Something many of us don't like to think about...
The dreaded days of full store parking lots, trying to find that perfect present, and then waiting in crazy lines at the store. How can it be that time again already!?!?!?!
I must admit, I'm not done with my shopping yet, although I have a good start. This year I hope to be as frugal as ever with happy results.
How can you be frugal with Christmas gifts? What if someone wants to exchange something?
First, I start by looking at the list of gifts I gave last year to be sure no one gets a duplicate this year. I tend to forget every year what I gave someone last year, and how embarising to give the same gift twice in a row (some exceptions here)! If you don't write down your gifts, try and make an effort to do this this year, it will definatley help next year. Place your list in a special place in your desk drawer, or if you're afraid you'll misplace it, put it with your Christmas wrapping paper so you'll know where to find it when you're ready to start shoppping.
Next, consider what I already have on hand. What have I bought throughout the year with the intent that "this will make a nice gift". I have a place in a spare closet where I put these kinds of items.
Then I go through my stockpile of extra items that I've found at a discount and see what I have that may work as a gift basket combination. I may have a lot of bath soaps, shampoos, and sponges that would make a nice bath set for someone and these are full size and name brand instead of the ones you buy premade. I might find nice razors and shaving creams for the men, candle/house scents for the ladies, or a supply of baking or cooking supplies for the cooks I know.
Handmade gifts are wonderful presents to give and to receive. Nothing says "you mean a lot to me" like something you made. Whether it be something specifically made for that person, an easy fix meal or cookie mix for someone, or a plate of special treats. Handmade means you spent your own time and effort on something and means a lot. Don't underestimate your time & thought value to someone.
What else? There is always that someone that you just can't find the perfect gift for. They either have all they want as far as you can see, or really don't want for much or simply don't have room for it. For these people I suggest a gift of time or service for them. Maybe you can watch their kids for them one night a month, or shovel their walk of snow or rake their leaves when you're in town, or make a special dinner for them - or if you're not into cooking... just take them out for dinner. Give them a handmade gift certificate, doesn't have to be fancy, describing what you want to do for them in the upcoming year.
This is much more special then just giving them a gift card somewhere. It says "I enjoy spending time with you and I'm making an effort to do that in a special way."
Christmas doesn't have to mean using your credit cards to make it through. It simply means being creative and sharing love with those around you. $ doesn't equal love... time and thought does.
You say... but my kids need/want_____ , __________ , and _________ for Christmas this year. Can I suggest this... get one of those gifts that you feel most appropriate for them, maybe get a family board game to promote more family time, and provide them with gift certificates. One that says... bowling night with the family, one that says extra book at bedtime, time at the park or whatever your kids favorite things to do as a family are. Gift certificates say to kids that you are willing to take time out of your schedule when they need you.... they say, you're more important than X, Y, and Z.
Keep it simple! People appreciate what you did, not what you bought.
Don't break the bank...