricier gift. It’s a great way to add to your holiday collection while keeping your costs in check. I always find it interesting to see what ornaments people are drawn to select. The theme can be as specific as the ornament exchange or broad, such as “in the kitchen” to give participants a guideline for their selections.
Another way to lower your budget is to have everyone fill a stocking for one another instead of buying more expensive gifts. We do this at my grandparents’ house for Christmas each year. The grandchildren (and, now, great-grandchildren) each have a stocking with their name on it. Everyone brings wrapped $1 gifts to fill each stocking. It is a tradition that has gone on since I was a baby, but we’ve recently made it our only gift exchange. We eliminated the $25 gift exchange a few years ago since the stockings were beginning to overflow as we grew up and bought gifts of our own to contribute. Buying 14 $1 gifts over 3 $25 gifts saves a big chunk for our family!
The Roberts family started a new tradition a few years ago that saves even more. Julia, author and life coach at Motherhood to Otherhood, told me about her family’s regift exchange. You’ve heard of a White Elephant, bringing something from around the house to unload on the other participants, but Julia has a new twist on the idea. The items should be free, but they still make an effort to shop at home for thoughtful gifts their family members will enjoy. You can choose a book from your own collection that a parent would like or gift the shoes you bought on sale and never returned to a sibling who would be a better fit. People regift all the time. This is a fun way to do it openly, with love.
However you choose to exchange gifts with your friends and family, it is important to set parameters from the very beginning to avoid confusion or hurt feelings along the way. Set guidelines, set a budget and have fun with it. You should also remember that “under $10” means under $10. You can often get a nice gift for even less! Be sure to check back next week as our countdown to Christmas continues—I’ll be sharing some specific ideas for low cost gifts.