If you are like me, you’re dreading Holiday Gift planning. Sure, the idea of thinking up thoughtful and fun gifts to give those special people on your shopping list might be fun, but the reality of fighting the crowds searching for that *right* gift and spending all sorts of money that we may or may not have. . .that can sometimes be a very different story. Plus, the list of folks to shop for just seems like it grows and grows. Then, there’s the process of shipping gifts to and fro if you’re recipients live out of town. Hate to break it to you, but that’s more fighting the crowds, more spending money and more items being added to the ever-growing Holiday To-Do list.
I’m not a scrooge, I swear! I love Christmas. . .LOVE Christmas. It’s actually my favorite time of year. But, it’s also hands down the time of year that brings the most stress for me.
While there not might be anything that we can do to totally eliminate the necessity of Holiday gift giving stress, there are things that can be done to minimize the stress and hassle. And, save your budget. I don’t know about you, but I typically find it hardest to stick to my budget during the Holidays. I just get so caught up in all the wonderful things that I want other people to have. See, I’m not a scrooge! It all lies in having a plan.
Yes, a plan.
It’s really honestly not all that difficult to achieve, actually. In fact, I’ve even pulled together a planning tool to help you out. See, I care about you and I want to help you have less stress. Download the planning tool by clicking on the link below.
To help you even further, I’ll walk you through how I typically approach my Holiday Gift Planning.
First, grab coffee. Always coffee. Best thinking comes with a hot cup of coffee right along with it!
If you have an overall budget amount for gifts, that’s going to make the entire process a lot more straightforward. You will then be able to allocate a spending amount, per person, to help guide spending and final gift list. There’s a handy spot to record your overall budgetary amount at the top of the page. While it can definitely be hard to nail yourself down to an overall amount (trust me, I get it!), I am going to strongly advise you to declare an amount. Even if it’s a flexible number, go ahead and declare it. Or, if you don’t currently have an amount, go ahead and use the number that you think you will spend on gifts this year. You can always adjust the amount later, if you need to.
Next, out all of the folks that you want to be sure to recognize this year around the Holidays. To make it easier to brainstorm, I’ve included groupings of people that you may want to think about. There’s also a spot next to each person’s name to identify the amount you want to budget for their gift(s) and a place where you can start to brainstorm gift ideas for them. You may already have the perfect gift in mind but you may just need to record some ideas for that person. Either is fine! For example, next to your teenage son, you may want to record “XBox One” if you already know that’s at the top of his wish list. Next to Grandma’s name, you may want to record “loves purple — maybe pair of purple gloves?” if you’re not quite sure yet.
Once you have all of the important people in your life written down, total up the amounts that you have allocated to each person. Determine if that total aligns with your overall budgeted amount. If not, and there is a big difference between what you have allocated overall and what you’ve allocated to each person, well. . .we have some work to do.
If your amount for each person totals up to more than your overall budget, you have a couple of options:
- (perhaps the most obvious) would be to increase your overall budgeted amount. Unfortunately, most of us don’t always have the option to just increase the amount that we have budgeted for something. If it’s an option for you and it’s not going to cause you to go into debt, (because that’s not the goal, here) then feel free to raise the overall amount. I, for one, know that’s usually never an option for me. I wish. . .but it’s often a bit more painful than that in my household. Therefore, The Frugal Virginia Farmhouse often has to resort to one of the following options. . .
- Reduce the amount that you have budgeted for each person or some of the people on your list until you get in line with your budget. Sometimes, this isn’t as difficult as it seems. If you’ve budgeted $15/person at work and there are 5 people in your office, reducing that to $12/person would bring you $15 closer than the direction you need to go. However, if you’ve initially budgeted only $5/person at work, it may be hard to shave that down any further. Therefore, the next option may be in order. . . .
- Reduce your list. Yes, I know it sounds utterly scrooge-ish of me to say. But, if your gift recipient list is more extensive than you can realistically afford, it may be your only option. I’ve been there more times than I wish I had to admit. As I’ve written out my list and seen it on paper up against the budget that I have for gifts, I have had to make hard decisions before. It sucks. . .yes. I’ll totally give you that. Here’s the way I look at it: the people that I have on my list are there because they are good, decent, caring people who I like and am fond of. Right? None of them would want me spending beyond my means during the Holidays for the sake of getting them a gift. I’m betting the people on your list would tell you the same. So, you may find that you have to remove some people from your overall list.
That is not to say that the people who don’t end up on your final gift list just don’t get recognized this Holiday Season! No, no, no! There are so many other ways to recognize someone than to just spend money buying them a gift. I’ll have a post coming soon on some Homemade gift ideas and maybe that will help. In the meantime, here are a few other ideas that you may want to consider:
- Add them to your Christmas Card list. People love getting Christmas cards!
- Instead of a store bought gift for each person in the office or church, make a platter of cookies or a cake to take in and everyone can enjoy. Just be mindful of any allergies that may prevent someone from indulging!
- Give friends and neighbors gift certificates to services that you can provide: babysitting, help in the garden, canning, painting, etc. I once gave a friend who I knew was moving in January a gift certificate “entitling” her to a full day of my help packing for her move. It was much appreciated by her and it was easy for me to block out my Saturday to help. It also cost me nothing. In my book, that’s a win all around. Chances are, you have some special hidden talents that people would be really excited to be on the receiving end of. You just have to be willing to dig deep and find out what they are!
Be sure to come back and checkout my Homemade Holiday gifts post on Friday where I highlight some of the most frugal homemade gifts that I’ve given out over the years as well as some others that I’m excited to try.