There is always a temptation to over spend during the holidays. In light
of the current economic situation it is more important than ever to
avoid getting deeper in to debt in order to satisfy gift-giving
obligations. Don't despair. Salary.com has put together a few ideas to
help you shift your focus and have a happy holiday season.
Develop a plan
Decide ahead of time how much you
can afford to spend and on whom you plan to spend it. By looking at your
entire planned gift giving at once, you'll make better decisions once
you get into the thick of holiday shopping. Once you have a list of
everyone you need to buy something for, make a list of gift ideas you
might get each person. Then calculate the total anticipated cost and
adjust as necessary. This will help to eliminate last-minute impulse
buying. Make a budget and a list – and stick to it!
Do your research
Save time and money by researching
prices online before you go to the store. There are lots of sales out
there, so look before you buy to get the best deal. If you are shopping
online, search the internet for coupon codes and don't forget the
bargain bins. There are many sites that offer online coupons to help you
get the lowest price on the items you are looking for. Order early to
avoid paying for priority or express shipping to get there on time. Most
online retailers have a special holiday shipping policy, so be sure to
read it and plan accordingly.
Take Advantage of Retailer Discounts
Many companies count on the fourth
quarter to bring in revenue and profits for the year. However,
retailers will be doing their best to offer the lowest prices in order
to compete for the significantly lower amount of cash that will likely
be spent on the holiday's this year. In fact, many retailers are already
offering deep discounts to encourage hesitant consumers to buy. Many
companies know this will hurt margins, but are willing to take a hit to
entice buyers and initiate sales.
Consider creative sources for gifts
Shop beyond the mall and look to
new places to purchase gifts that you may not have considered in the
past. Check out garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores and flea
markets. It's not uncommon to find new or 'like new' items at a
reasonable price. Also consider giving small, local, owner-operated
establishments a try. They offer unique gifts often made by local
artisans that can make your gift a unique "stand-out".
Home made items
You don't have to be the most
creative person on the planet to come up with a nice home crafted gift.
And with inexpensive packaging, you can actually create something
memorable and thoughtful.
Baked goods and handmade items make
wonderful gifts. Consider placing the dry ingredients for a cookie or
cake mix in a decorative jar and attach an attractive recipe card with
Apply the same idea to hand-made soaps,
candles or potpourri mixture. Candle and soap-making kits are available
at most craft stores at a reasonable price.
Scour through your
archive of photographs and pull together a personalized album featuring
shots of the recipient through the years.
Give your favorite things this holiday season
These items don't necessarily have
to be expensive, just things you personally enjoy using. Pull together
items in a modest yet festive basket or gift bag. Items to include can
be as basic as favorite breath mint, gum, candy, soap, lotion, nail
file, socks, slippers, lip balm, thermal mug – you name it. By giving
inexpensive items that you love and use everyday, not only will the gift
be more meaningful, but the recipient will think of you every time he
or she uses the gift(s).
'Yankee swap' or gift exchange
Focus most of your gift-giving
expenditure on the kids in your life and consider setting up a gift
exchange for adults. Each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift
and places it in a designated area. Guests are assigned a number or
their names are randomly drawn. Then they select and un-wrap gifts from
the pile in the pre-determined order. Set a dollar limit and choose a
theme to make it more interesting. This idea is easy on the wallet and
focuses the attention on being together rather than the gifts
Go Green- with your gift giving this holiday
If you are looking for ways to
feel good about yourself this holiday season, consider going green. Look
for fair trade certified products like coffee, tea, chocolate and
cotton. Buy directly from producers like local artisans, farmers and
other producers. Also look for products made by workers co-ops or by
Be honest about your financial situation
The current economy is challenging
for everyone. If your budget is extremely tight this year, you need to
shorten your shopping list. Don’t hesitate to communicate your situation
to those you usually exchange gifts with. You may even consider talking
to some friends and/or family members in advance and agree that you
won’t exchange gifts with them. Instead you might propose an outing to
do something you each enjoy like a hike, a stroll though your local town
center to see the holiday lights or share a modest holiday potluck meal
Rediscover the meaning of the Holidays
The holiday season is a time for
families and their extended family of friends to come together. Don’t
let financial problems take away the importance of being together.
Instead of focusing on the material aspects of the season, invest time
in reconnecting with one another. Play a board game around the dining
room table, prepare a meal together, or play some ball in the backyard
or at the local park.