Wondering how you can possibly give awesome Christmas gifts on a budget? It is possible, I promise! All you need is a little creativity and these helpful tips to save money on Christmas gifts this year. And the best part is that your family and friends will never even know that their gifts were actually super budget-friendly!
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Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.
Charlie Brown: What is it you want?
Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate.
This is one of my very favorite quotes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and while I doubt you have plans to buy real estate for anyone on your Christmas list this year, even the smaller things can be a real budget-killer. Maybe you’re wondering how you can possibly give fantastic Christmas gifts on your less-than-fantastic Christmas budget. Or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to save money on Christmas gifts without it looking like you tried to save money on Christmas gifts.
Either way, I totally get it.
Christmas gifts can add up quickly, especially if you have a long list of people to shop for. But you don’t have to let Christmas gifts break the bank. There are plenty of ways to give awesome Christmas gifts on a budget, and I can guarantee that your family will never even know that you scored some pretty sweet deals on gifts this year!
So if you need help saving money on Christmas gifts, then you’re in the right place! I’m going to share with you my very best tips that will help you get the biggest bang for your buck. Let’s get started, shall we?
How to Give the Best Christmas Gifts on a Budget
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to give awesome Christmas gifts. In fact, there are plenty of ways to give good gifts without blowing your Christmas budget! From figuring out who you really need to shop for to finding the best deals on the items you know you’re going to buy, these are the strategies that I’ve personally found useful when trying to maximize my gift-giving dollars.
Eliminate people from your gift list
Let’s be honest. Do you really need to buy a gift for every single extended family member? We’re all adults here, and you and your extended family members likely don’t even need anything for Christmas. So why continue exchanging gifts when nobody needs anything? The very best gift we can give our loved ones is quality time, so make this year more about togetherness than gifts.
This year is actually the first year that I’ve tried this method, and it went a lot better than I thought it would! Among the cousins in my family (all of us are between 25 and 40 years old), we decided to not exchange gifts this year. None of us need anything, and we all recognize that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Instead, we’ll focus on our traditional family gathering where we all come together on Christmas Eve for dinner and a candlelight church service.
Among the extended family members that you still buy gifts for, why not draw names to reduce the number of gifts you have to buy? You might call it Secret Santa or something else, but we just call it drawing names.
Each person writes his or her name on a slip of paper and puts it in a hat. Once all the names are in the hat, each person draws out a name and buys a gift for that person. You could even agree on a dollar limit to make the gifts more affordable.
This method is a good way to still exchange gifts while keeping the total cost down.
Suggest a white elephant exchange
If your family is up for it, why not suggest a white elephant gift exchange? This method is both free AND provides a way for you to get rid of some things you no longer want.
The basic idea is to “shop” your house for an item that you no longer want to keep. Maybe it’s a vase that no longer matches your decor, or a picture frame that you don’t use. Once you pick out the item, wrap it and bring it to the gift exchange. Simply number each gift and write the same numbers on slips of paper before putting the slips in a hat. Have each person draw a number to decide who gets what gift.
This kind of gift exchange can bring lots of laughter, especially if the gifts are tacky or unusual.
Set a spending limit for each person on your list
After you’ve narrowed down your list of people you need to buy gifts for using the first three tips, set a spending limit for each person on your list. This will prevent you from overspending when you see all the pretty things displayed in department stores.
Related: How to Create Your Christmas Budget
Use cash instead of debit or credit cards
When shopping, we tend to spend less money when we use cash than when we use credit or debit cards. That’s because we don’t like seeing our hard-earned cash leaving our hands. Swiping a piece of plastic doesn’t have the same effect, so we tend to spend more when we use credit or debit cards.
Also, paying with cash forces you to stay within a certain spending limit. You can’t spend cash you don’t have, so taking only the amount of cash you budgeted for each person is a great way to keep your spending on track.
Buy discount gift cards to do your shopping
You may or may not be aware that you can buy discounted gift cards online. Check Gift Card Granny to see if there are any gift cards for the stores where you plan to do your shopping. You can save up to 50% when you buy discounted gift cards, but for the stores where I typically shop, the savings is usually around 10%. Still, every little bit adds up!
Ditch gift cards as gifts
This is a fairly new concept for me. I’ve always purchased gift cards for Christmas gifts thinking I was saving money. But when I started to do the math, I quickly realized that gift cards can get expensive!
Don’t get me wrong. Gift cards are an excellent option when you have no idea what to buy someone. But the problem is that they’re a fixed dollar amount. You’re always going to spend $25, $50, or some other amount when you buy them. On the other hand, you have the potential to save money when you opt for a tangible gift.
Check Amazon for a cheaper or even used version of the item you want
Check Amazon before you buy from any other retailer. You never know what kind of savings you might find there, especially if you’re willing to buy a used version of the item.
The closer you wait until Christmas to do your shopping, the more money you’re going to spend. Stores offer all kinds of really good sales in November, so try to get your shopping done while prices are steeply discounted. It definitely pays off to be the early bird!
Save coupons from sales circulars
Keep an eye on your mailbox for sales circulars. This time of year is sure to bring in sales pages and flyers from all kinds of stores. In fact, you probably already have a stack of sales circulars sitting on your table just begging you to come into their stores! Instead of tossing them out, look through your favorite stores’ circulars and cut out any relevant coupons to use when you go shopping.
