The countdown to the holidays is on! 'Tis the season for spreading good cheer, and for many people that includes exchanging gifts with friends and family.
Gifts are a special way to show appreciation for loved ones. But without a gift-giving plan, the most festive time of year can quickly become the most expensive! Keep more money in your pocket with these helpful tips and tricks for gift-giving on a budget:
#1: Start shopping early
Last-minute shopping is the biggest reasons for holiday overspending. The pressure to find a perfect gift in limited time can lead you to spend more than you originally planned!
As soon as you have a gift list and holiday budget in place, start your gift shopping, whether it's online or in-store. Getting a head start will give you plenty of time to research products, compare prices and take advantage of pre-holiday deals and discounts.
#2: Plan a gift swap
How long is your gift-giving list? Between family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, teachers and coaches, it can add up fast!
One way to trim your list — and your expenses — is to hold a gift swap. Here are a few ideas, besides traditional exchanges like White Elephant or Secret Santa:
- Host a dessert swap. Ask guests to bring a few dozen of their favorite treats to share with others. Yum!
- Play “musical gifts." Have everyone bring a gift, then pass around the packages in a circle while a holiday song is played. When the music stops, the gift you're holding is the gift you get to keep!
- Choose a theme. How about an exchange of all board games, books, t-shirts or locally-made products?
Gift exchanges work best when everyone is on the same page. Setting some ground rules upfront will ensure everyone receives a gift within the same price limit! #3: Think outside the gift box
Another way to stretch your holiday budget is to give handmade presents. You don't have to be an artist to create a thoughtful, creative gift!#4: Save on wrapping supplies
Try one of these easy and affordable DIY gifts:
- Write a handwritten card. A sweet, personal message always warms the heart, plus, it doesn't cost a thing!
- Bake holiday treats from scratch. Include the recipe as a bonus gift!
- Put together a themed basket. One easy idea is a basket filled with assorted coffee, tea or hot cocoa mix and a mug. For a relaxing gift, make an at-home spa kit with items like scented bath salts, lotion and slippers. Or, how about a movie-night basket that includes popcorn, candy and a DVD? The possibilities are endless!
Wrapping paper, bags, boxes, bows, tissue paper, tape and cards can all be sneaky budget-busters during the holidays! But with a little planning and creativity, you can save time and money on these supplies.#5: Shop after the holidays
Here are a few savvy wrapping tricks:
- Reuse gift bags, boxes and tissue paper instead of throwing them away. You can often get multiple uses out of these supplies!
- Wrap presents with repurposed materials from around the home, like newspaper comics, scrap fabric or paper bags. You can even get the kids involved by asking them to color or paint plain wrapping paper.
- Use plain bags or boxes instead of holiday-themed supplies. Add a festive touch with a holiday stamp, sticker or even a recycled holiday card!
After the holidays, many stores will offer even bigger sales as they try to clear out their holiday inventory. If you can wait to exchange gifts in the days after the holidays, you might be able to score some great deals!
Other than gifts, you can often find deeply discounted decorations and wrapping supplies in the days after the holidays. You'll save money now and be ready to deck the halls next year!
Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU) has the financial tools and resources to help you save money and prepare for a happy, stress-free holiday season. Explore our online Education Center to find budgeting worksheets, helpful videos and short, interactive learning modules.
What are your favorite tips for saving money during the holidays? Share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Have a happy holiday season!