Christmas is fast approaching! There are, as of today, 70 days until The Big Day.
If your family celebrates Christmas, it can be a testing time for your finances. Even with a relatively small family, it is amazing how quickly the cost of gifts can mount up. Throw in buying for friends, distant relatives, distant cousins 18 times removed, and you quickly end up potentially spending hundreds upon hundreds of pounds.
If you have not begun preparing for the cost of this, it inevitably ends up being charged on your flexible friend.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Even if you cannot get away with token presents, you do not have to spend the earth on giving to others. Some of the best presents can be the cheapest, and this Frugal Friday explores some of the options available to those of us who want to give thoughtful, meaningful gifts at Christmas without having to take out a second mortgage to achieve it.
8 Christmas Gift Ideas
… That won’t break the piggy bank.
Buying for some people can be a nightmare – take my step-father as an example. The man has everything he wants or needs in life, so what do you buy someone in that position? Find their weakness.
His weakness is model trains; the loft space of their home is entirely devoted to his railroad tracks. To save buying him something he doesn’t want or need, the best gift for him is a gift certificate from our local model railway shop. That way he can buy what he needs for his next expansion plan – and not have to exchange any money to do so.
Be careful though: Some gift certificates/cards expire if not used in a certain period. If the business you buy them from goes bust, you also have little to no comeback.
Amazon Wish Lists
A lot of people in my family have Amazon wish lists. If you want to be certain of buying them a gift they will appreciate and they live some distance away, have a browse through their wish list. You can likely find a reasonably cheap “Want” that can be fulfilled, and it’ll still be extremely meaningful to them to know it came from you. Amazon will even wrap it and ship it for you!
To get started, head on over to your local Amazon and click “Gifts & Wish Lists” or similar. You can then search for Wish Lists by name or email address. This may get you to their list without them even realising you have something off of their list in mind. Perfect!
If anyone wants to buy me something for Christmas, you can find mine here
I love candles, and if you shop around, you can find some brilliant scents for very little. A few years ago I bought my wife a “Europe Candle Collection” that had scents of different European cities. They smelled divine when burned, but also looked amazing as well.
The price? £15 for 10.
Almost everyone enjoys a good book, and if you cannot find anything on their Wish List, ask someone close to them for ideas. The danger is buying them a book they already have, so some collaboration is required. If you know the person really well then this becomes less of an issue – buying something they will really enjoy but that might be outside their usual own-purchase window.
Failing that, you can always fall back to a gift certificate from Amazon or their local book store.
A LoveFilm Membership
If their thing is more along the lines of good movies, then a LoveFilm (or other online DVD subscription service) is a brilliant gift. They can load it up with the movies they want, and watch them without paying a penny. This is much better value (for you and them!) than buying ‘a DVD’ or ‘a boxset’.
Home Made Cookies
If you are a whiz in the kitchen, some home-made goodies will go down a treat. For the sake of the cost of the ingredients involved, you can make someone smile from ear to ear for literally pennies.
Receiving such gifts, knowing the loving care that went into making them, makes the cost irrelevant to the receiver.
For the amount of coffee you usually get in these, they are hellishly expensive – but we are really talking about a whole gift for under £10 here. If the person you are buying for is rarely without a mug of coffee in their hand, this gift will be perfect.
Male or female, adult, child or somewhere in between – there is always the need for socks and underpants. Ordinarily I am a ‘utility’ kind of purchaser in this department. When someone buys me some expensive stuff for Christmas, I really am thankful. They feel good, look good, and last so much longer.
You will still spend out less than £10.
There are loads of resources on the internet for further ideas – try searching Google for “Frugal Christmas Gifts” to end up in a sea of suggestions. You cannot escape the fact your son may want a Playstation 3 this year, but by saving money on other gifts, you might just be able to make that happen without resorting to charging your credit card or suffering in other areas of the budget.
Next year, start budgeting for Christmas gifts in January. If you already do this then fabulous! If not, budget it in. If you allow £25 in your budget for gifts, come December you will have £300 to spend on gifts for your loved ones, rather than ending up in a blind panic on December 10th wondering what to buy and how to pay for it.
Every Friday I publish “Frugal Friday!“, an open-ended series with some of the simple and best ways to really save you money both now and in the future.