The joy of Christmas gift-giving can mean a debt hangover in the New Year. It doesn’t have to be that way — here are some tips to help you get into the Christmas spirit without getting into debt.
Australians are set to spend an average $464 on gifts according to Finder, for friends and family, which is fine if it’s within your budget. But if the holiday season has crept up on you, and finding spare cash is a challenge, here are our top five tips for how to save money on Christmas shopping:
1. Opt for DIY gifts
Homemade gifts are a wonderful way to show someone how much you care. They can be personal, like a photo album or a framed poem for a family member. Beautifully gift-wrapped home-baked cookies or hand-made truffles can be a thoughtful gift for the people who make a difference in your daily life, like teachers, neighbours and babysitters. You could also offer a ‘gift of service’ by sharing one of your skills, like cooking or decluttering a garage or attic for an elderly relative, or even taking someone on an adventure to one of their favourite local spots, or a place they’ve never been to before but always wanted to. Make your own gift vouchers, cards and wrapping paper in plain festive colours, so you can use any leftovers during the following year for birthdays and anniversaries etc.
2. Give the gift of your time
Another option is to give a ‘gift of service’ by sharing one of your skills, like cooking or decluttering a garage or attic for an elderly relative, or give the gift of your time by taking someone on an adventure to one of their favourite local spots, or a place they’ve never been to before but always wanted to visit. This allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones, instead of spending money.
3. Plan ahead
Pull together a plan of when you’ll shop or make gifts and what you think you’ll spend. Look at the total cost, not just the cost per person, and then readjust until you arrive at a figure you feel comfortable with. Set a time limit when you go shopping and make the most of extended opening hours so you don’t get distracted or make impulse purchases if you leave it until the last minute.
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4. Find the discounts
Lots of companies will offer discounts via their social media channels, eNewsletters and catalogues. Before you spend any money, do your research online to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Don’t forget to ask in person as well — many stores will have special promotions like a ‘free’ gift with purchase, or will offer discounts if you buy more than one item.
5. Stick to the kids
We all love giving gifts to kids, but there comes a time in every family when giving gifts to adults probably isn’t necessary anymore. Most busy adults value time with their loved ones over material possessions and receiving gifts, so why not skip the adults this year? Just make sure you check with everyone that they’re happy with that approach first and make it clear that you don’t expect any gifts from them either.
6. Be strategic with your gift list
If skipping all the adults on your list doesn’t feel right, then try to think strategically when it comes to your gift list. For example, if you’re buying for a married couple, instead of a present each, think about getting them one gift for their home that they’ll both enjoy. Or when buying for children living in the same house, consider giving one present that can be shared, like a board game, instead of individual presents.
7. Suggest a Secret Santa
Not just for the office anymore, a Secret Santa for your family or friends is a great way to keep the fun spirit of gift-giving alive this Christmas without having to spend a fortune. Not only can you can set a spend limit that everyone is comfortable with, but you only have to buy for one person, which means you can make the most of your budget and get something they’ll really enjoy.
8. Agree on a spending limit
Whether you’re buying for kids or adults, your significant other or your best friend, everyone benefits from having a clear spending limit – after all, chances are you’re not the only one trying to keep a handle on costs this December. Planning a Christmas budget means you can enjoy giving gifts without worrying that some people may miss out, or that the cost of buying presents will hurt you financially.
No matter what tactic you use to save money this Christmas, remember that the holiday season is all about getting together with loved ones to show you care about each other. As your mum used to say, it really is the thought that counts.