Gift-giving is a huge cultural value. And whether or not you want to participate, usually you have to. Over the past few years the following strategy has been very rewarding in both identifying great gifts for family and friends and keeping our expenses low. Read on for how to make a holiday budget for gifts so that you can enjoy the year instead of feeling stressed:
Divide your special people into groups and into partners
First, I make very generic groups of folks who I plan to gift this year. For me, it looks like the following:
- Immediate family members
- Extended family members
- Close friends
Another trick I have is to gift by couple. So far I haven’t had any complaints, and it makes it easy to affirm the relationships in your life and offer couple-themed gifts.
Decide your cost
Once you have groups of people you are shopping for, decide on a price point.
For example, JHubbs and I aim for $25 per couple in our immediate family and $10 per close friend or friend couple, with holiday cards going out to extended family members, friends, and coworkers. The gifts we find (and make) may come in above or below those points, but that is what we aim for to make the numbers work.
Brainstorm and make lists
Once the technical stuff is taken care of, the fun brainstorming can begin! For each couple, I try to imagine what is going on in their lives and what would help them or acknowledge their challenges. For example, if one couple is still in school, a backpack filled with candy, pencils, and desk supplies could easily come in under $25 if you shop your sales. A couple who is getting married might enjoy a movie night present with one DVD (with receipt in case they already own it), poppable popcorn and one or two movie theater sized candies. Get the idea?
While a gift card is an easy out and isn’t something to be ashamed of, the first choice should always be personalized, useful gifts. Here are a few more couple-themed gifts that could meet that $25 goal:
- Movie night: A DVD, two movie theater candy packs, a two liter of soda, and popcorn.
- School survival kit: Fun backpack or satchel with candy, pencils, notebooks, paper, and pens.
- Winter Cuddle-Fest: Two matching mugs with a packet of cocoa inside and a copy of your favorite book
- Adventure Action Team: An athletic knapsack with sunscreen, lip balm, tennis balls (or other sporting equipment) and a disposable camera
- New to the City: A homemade trifold with facts and date ideas around the new city with a $10 and a $15 gift card to something fun
- New baby: If you’re local, a hand-drawn coupon for a few hours of free babysitting. If you aren’t, a “baby quiet time” pack with some fun toys, books, and a bottle of wine for the parents.