The Christmas season is an exhilarating time of year. Schedules fill quickly with plans to see friends and family, weekends are filled with parties and pageant rehearsals, and afternoons are spent baking cookies or watching Christmas movies and sipping hot cocoa.
Being so busy often leaves little time for preparation of our hearts and our wallets regarding Christmas gifts. We often feel obligated to buy for everyone we know, so we overspend.
Be intentional this Christmas season. Really reflect on the meaning of Christmas: to celebrate God’s greatest gift. We give gifts to imitate God’s gift to us, not to out-do one another or win over loved ones with money.
Take an hour to plan a budget and make a gift list, then use these money-saving ideas to give meaningful gifts you can afford.
1. Use cash only.
It’s easier to spend more when you don’t actually see the money leave your hands.
2. Buy photo gifts.
You can easily turn any photo into a wonderful gift at a photo shop or online retailer. You can create calendars, posters, note cards, coffee mugs, playing cards and much more. Sign up with sites like Walgreens or Shutterfly to receive specials via e-mail.
3. Give a family gift.
If your list is long, stretch your budget and give something the whole family will love. Pick up a great family movie, microwave popcorn and candy, and you have a great family gift for around $25. Board games are another great option for the whole family.
4. Give children simplicity.
Crayons and coloring books are great gifts for around $5 that are perfect for nieces, nephews and friends of your children. Jump ropes, jacks, yo-yo’s, kites and Pick-Up-Sticks are inexpensive and will provide hours of fun.
5. Give ornaments.
Ornaments are perfect for sisters, friends and co-workers and cost less than $10 each. Recipients can enjoy this present year after year.
6. Give from your kitchen.
Baked goods are great for friends, neighbors and service people like your babysitter or mail carrier. Or pour hot cocoa mix or the measured ingredients for oatmeal cookies (minus any liquid or perishable items) into a mason jar, tie a ribbon and, voila, a yummy gift!
7. Give the gift of time.
Make coupons for almost anyone on your list. Popular ideas include a lunch date, babysitting, help with a project or uninterrupted phone time. These creative ideas are personal and let your loved ones know you care, but don’t cost any money up front – if at all.
8. Simplify the wrapping.
Buy plain gift boxes or paper bags from a craft store. Let the kids decorate them with markers or stickers. Create inexpensive nametags on cardstock or make snowflake tags out of coffee filters.
9. Repurpose old Christmas cards.
If you’ve saved old Christmas cards, you can repurpose them. Cut the front panel off the old card. Write your personalized message on the back with a calligraphy pen. Buy some inexpensive envelopes and stamps.
10. Stock up for next Christmas.
With all the money you saved from these ideas, you can stock up for next year. Christmas dcor, cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, boxes and tissue paper are marked down 50% or more the day after Christmas. By planning ahead, you won’t pay full price next year.
Enjoy your gift-giving this season!
Andrea Fortenberry’s days are full of merriment and messes as a wife and mom of two children, ages six and three. She writes and speaks on relationships, family and faith. Her recent work includes publication in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives. Connect with Andrea on her website, andreafortenberry.com. Or find her on Facebook and Twitter.