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How to Avoid Over-gifting and Save Money This Holiday Season

Child holding a box with an excess of holiday gifts

The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together, enjoy good food, and share gifts. However, all the talk of gifts and gift-giving can be overwhelming, especially when figuring out how much money to spend on each person. Sometimes we can get so caught up in finding the perfect present that we forget about the person we’re buying it for! With a little bit of planning and some savvy gift-buying tactics, though, you can give without hurting your wallet. Here is what over-gifting looks like, why it is not good for your finances (not just this holiday season), and how to avoid doing it yourself.



Over-gifting is a common problem many face during the holiday season. It is the act of giving too many gifts to others, often to show love and appreciation. This can lead to negative consequences for both the giver and the recipient.

One of the most common consequences is financial strain. Purchasing an excessive number of gifts can quickly deplete a person’s savings and even lead them into debt. This can create significant stress and anxiety for you. In addition, the recipient of over-gifted items may feel overwhelmed and unprepared to give back in a similar fashion, leading to negative feelings and relationships.

Another consequence of over-gifting is the potential for weight gain. The holiday season is often associated with an abundance of rich, sugary foods and treats. Stress and anxiety caused by giving can lead to excessive eating and weight gain. This can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being and lead to guilt and shame.

Remember that you don’t have to over-gift to show that you like or love someone! It’s just a way to be smart with your money because, like any other financial decision, giving gifts requires consideration and planning.



Making gifts for the holiday season can be a great way to avoid overspending and still give something thoughtful and unique to your loved ones. Instead of buying gifts from a store, you can create something with your own hands that will be appreciated and cherished by the recipient.

Not only is making gifts a more cost-effective option, but it can also be a fun and rewarding experience. You can gather your friends or family and make gifts, creating a sense of community and togetherness during the holiday season. Plus, you’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that you made something special for someone else.

In addition, handmade gifts are often more meaningful and personal than store-bought items. The recipient will know that you put time, effort, and thought into creating something just for them. Plus, you can tailor the offering to the recipient’s interests or needs, ensuring that they will use and enjoy it.



A budget is a crucial tool for avoiding overspending during the holiday season. If you’re struggling with a budget, consider how much money you would need to save to avoid debt or at least reduce it. Consider setting aside a specific monthly amount to reach this goal and use it as your holiday budget when December arrives. Keeping track of your annual spending can also help prevent overspending in December.

It’s a good idea to limit your spending on each gift and stick to it. If this sounds like something that would be difficult for you, then start by setting a maximum amount for your shopping trips (i.e., $200 per store) so that you only buy what was allocated for each trip.



Another great option is by starting a Holiday Club where $100 each month goes into an account specifically designated for holiday shopping at the end of every year—which makes it easier on everyone involved! You could even make this official by opening a particular savings account with your bank to keep track and ensure that there are always funds available in case something unexpected occurs during December!

Make sure your credit or debit card limits are high enough to avoid declined payments when shopping online or over the phone. Some stores offer gift cards as payment options; if this is an option at checkout, check if there are any fees associated with using them.


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Don’t worry about what other people are giving this year—it’s not worth stressing over! If there are more people than you have time or funds for, consider a gift-giving group where each person receives one gift (and everyone saves money!). This also allows for smaller gifts that can be personalized just for them.



You may not realize it, but you don’t need to find something completely new when plenty of the items in your home could be repurposed into something special for someone else. Something in great condition that you don’t need anymore might be the perfect gift for someone else! The same goes for wrapping paper and bows; most people won’t notice if they aren’t exactly matching colors. My wife and I keep a large selection of bags and boxes in our basement that either came from gifts we received or gifts we have already given. That way we know we’ll always have something on hand when we want to give a gift. As soon as the recipient has opened their gift, we ask for the bag or box back! It keeps trash out of the landfill and helps us reduce our spending on wrapping.



The best gifts are those that are both memorable and useful. You want to give someone something they’ll love to receive and use repeatedly, so think of gifts that can be used for multiple purposes. If your friend loves cooking, consider giving them a fun pair of kitchen tongs or a nice vegetable peeler. If they love cooking classes but don’t have much time off work during the holidays due to family obligations (like many people do), maybe give them an online cooking course instead! You could even make it into something fun by making dinner together with everyone at home while watching the video tutorials. These types of gifts have the potential to be remembered long after the holidays are over, as opposed to generic store-bought presents like socks and ties—which may soon find themselves collecting dust in the back of one’s closet!

During the holiday season, most people don’t want extravagant or expensive gifts, . Consider giving experiences instead, like tickets to an outdoor concert or other enjoyable activity. These experiences can be even better if they occur in a warm location where no one needs gloves or coats. You could even invite friends along to make it more fun for everyone!

When I’m giving gifts, I like to focus on people who will really like or appreciate them! For those that seem to take a more minimalist approach, I try to spend time with them instead of buying an expensive gift. You could also offer other forms of generosity, like taking care of their yard work during the holiday season. One year I replaced all the exterior light fixtures for my dad! This investment will provide emotional satisfaction and improve your financial health over time.

By the way, if you’re feeling discouraged about the environmental impact of the season, consider volunteering for organizations like Recycle Across America or the National Wildlife Federation.



The holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone. Be honest with yourself and others and consider their needs as well. Even if you’re not prone to over-gifting, it can be challenging to stick to your budget or avoid impulse buys when people are spending freely around you. But if you plan carefully and stick with your goals, there’s no reason this season should be any more stressful than any other one!

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About Oliver Ames

Oliver is VSECU's social media strategist and spends most of his day engaging with members through our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. He has a background in science education, non-profit fundraising, business communication, media production, and membership-based organizations. When not at work, Oliver spends much of his time with his wife and son at their home in Montpelier.
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