Every year no matter how hard we try to deny it, Christmas is usually a strain on our wallets. Sometimes, it’s a prodigious one. Depending upon the size of your family, friends, pets, distant relatives, in-laws, co-workers, neighbors, friends of friends, friends of relatives, and everyone else in-between, that list of one gift per person for $25 can add up to thousands. It never seems to matter how much we make – the amounts are always relative. We tend to overextend ourselves well beyond our means during this time of year. In 2015, Americans plan to spend an average of $830 on Christmas Gifts, according to a study conducted by Gallup Poll. Now, this is not to say that we should not be excited to spend money on gifts for others. Or that we should look for people on the list to cut out completely because they don’t fit the bill. For a lot of us this is the one time we do decide to “go crazy” and find our spirit of giving to others. Christmas has done an exceptional job of helping all of us dedicate a timeline to giving and thinking about everyone we care about and to celebrate that. Let’s just do it smarter.
Ideas for Little to No Money
- Home-Made Baking – Baking is a notoriously popular during the holidays and can be done on a relatively cheap budget. I also don’t know anyone that doesn’t light up when they receive some free baked goods. Especially when they are home-made.
- Hand Written Christmas Cards – Though, the first Christmas cards were commissioned in London by Sir Henry Cole in May of 1843 – the first “Official” Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in that same decade. Christmas cards have grown in popularity over the last century pilling up over 1.5 billion cards every year in the United States alone, according to The Greeting Card Association. Use the gesture of handwriting them and give them a personal touch. The time and thoughtfulness that will be put into them will surely yield a smile.
- Crafts – Think of ways to make smaller priced items have more detail. You don’t even have to be hands on crafty for some unique ways to make simple gifts have extensive meaning. For the beer lovers, instead of a twelve pack, turn a simple six pack into a box of six reindeer with eyes and some brown wire horns. Build a gift basket out of small knickknacks that have person touch. You’d be surprised – taking small things that your recipients enjoys on a daily basis, and crafting them into a bag filled with little things they enjoy can be acutely moving.
- Build a Healthy Cookbook – Not everyone cooks, granted. However, most everyone does eat at home on occasion and when they do they are likely open to try a few new recipes for the upcoming year. Furthermore, the growing popularity for healthy eating has reached historical heights. A study conducted by the Organic Consumers Association found 79% of the consumers surveyed were concerned about the safety of their food and 71% said the idea of organic food is “appealing.” I firmly believe most on your list will appreciate the gesture of some organic recipes to fend from. Share some of your own recipes or search for some fun ideas online.
- Volunteer Your Time vs Money – This simple concept is one of my personal favorites and can be construed as one of the most moving gifts of its kind. Contrary to sending a check – volunteer your time. This adage also applies to charities and volunteer organizations. Most charities are happy to take donations but volunteering your time, energy, and ideas can change the shape of an organization and touch the lives of many. That’s a mighty good feeling for something that is completely free.
Adopting just a few of these ideas will help you save money through the holidays without compromising your gift ideas but ultimately, saving money comes down to your habits and your dedication to thinking more strategically about what we spend. It can be increasingly difficult during the holidays but if we do it right, we may be able to save money, help our financial situation, and change the lives around us for the better. That’s a pretty sweet Christmas gift for us all, if you ask me.