Gift-Giving on a Budget

handmadeAs the holiday season nears, shoppers will want to think about gift buying. On a limited budget, it can be agonizing to stretch your money yet still give something meaningful. Do you cross someone off the list? Overspend so no one gets left out? Here are a few tips on how to spread cheer without going into the red.

Make a list.

Who’s on your list, how much is your budget, and how much do you plan to spend for each person? Or wait—are you even planning to exchange things?

Level with them.

Talk to your friends and family well in advance and mention your budget situation. Suggest drawing names with the whole family or group of friends, setting a spending limit, or having a group experience that places meaning on togetherness over giving stuff.

Take stock.

What are your talents, and what materials do you have on hand? How much time do you have? A homemade gift is personal, tells them that you care, and can be inexpensive or free. Knit a scarf, make personalized dishes, a mix CD of favorite songs (real or virtual), or bake some treats. Or consult Pinterest or DIY Network for loads of DIY ideas that don’t require loads of talent. Mine some photos from their Instagram and give them some wall art of their own making. Buy a used copy of your favorite book and make them a set of bookplates.

 Give an experience or a favor.

Offering to lend a hand is a worthwhile gift. Help your loved ones ready their house for holiday guests, babysit while they shop, give them a backrub, make dinner or do their least-favorite chore. Offer to teach them something that you are good at—baking bread, making YouTube videos, playing ukulele. Present them with a simple stack of coupons, or a card.

Charitable donations.

Being on a strict budget doesn’t rule out giving to those who are less fortunate. Cash is not the only way to help out others. You could also donate clothing, bikes, phones, glasses or household items, or volunteer your time and talents to an organization that could use them.

Keep in mind that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, and you don’t need to drain your savings to make others happy.

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