10 Ways to Save Money on Gifts This Holiday Season

By Toni Garcia, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Allendale-Hudsonville-Zeeland, MI November 29, 2017

Every year parents around the world plan, save, and budget for their holiday shopping. Let's face it: the holiday's aren't cheap. It's months of constant spending — whether you are buying Halloween candy and costumes, Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas gifts.

So what can you do to save this holiday season? 

1. Start saving early. Cutting back on little things like latte runs and chai teas can have a big impact on your bottom line. For example, if you spend $5.50 on a spiced latte and $2.50 on the blueberry muffin three times per week throughout December, that’s $156 you’ve spent on drinks and muffins. That money could have paid for a few Christmas gifts, enough gas to get to Aunt Martha's house, or a generous donation to the charity of your choice. 

2. Make a plan. There's no need to buy Aunt Martha that cashmere sweater just because it's on sale. Take some time to make a list of necessary gifts, starting with your children and spouse. 

3. Set a limit. It's easy to overspend, especially on little extras. Try to focus your gifts on kits and sets rather than things that require multiple purchases to complete. Set a limit and if it's over that, adjust your budget if it's a priority or simply pass and find something else. Remember, the recipient had no idea you were thinking of buying that for them anyway.

4. Try to use cash only when shopping offline. For some of us, having a card in hand makes the spending seem so much easier. If this you, beware of the plastic. Try to shop with cash only while you're out and about. Once it's gone, it's gone. 

5. Know when to say "No." This time of year we're bombarded with white elephants, gift exchanges, boss' presents, and so much more. Know when to say no. If you don't want to buy something random for the lady in the cubicle down the hall, don't. Save your $20 and add it to your list of gifts that "really matter," or make a donation to a local charity, or find a gifting tree for kids in your area.

6. Shop smart. If there's one thing that consumers can count on every single year, it's sales. Take some time to plan out your shopping based on the best deals and practical purchases. If your daughter needs new sheets and pillowcases, find a sale on an entire bed set and pair it with some nice curtains and cute wall decor. Two gifts in one, and both practical. 

7. Handmade is heartfelt. Yeah, I know... but still, there's something special about seeing those gifts on Aunt Martha's mantel from when you were a kid. Why stop the tradition? Your kids don't need to purchase anything for anyone. Take an afternoon, stock up on some craft supplies, and get busy! Popsicle frames, ornaments, photo wreaths and more... the possibilities are endless. 

8. Embrace the magic of the potluck. People, there is no need for Aunt Martha to cook everything. Everyone can save a little extra this year by pitching in and bringing a side dish or dessert for your family gatherings. Or, to make it even more fun, replace the gift exchange with a dessert exchange and knock out two things at once!

9. Replace gifts with donations. If you make charitable donations at any time throughout the year, you know how great it feels to see that others also support and believe in that cause too. This year, go through the social media profiles of your family members to find out more about their interests and what they already support. Make a donation in their name and present the "gift" to them in a nice holiday card with something small like a picture of a positive affirmation or motivational book. 

10. Remember that it's not about the money. It's the holiday season, the holiday cheer... you know, with the whoop-de-do and hickory dock...🎵 it's about love and unity, about family and peace... it's about the memories you create together and well, that's about it.