Holidays on a Shoestring Budget: How to Give Great Gifts Without Breaking the Bank

Holiday BudgetDuring the holidays, it’s natural to want to give your loved ones the perfect gift…yet doing so may leave your wallet considerably lighter. Not to mention, trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday list can be time-consuming and frustrating. Unfortunately for some, holiday shopping means maxed out credit cards—which is a stressful way to start off the New Year.

But the holiday season doesn’t have to be a time to go into debt or to overstretch your means. Take advantage of these easy, low-cost ways to spread the holiday cheer without running up your credit lines:

Use your talents. Take an inventory of your basic talents and skills to see which ones you could put to use to create holiday gifts. Most people appreciate a gift that someone put time and effort into and personally made for them. With an investment of just a few dollars for ingredients or materials and some basic skills, you could:

  • Bake some holiday treats and decorate them just for the recipient.
  • Knit or crochet a scarf, mittens, or a hat—or a blanket for your friend’s pet!
  • Scrapbook an album of special photos, or craft a beautiful greeting card.
  • Paint or draw a picture the recipient can display in their home.
  • Complete household repairs for someone.

Use your imagination, and get creative! The beauty of using your talents is that you can customize your gifts especially for your loved ones.

Give the gift of your time. Another easy way to manage your holiday budget is to give the gift of time. Offer to do a specific chore for someone in place of a store-bought gift. Some ideas could be:

  • Make a home-cooked meal.
  • Do a week’s worth of laundry.
  • Clean their house.
  • Wash their car.
  • Do an afternoon of yard work.
  • Babysit their kids.
  • Walk their dogs.

Remember, you can tailor the offer to the gift recipients needs, and if you know them well, you should have a pretty good idea of what offer would be most appreciated.

Get your family involved. Consider discussing cost-saving strategies with family members, such as:

  • Setting a spending limit on individual gifts.
  • Doing a gift exchange where you each draw a name out of a hat, instead of exchanging individual gifts with each family member.
  • Going in together on a family gift, like a family vacation or a season pass to an amusement park or zoo.

When your whole family can agree on basic gift-giving guidelines, you can save money and ensure your family is on the same page, so everyone can enjoy a happy, stress-free holiday!

Have more ideas? Share your tips for staying on budget during the holidays!