This year my husband and I had to improvise a lot when it came to Christmas gifts… at least compared to what we normally do. As I mentioned in a couple previous posts, The Beginning of Our Impossible Dreams and Financial Obstacles, we technically live on one paycheck. This is our first Christmas season as such. Hope you can garner some useful tips from below!
- Meaningful but Inexpensive
There are several different routes you can go with this one: ornaments, stocking stuffer novelties, individual handy tools, candy, etc. We bought for three people out of this category, totaling $27.00
- Rewards Points
Some people claim you should steer clear of credit cards. But if you can trust your self-discipline, they can come in handy. We have two credit cards, use them only for what we have budgeted, and pay the balance down every month. Our rewards points can be used to purchase gift cards. So this year we purchased an Amazon gift card and bought a Christmas gift that way, spending $11.00
There are many options with homemade: baking, knitting, crochet, embroidery (our sister-in-law embroidered our initials on a couple kitchen towels!), scrapbooking, ornaments, painting, drawing, etc. I drew a simple cartoon-like picture for our niece. And my husband, who is a wonderful realistic artist, did graphite drawings of our niece for his mom, brother and sister-in-law, and grandparents. You can visit his website at goginstudio.com We did have to buy mats for the pictures, but my husband had a gift card he received to cover those. Those were $6.00
If you know where to look, or you wait until it’s close enough to the holidays, you can usually find some pretty good stuff on clearance. We bought for two people, totaling $10.00
- Something from Home
I’m not usually a fan of gifting something we own. But this year we realized we had something, never been used, that a particular person would greatly appreciate! $0.00
- Remember the Love
My husband and I did not get each other gifts this year. Not enough money. Sure, I was disappointed I couldn’t surprise him as a means to show him how much I love him. At the same time, we have each other and we love each other. That’s more than many can say. $0.00
- Expect the Unexpected
No matter the consideration put into careful planning, there are always going to be unexpected expenses. We wanted to purchase a gift for a couple people with our Amazon card, enabling the gift to be nicer than what we could afford with our own money. Due to unexpected timeframes, we had to use our own money instead. Also, we didn’t have the wrapping needed for our artwork, so had to spend for that too. The present was $10.00, and the wrapping $4.00
- Wrap it Up
Gift-wrapping seems to be an expense many people don’t take into consideration. It’s not an actual gift, right? But it’s still an expense. In the past I’ve used newspaper and paper bags when needing to improvise. We still have wrapping paper we got on super duper clearance after the holidays a couple years ago. And we reuse gift bags given to us. So other than the wrapping mentioned in ‘expect the unexpected’, we spent $0.00 on wrapping.
Obviously, you have additional holiday expenses. For us, that would include groceries for contributing to a work party and holiday meals, and travel expenses. Fortunately, we received a Walmart gift card, a $50 check from a friend, and a $100 bonus, pre-Christmas.
The total we personally spent this Christmas was $51.00 (not including taxes)
Most people I know spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas—it’s the American way. So our total may seem a little extreme. But when finances are tight because we aren’t receiving either of my December paychecks this month, we have to make some sacrifices to cover needs like our house payment, gas bill, and groceries. Fortunately, our friends and family value each other (us included!) more than material gifts.
Are there any more ideas you can add to the Creative Solutions list?