The holiday season is fast approaching. After you’ve made your list and checked it twice like a proverbial Santa Claus, the next step is to purchase gifts. The crafty folk among us may be able to make personalized handmade presents, but even supplies cost money. Other than clipping coupons, there are several creative ways that you can save money while doing your holiday shopping.
1. CREATE A GIFT CLOSET.
Traditionally gift closets are filled with items given to you that don’t suit your tastes, but can serve multiple purposes, such as storing emergency gifts and gift-wrapping materials. Collect items throughout the year that could be used to create gift baskets, such as mugs, hard candies, candles, gift cards, or other household items. Make sure you have a few baskets in your closet ready to put your gifts in. Before you start your holiday shopping, check out your gift closet to see what you already have that can be given to family and friends.
2. USE CREDIT CARD REWARDS POINTS.
Many people use credit cards for daily purchases in order to rack up reward points. Points saved throughout the year can be redeemed during the holiday season to buy gifts. Many credit cards allow you to purchase gift cards to restaurants or select stores, simplifying the buying process if you’re unsure what to pick out for someone.
If you do use your credit card to earn reward points, plan on paying your credit card bill in full each month to avoid paying interest, which saves you money and could help increase your holiday spending budget.
3. MOVE THE HOLIDAY.
This might sound crazy to some, but you can move a holiday to a different date. If it’s difficult coordinating time off with work or family schedules, arrange a time to celebrate the holiday that works for everyone. Consider a date after January 1 when in-store and online sales have begun, which allows everyone to take advantage of discounts. This has the indirect benefit of allowing you to stretch your dollar further and effectively increasing your budget.
4. GIFT EVERYONE THE SAME THING.
Buying the same gift for everyone, from grandma to your best friend, reduces time spent searching for the perfect, unique gift for each and every person on your list. Purchasing the same gift for everyone can also help with budgeting, making it easy to spend a set amount on each person. Magazine subscriptions, gift cards, or coffee mugs filled with chocolates can be universal gifts that everyone on your list can enjoy.
Universal gifts can be thoughtful and meaningful, too. For example, if you’re passionate about the environment, you can give everyone on your list a travel mug and re-usable silicone straw. Let your personality shine through in your gift choice.
If you like the idea of a universal gift but want more variety, create a gift theme. Perhaps you give everyone their favorite candy or each a unique pair of socks. This will help each gift feel more personalized.
5. SHARE HOMEMADE HOLIDAY FOOD.
The holiday season can be more enjoyable when shared with family and loved ones. Instead of spending money on gifts, consider creating a beautiful meal to share, allowing time to bond and create memories. To involve everyone you invite, organize a potluck where everyone brings their favorite dish. In addition to planning a dinner, the holidays can be a fun time to make baked goods. Gift everyone on your list cookies or other favorite homemade treats.
6. MAKE A CHARITABLE DONATION.
The holidays are a good time to think of others and give back to the community. For those you can’t think of a gift for, consider a charitable donation on their behalf to a favorite charity. Ask gift recipients if they would like to volunteer with you at a local charity. If you’re unable to volunteer, ask for help collecting items that can be given to a local homeless shelter or food shelf. Make the volunteer process a shared experience.
Everyone has different ways of celebrating the holidays, and everyone will have a different way of saving money around the holidays as well. Choose an option (or two!) that works for you and helps you celebrate the season with family and friends in your own way.
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