Gifts can make the holidays fun, but it can also be a big chore. Thinking outside the box for gifts will allow you to rein in expenses as well as make it easy to give.
Make A List (Check It Twice!)
The first thing you need to do is make a list of gifts you will give. If you did the Budget, you will have a good start on this.
Look at your list. Is there anyone on there that may be open to not exchanging gifts? Or perhaps do gift-giving a different way? Some families draw names so that each person is responsible for only one gift. Other families (like mine) did away with gifts for adults entirely.
Next, think about what you would like to give. I personally feel that commercial gifts lack warmth. I prefer to give experiences or consumables. Of course, my nephews wouldn’t be very happy if I sent them a box of cookies! So in some cases, a bought present is great. But in that case, I always ask what the recipient would like.
For some alternate ideas, think about kitchen mixes, coupon books, memberships, tickets, craft supplies or home-baked goodies. Our bus driver will get a Starbucks gift card and a tin of homemade cookies. My coworkers will get homemade candy. I am asking my daughter for a coupon book of services.
Once you have decided how you will approach each gift, get moving!
Buying A Gift
For each person you are buying for, start researching where you will buy. I love Amazon at the holidays because they will ship directly to the person, and they have a wider selection of toys than our local stores. I follow the general checklist:
- Purchase the item.
- Wrap the item.
- Mail the item.
To simplify this, make sure you are buying something the recipient wants, saving you any returns. Use gift bags to simplify wrapping. And mailing items is a snap in the US with Click-N-Ship®, postage you print at home. You can then schedule the mail carrier to pick up the boxes using Carrier Pickup.
The trick to making gifts is to start soon enough that you have time. Last year I made a whole set of clothes for my daughter’s stuffed animals. This wouldn’t be possible this year, since I am back to work. When you make items, estimate out how long it will take to complete, including any time that the item must sit (for drying, blocking, etc). To make items, follow this general checklist:
- Gather pattern or instructions
- Make list of needed materials
- Purchase materials
- Make item
- Wrap item
- Mail item
To simplify this process, consolidate shopping trips for purchasing materials, and work on the the items whenever possible. I usually have a knitting bag with me at all times during the holidays.
With a bit of creative thinking and some up-front planning, gift giving can be easy and happy.
Photo by topher76