Once you’ve determined your Christmas Budget, it’s time to break that down further and create a gift list.
1. Use Your Budget As a Guide
If it’s not in the budget, you can’t buy it. Period. And even if it feels like you’re being a scrooge, I promise you that it’s always better to give small and simple gifts that you can afford than to give elaborate, extravagant gifts you buy on credit.
For the first few years of our marriage, we did nothing in the way of gifts for Christmas. We couldn’t afford to buy or make gifts, so we just didn’t. And we survived just fine. It wasn’t our first choice, but it was a sacrifice we made in order to survive law school without debt.
2. Pare Down Your Gift List, If Need Be
Sticking with your Christmas budget may mean that you need to pare down who you buy gifts for. I talked about paring down your gift list in my post on simplifying Christmas yesterday:
Evaluate your gift list: Do you really need to give a gift to your uncle’s neighbor’s dog? I’m pretty sure Fido will survive just fine without another fancy chew toy, so save your money and use it to buy gifts for those you really care about or want to bless.
Creating limits for how many gifts you buy helps to simplify things. MoneySavingMom.com reader Ashley says, “We give each of our children three, and only three, Christmas gifts. One gift is always something useful like pajamas; one gift is money for their savings; and one gift is something they want or a fun gift. By limiting the number of fun gifts to just one per child, we are able to say no when we see something they would love, but not love enough to be their fun gift.”
3. Be Free From Guilt or Obligation
Buying a gift for someone out of guilt or obligation gives you no fulfillment. I loved what Rachel from Small Notebook said in her post on simplifying Christmas without the guilt:
Sometimes Christmas seems like putting on a show. It’s wearisome, and it leaves us wanting more.
I’ve been thinking about what a simple Christmas would be like for us, and together with my husband we have chosen some things to cut back on. This means I won’t get to act like Martha and show off my amazing skills. (Which is a good thing, considering my past kitchen disasters.)
More and more, I have to remember that Christmas is not about me. It’s not about what I can do, what I can make, or how organized I can be.
If our Christmas is to resemble the way that Christ came to this earth, then we need to take a step back. The way Jesus was born was humble. It wasn’t a spectacular show. It wasn’t a production. I want my Christmas to reflect that, so I can dwell on him this season. (Read the full post here; it’s really good!)
4. Give Gifts That Are Meaningful
When you plan ahead and make a list of who you are buying gifts for, it allows you to put forth more time and effort into the actual gifts. Instead of hastily throwing together a gift or hurriedly running to the store and getting some generic gifts, planning ahead allows you to consider what would really bless the recipient.
Take time to consider each person on your list individually. Think what would really be meaningful to them. Ask another friend or family member for suggestions if you’re having trouble coming up with them.
Some people find it helpful to keep a running list of gift ideas and to update this list as someone mentions a particular like or interest. My husband does this for me and he always ends up surprising me with a completely unexpected gift that is something I love–all because he wrote down the idea on his list months in advance.
5. Experience Joy in Giving
When we give gifts we can afford and that we’ve put effort and thought into, there’s so much joy in giving! We don’t have to worry about a credit card bill coming in January, we don’t have to feel guilty because we just threw something together at the last minute. We can just thoroughly enjoy giving–no strings or guilt attached!
How do you plan your gift-giving? Do you use a spreadsheet online? Do you use a printed gift planner? Or do you use another method? I’d love to hear what works for you!
1. Sometime in the next 24 hours, sit down with your Christmas budget and plan out your Christmas gift list. Start by jotting down all the names of those people whom you’d like to give gifts to and then compare it to your budget.
2. If need be, pare down the list and then set a specific budget amount for each person.
3. Brainstorm possible gift ideas (we’ll talk about this more tomorrow).