OK so I am really piggy-backing on Ashley’s similar post on this topic at Saving Money in your Twenties…
Whereas her post was about creative ways to spend less on holiday gifts, my main priority is getting it together soon enough. Christmas is 37 days away, and Thanksgivukkah is a breathless 10 days off.
I have been careful with holiday spending for as long as I have had loans, but I am usually not very good at keeping track of timing and planning. Poor planning/timing can reverse all your hard work on saving money by way of shipping fees rather than shopping local, overnighting things instead of regular mail, and missing out on sales and deals. Worst of all is when you can’t think of something to get for someone and wind up buying something expensive to compensate for the fact that you couldn’t think of something meaningful.
So this is a wake-up call (for me anyway) to get moving with holiday gifts. Despite my typical frugal hand-wringing over this category of spending, I love Christmas and the rare joy of getting together with family and exchanging little gifts. I want the special people in my life to get quality presents!
Here is the way I like to mosey into the process of gift selection:
- Start thinking about what all your loved ones like, need, or don’t know they need around October (gift ideas might spring from this initial brainstorm; start shopping around for options regardless of price)
- Really think especially on the “things people don’t know they need” category for interesting options. The bf’s parents a couple years back bought us a round of training for our dog for Christmas, and that was really helpful all around.
- If still stuck, see if you could buy something that that the person was going to get anyway (calendars, planners, subscriptions). Sounds blah but you can spruce up this type of gift by customizing, upgrading it, or otherwise personalizing to the person’s tastes.
- If still stuck, zero in on the best book option – everyone likes something, and there is a book on literally everything.
- By now, it might be end of November to mid-December, and you should make sure you have identified the cheapest option for your gifts, all other things equal. Stuff on Amazon always seems like the cheapest option, but the shipping can be deceptive. A book on Amazon might look good at $14, but the shipping might be $7 and the same book might be available at a local book store for $16. $5 is significant if you can shave it off 5 different gifts.
Here is what I definitely don’t do: Black Friday. Tried it one year and will not be doing that again. The “right price” for a gift should include your sanity and dignity.
Good luck peeps! Feel free to leave comments if you need to brainstorm about gift ideas.