Smart Holiday Gift Giving

Who doesn’t love to be a bighearted Santa at this time of year? Giving nice gifts to your friends and family feels even better than getting gifts (well, most of the time). But equating big hearts with big spending is where we often go wrong.

So how much should you spend on gifts? We can’t give you a specific dollar amount because every budget is unique. However, the average amount spent last year on gifts was $800, and with an average household income of $50,000 you could adjust your spending to your income. But that doesn’t mean that is the correct amount for you. The best plan to is to understand your budget and what you can afford. And, most importantly, stick to your budget.

Here are some ideas to help you rein in your holiday spending.

Make a list and check it twice

Remembering at the last minute that you forgot a gift for Aunt Sue or your boss is a surefire way to bust your budget. Make a list of everyone you want to buy a present for and then make sure you include that gift in your budget.

Buy in advance

You know you won’t find the best deals the week before Christmas, so keep your eyes open for deals year-round. The earlier you start, the more money you’ll save because you won’t be in a rush and you’ll be able to take advantage of sales. And don’t forget wrapping paper. Buy after the holiday and sock it away. Plus, if you’ve done most of your shopping early, you’ll be able to enjoy the season more.

Make ordinary things “presents”

Save up some of the things you would buy for family anyway and put them under the tree. This might include items that are replaced frequently like batteries and shoes, or winter clothing that you might not need at the start of the season. Opening the gift is half the fun no matter what’s inside.

Wrap “family gifts” to add to kids’ presents

The annual family membership to the science museum or zoo, movie or restaurant gift cards, or even homemade coupons for a “Father/Daughter Evening” are expenses you incur throughout the year but are more fun to unwrap as a present Christmas morning.

Cut out the adults

You’re probably not the only one you know who is stressed about finding the perfect gift and, of course, being able to afford it. Sometimes if you’ve been giving presents to each other for years, a little gift-giving hiatus is the perfect gift.

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