Holidays on the Cheap. That’s the plan, anyway. Did you do it last year? Have you ever done it? The idea behind giving at the holidays is to give, not necessarily spend. The one with the most toys is not the winner; the one with the biggest bill is not most favored.
Giving a gift – wedding, birthday, holiday, mother’s or father’s day—it’s about expressing your love for that person. Yes, sometimes we really do want to show it by giving someone that gift that is more expensive than what we’d normally spend—and if it’s budgeted for, you can! But you’ve got to think it through. Plan ahead. Birthdays and each holiday come once a year.
Some budget gift ideas:
Baking isn’t as inexpensive as it used to be, but if you like to bake, and bake things people like, that’s a gift. (You don’t even need to buy a container that’ll end up in a garage sale.) A plate or bag with a ribbon works nicely and saves you a couple bucks right there. Make some jam, jelly or can some vegetables. Make some bread. If you bake in the winter, you’ll help heat your house on a cold day by baking then, too! Don’t bake, but are a good cook? Cook a meal for someone or have a gathering and let them know before they come over that this is their gift from you. Take someone on a picnic when the weather’s nice. Some wasabe peas and cheese samples. Get a nice, small basket at a garage sale, re-use a gift bag, or decorate a brown bag you have in the kitchen. Put some fruit in it, or vegetables and a recipe for them to make stir fry or chili. Wash someone’s car, maybe even wax it! They have some great spray on, wipe off waxes now. You don’t have to be made of muscle to use them like in the old days. Would they love you to clean their windows? Walk their dog? Babysit their kids? (If you know you wouldn’t well with certain jobs, don’t offer it.) Is someone moving? Tell them you’ll help them out. Find a charity (I love Heifer International) and give cards letting co-workers, and others know you’ve given a gift (a goat!) in their names. I love to do this a thank you gifts to groups of people.
Growing up, I’d ask my mom, “What do you want for ________?” (your birthday, Christmas) etc.
She’d answer, “Clean dishes.”
“Nooooooo. What do you want?”
“Everyone to get along.”
“Nooooooo. Really. What do you want?”
“It is what I want.”
“What can I get you?”
“A handkerchief—or clean dishes, or everyone getting along.”
She always got the hanky. She’d given choices. One was a chore. One was a behavior. One was affordable for a kid.
Are people asking you for a chore or behavior, but you want to hear something easier to give? When we give, it’s about the other person, and yet it speaks so loudly about us. Just a warning: hankies have really gone up in price.
If you’re going to spend anyway, keep these things in mind:
– Make your list – the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend for this event.
– Have you included everyone/everything on the list? Groups you may be involved that do gift exchanges? Taxes on your purchases? Travel?
– Eat before you go shopping. If you don’t like crowds go during “off” hours (weekdays, or nights.)
– If you’re someone who doesn’t like shopping, exercise before shopping (you’ll feel better). Before shopping, you may want to take a look at your retirement projection, kid’s college cost forecast, or keep the question in mind, “Would I rather give or buy this, or give or do that?” For me, that’s a question that allows me to walk out of the store (often without something) with my head high, and my goals in tact.
– I’ve heard it suggested people go to the store one day of “big item” things, and “small item” things on an other day. The theory is, if you buy something at $1,000.00 then turn around and see something for $150.00, you’ll think, “What a deal!” and buy the item at $150.00 without even thinking it through.
Holidays on the cheap. It doesn’t mean don’t give. It means get creative. Think. Listen. Give from the heart. Have fun! Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your friends and family.
If you’re interested in seeing how charities rank with how they spend the money they raise, check out Charity Navigator. If you’re not familiar with Heifer International, give it a quick look. The links are below: