How to Be Festively Frugal and Still Afford All the Usual Christmas Gifts

Traditionally, the festive season is a time for giving but the reality is that many of us simply cannot afford what we may have had in previous years. The recession has certainly changed the manner in which we approach the festive season rush, and has definitely changed our behavior when purchasing gifts.

A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it is easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown

It is not the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it. ~Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Here is a list of clever ways to not break the bank this festive season that will allow you to budget effectively but still spoil your nearest and dearest, albeit with a careful grip on the purse strings!

1. Draw Names – If you have always bought individual gifts for your extended family, consider drawing names instead. Put all their names in a jar and each person pulls one and buys or makes a gift for that person. Some families even have the children do this within the immediate family. It is a great way to do Christmas on a shoestring budget.

2. Give a Family Gift – Rather than purchasing individual gifts, purchase one gift for the entire family. Board games, photo books or family journals are great choices.

3. Make Homemade Gifts – Now, now! Homemade does not have to mean strange looking pottery or inedible homemade culinary ‘delights’! Search on line for craft ideas that involve supplies you already have around the house. Photo albums are always appreciated by grandmas and grandpas while tasty baked treats are received with delight by neighbors and friends!

4. Gift Certificates for real life – If you want to survive with your wallet intact during the Festive Season, do not buy expensive store-bought gift certificates. Instead, make your own. Print your own certificate from you or the kids for a free car wash or a ticket for planting the garden in the spring. The recipient/s will enjoy those so much more than a purchased gift that would probably just end up sitting at the back of a closet.

5. Swap Toys – If you are worried about getting toys for the children, but cannot afford the prices during the Festive Season, consider swapping toys with neighbors. As long as the kids do not live right next door to each other, no one will be the wiser.

6. Shop Second-hand – With careful shopping, you can find brand new clothing for a fraction of the cost you would pay in a department store.

7. Do not shop for yourself – All the special offers around at this time of year make it easy to adopt a one for me, one for you mentality. Set a rule that you will only shop for the people on your list – not yourself! The payoff: Less clutter in your home and more money in the bank!

8. The gift of your time – This is the thing that many people most want, even though you cannot technically wrap it up and put it under the tree. Consider spending time with those you love, as a gift for them this Christmas. Not only will it help your pocketbook survive the Festive Season but it will also strengthen the love you feel for each other.

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