Shop sales and pair with coupons
You can take the previous idea one step further by pairing those circular coupons with sales. You’ll get an even bigger bang for your buck if you can use the coupon on top of a good sale.
Shop pre-Black Friday sales
As we start approaching Thanksgiving, many stores begin offering pre-Black Friday sales that allow you to save a lot of money without having to venture out on Black Friday. I’ve even seen some stores advertise that their pre-Black Friday sales are the same or better than their actual Black Friday sales. Whether that’s true or not is anybody’s guess, but you can be sure to get a better deal than you would during a regular sale.
Shop Black Friday
Personally, I don’t do Black Friday. I used to when I was younger, but that quickly went out the window when I met my husband.
You see, we met at Walmart when he was working there to put himself through college. He had to work Black Friday every single year, but it didn’t just require him to work on Friday. He actually had to go into work on Thanksgiving, and he typically worked a 14-hour shift from 6:00pm on Thanksgiving to around 8:00am on Friday.
Seeing firsthand how Black Friday affects retail workers put a sour taste in my mouth, and I vowed that I would never support it again. There is no gift that I need badly enough to cause someone else to have to work on Thanksgiving.
BUT, if you are so strapped for cash and none of these other methods will allow you to get the gifts you must buy, then Black Friday shopping is a way to save money.
Shop online and pair with online coupon codes
If you’re looking for a specific item, check to see if you can get it for less online. Sometimes stores charge less when you buy from their website rather than their physical location, but be sure the shipping charges don’t cost more than what you’ll be saving. And be sure to use any relevant coupon codes you see featured on the website!
Shop T.J.Maxx and other similar retailers
Stores such as T.J.Maxx, Ross, HomeGoods, and Marshalls have brand-name items for a fraction of the price of regular department stores.
T.J.Maxx and Ross are my personal favorites, especially since they have a little bit of everything. I find that Ross is a little less expensive than T.J.Maxx, but I also have to weed through more cheap brands to find the good stuff. When I’m not in the mood to spend hours searching for the right thing, I head to T.J.Maxx instead.
This year, I challenged myself to give actual gifts rather than gift cards. I might be alone here, but I prefer seeing a variety of present sizes under my tree instead of a bunch of tiny gift card boxes.
With this new goal in mind, I went straight to T.J.Maxx to check off my Christmas list. And do you know what happened? I was able to find gifts for seventeen out of twenty-two people on my list! And yes, that includes men as well.
You know what else? I actually came in under budget on many of my gifts! When you shop at these kinds of retailers, you can buy quality gifts that seem expensive, but are actually quite affordable. Basically, you can get more (quality and/or quantity) for less money.
Give handmade gifts
Sometimes we might feel a little awkward giving handmade gifts. I’m not sure why though, because I always love receiving handmade gifts.
If you’re particularly crafty or talented, I’m sure your family and friends would love a sampling of your work. I’ve personally given pottery, artwork, soaps, scented bath salts, wool dryer balls, baked goodies, and dry soup mixes as gifts. People loved them!
Some of my favorite handmade gifts that I’ve received include knit scarves, crochet coasters, crochet dish cloths, canvas paintings, lotions, canned soups, and dry cookie mix. I’ve never felt like these gifts were any less “real” than store-bought gifts. In fact, I always enjoy the personal touch of each handmade gift.
Give family gift baskets
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a dear friend. With both of us being savvy shoppers, our conversation naturally landed on how to save money on Christmas gifts. Her solution? Make family gift baskets!
I’ve always been a fan of gift baskets, but I had never considered giving them as Christmas gifts. I really liked her ideas, so I’ll tell you how she does it.
If you exchange gifts with extended family members, you might consider giving a family gift basket to each family unit rather than giving a gift to each person. So, each family unit (mom/dad/kids or husband/wife combo) gets a basket filled with all sorts of goodies.
You can create a themed basket if you want a cohesive feel to your gift.
My friend often gives food-themed baskets since her family cans vegetables from their garden. She mentioned creating a soup basket filled with dry soup mix, canned vegetables, soup bowls, and artisan crackers. She also makes date-themed baskets filled with chocolates, wine glasses, sparkling grape juice, and a romantic movie.
A similar idea might be a movie-themed basket filled with popcorn, popcorn buckets, boxes of candy, and a movie. Get creative with your themes! The possibilities are endless!
My friend is able to create budget-friendly gift baskets by finding baskets at yard sales and making some handmade items to fill them. And she says her family loves them! It’s a real treat for each family to dig through the basket to see what all is inside. She said it often seems like they enjoy her gift baskets more than individual gifts!
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it! There are plenty of ways to give awesome Christmas gifts on a budget, so don’t let the gift-giving aspect of the holiday season put you in a financial bind.
Remember, Christmas isn’t about giving expensive gifts. Rather, it’s about spending time with loved ones and showing them that you care. Don’t ever feel like you have to go in debt just to give a gift; your family wouldn’t want to be the cause of your financial stress.
Instead, give gifts that fit easily into your budget so you can fully enjoy this special time of year without having to worry about money.
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What about you? What tips do you have for buying awesome Christmas gifts on a budget? I’m all for learning new ways to save money on Christmas gifts!
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