I woke up yesterday in the mood for hot chocolate and a fuzzy robe even though it was 80 degrees outside. And I started Christmas shopping. Yep, I’m in the holiday mood.
Sometimes the best traditions don’t have to cost anything but a bit of time…your gifts don’t have to break the bank either.
What this means is that I started my annual Christmas list – a list of everyone I know and what ideas I have for presents. I also write down what I end up getting each person and highlight the people I need to work on next. It’s a process.
I started this a few years ago when I realized that we are close with more than 40 people. A handful of them don’t enjoy the gift exchange thing, so they are even on my list with a note by them to remind me that they are covered by not being covered. Everyone else is a close friend or family member that I want to spoil a little.
A big part of my process is trying to find a good, yet inexpensive, present for those who I shop for. With 25-30 people to cover, I try to keep all gifts at $15 or less. $10 or less is the big win, but I do inch it higher when I find the perfect fit. Our main goal is to stay under the $500 mark for gifts for others each year.
Tips for Inexpensive but Awesome Gifts
I know that you will read a bunch about cutting back on holiday waste spending. I also know that Secret Santa’s and White Elephant Gift Exchanges kick butt and do keep costs low. I am not arguing that Christmas can’t be done without much money involved at all. Honestly, more power to you if you and your family and friends celebrate without the spending!
I, personally, still want to buy specific gifts for specific people. It is technically unnecessary, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the hunt. I enjoy finding that little thing that makes each person smile. Even when I’m stumped, I like the fact that I am spending brain energy on the important people in my life.
We, my group, spoil each other with time and food and whatnot year round, but Christmas is special to me. It gives me a real kick in the butt to think. It feels happier in general. And slower. I love the holidays.
If you are like me, here are some tips on spending less but still grabbing awesome gifts for others…
Food and Crafts
If you are an amazing baker, have a special recipe, or are handy with your hands, MAKE YOUR GIFTS FOR OTHERS! We non-craftsy people LOVE them! I know my roommate is making me a crazy quilt. I think it will KICK BUTT. One of my other friends is baking cookies for everyone – YUMMY! Last year, I got a mason jar of cookie mix and it made amazing cookies. COOL BEANS!
Homemade means love. Love is good. Never undervalue the awesomeness of homemade. Heck, I am spoiling a bunch of people on my list with food-by-me. I won’t tell you what since some of my friends and family read my blog, but I am making some yummy stuff! I bet they’ll all love it, because who doesn’t like yumminess?!
Inside Jokes / Funny Mannerisms
Inside jokes are the best fodder for ideas! Funny can be priceless.
My husband is one of those people that seems pretty blah around groups on a regular basis until he gets a wild hair and chatters away. I am a like-everyone-until-they-get-on-my-sh*t-list type of person. He’s a people-suck-unless-they-don’t kind of person. Last year, he got the coolest shirts ever from several of our friends. They all said “Meh” and nothing else. Different fonts, a couple of different themes, but “Meh” was the underlying factor. He LOVES those shirts and still wears them.
This year, I’m getting a t-shirt for one of my self-proclaimed klutzy friends (who doesn’t read my blog, lol). It says “I’m the Reason Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”. They had every size imaginable. It’s just too funny for that klutz you love or random child in your life. It was $10 on Think Geek.
Hobbies are the next best idea trees. My favorite t-shirt ever says “Careful or You’ll End Up On My Blog”. It was a birthday gift from Isabelle. I’ve worn it a ton for 4+ years now! It has been joined with “It’s a Blog” shirt that has a Blob motif and a t-shirt with a dachshund typing away on a laptop.
My husband is a varsity sports official and enjoys the little $5-$10 goofy gifts his family, friends, and I find for him. He truly enjoys his referee rubber ducky. He also like the different ref-themed gag gifts around the house like the one that yells ref stuff at you when you leave the bathroom (we only turn it on for game days), the stuffed ref that was made to be torn apart and put back together, and the ref-themed groom’s cake that his mom made for him for our wedding.
The best thing hobby-wise could be to simply provide more supplies for whatever may be used up doing what they love. An artist may need more paints, pencils, poster board, etc. A person who sews may need fabrics, better supplies, yarn, thread, a pin cushion that goes on their wrist, etc. A golfer always needs balls. A tennis player may appreciate some wrist wraps. There are all sorts of gifts for hobbies!
Things They Won’t Buy Themselves
I have some friends that won’t splurge on themselves, even for little stuff. I use Christmas to fill in a few of those blanks.
I have gotten a fantastic used sewing machine for Mandy for FREE from a great neighbor that answered my classified on Nextdoor.com. I am scouring Craigslist for cheap aquarium setups for my Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program since his mom was happy with the idea of me getting him a fish. I might go the Sea Monkey route instead though. Or a large bowl and a Beta. We’ll see…
Overall, gift ideas seem hard because we put a ton of pressure on ourselves usually. Don’t. Make it fun. Don’t overthink it. Aim for a smile or a giggle as opposed to the great shocker every time. Sure, you may go crazy on a specific person some day, but it doesn’t have to be for every birthday or Christmas. Don’t kill your budget for no true reason – your loved ones should already know that you love them. This is just little, physical reminders.
Have you started holiday shopping yet? What are your tips and tricks?