THINK THROUGH GIFTSMake a master list of gifts you need to buy or make along with a budget for the amount you want to spend. Stick to your budget and don't buy impulsively. Don't compete with family and friends - spend what you can afford.
Remember those gifts for teachers, Sunday School teachers, extra-curricular instructors, and stocking stuffers.
Buy the same gift for several people on your list, if appropriate. Take advantage of the sales after Christmas to shop for next year's list.
Plan your shopping trips. What stores might have most of your gifts? What is the most efficient route to the stores on your list? A little planning avoids backtracking, saving you time and gas.
Set a deadline for finishing your shopping to avoid crowds, the last-minute rush, and poor selection.
Consider gift certificates that can be sent to the recipients via email. Or shop online and have your purchases sent directly to the recipients.
Or, if you're into making your own Christmas gifts, mass produce a gift and give it to as many people on your list as possible. To reduce stress, choose a gift that doesn't have to made at the last minute.
As you buy or make gifts, wrap them so you don't have a massive pile to do at one time. Use TV time or other mindless time to wrap - you're doubling your time use.Have a conversation with your children (if applicable) about realistic expectations so they won't be disappointed. They will be bombarded with commercial after commercial during the holiday season, and they may want it all!
Make gift suggestions to relatives who are shopping for your children (if applicable).
If you want to get away from expensive or excessive gifts, consider alternative ideas:
- Trade services: babysitting, cleaning, meal preparing, handyman work, etc.
- Instead of exchanging gifts, experience an event together - a day trip, cutting your own Christmas tree, a service project, etc.
- Take the money you would have spent on gifts for each other and donate it to a cause or your favoriate charity or a needy family.
- Consider giving a donation in their name to a charity of their choice. My parents live in Oklahoma and year of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, they asked us to donate to The Salvation Army in their names rather than give them gifts. Salvation Army was so instrumental in helping in the aftermath, they wanted to say thanks.
- Consider drawing names or doing a "nice" white elephant game with a dollar limit on the gift.
- Give gift certificates of your time or service.