Tis the season to give. But, sometimes the stresses of giving can sour the season. Here are a few tips & ideas to make holiday gift giving easier.
- Holiday Wish List- A couple of years ago I had no idea what to get B for Christmas. So we took him to the toy store and had him create a wish list. It was the best idea ever because now I don’t have to remember what I told each grandparent or aunt and uncle to get for him. They can access his wish list on-line or in the store. I ordered items off of B’s wish list and had them shipped (free shipping!) right to my front door. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for adults either. You can create a wish list or gift registry at stores like Target or on-line at Amazon.com. My family usually tells each other what they want so people don’t end up with things they don’t want or like.
- Set a Budget- It’s no secret we’re Dave Ramsey fans. For many years I’ve kept our Christmas budget in our finance spreadsheets, Dave now has free, on-line budgeting software called Everydollar. After a few years of feeling bad because someone spent more on us than we did on them, I’ve finally started talking to my family about what the budget is for Christmas presents. This has eliminated those guilty feelings of not giving equally. Also, it removes the awkwardness of asking someone what they want for Christmas and them not knowing what price range they’re working in. And if you’re having a rough year or trying to work your way out of debt there is no shame in letting people know that the budget is a little tighter this year. People who care about your best interest will understand and those that don’t, should probably be taken off your giving list.
- Start a Christmas Savings Account- It’s too late for this Christmas but starting an automatic savings account now for next year makes giving so much easier. Figure out how much you spend on Christmas (gifts, tree, lights, cards, etc.) and divide that amount by the number of times you’ll deposit into the account throughout the year. I have a portion of our paycheck direct deposited into our Christmas savings account. We get paid semi-monthly so I divide my total number by 24. When I start shopping for Christmas gifts I just transfer the money into our main account to make purchases. If you don’t have direct deposit you can create an automatic transfer through your bank into your savings account.
- Make a List & Communicate– You need to know who you’re going to buy for in order to stay within your Christmas budget. If you’ve got a big family drawing names works well. Once everyone has kids it’s easy to just buy for the kids. Be sure to communicate with those you plan to buy for. No one wants to be caught off guard without a gift to give in return. If you’re unsure if friends or family plan to exchange gifts it never hurts to ask. In the past I’ve kept an extra gift on hand just in case.
- Gift Tags- I started using gift tags with just the receiver’s name when B started recognizing his name. I used to use the store-bought tags that had to/from on them but it confused B because he thought they were all for him, his name was either in the To spot or From spot. Now he can help pass out presents because only the receiver’s name is on them.
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