December is a dreaded month for many with all the expenses expected to come. Suddenly it feels like we know tons of people and family just keeps multiplying with siblings and cousins having kids. We hear more and more grown-ups saying that “This year we will not buy any Christmas gifts, only for the kids.” In the end we tend to buy just one small gift anyway, and we do this because there is something more to Christmas than just spending money, there is something beautiful of giving a gift to someone you care about, to see their excitement and to be able to be the reason to put a smile on their face on that day. Personally I love gift giving and I’m a strong believer that Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive.
We will for sure spend a bit more money during December due to Christmas but it doesn’t have to be such a shock for our finances. The society is becoming more and more obsessed with having more and more things and Christmas gifts seem to become more and more expensive. I always say that it’s easy to make someone happy with an expensive gift but it’s also a bit like cheating. The real challenge is to find the perfect gift with a price limit, then you really have to put your heart and soul into the search process and carefully think about what would be the perfect gift for that specific person. That is also when you can find those really special gifts that is not only nice to have but also touches the heart of the person you are giving to.
To make this year’s Christmas a bit more financially sustainable I will share a few different approaches to gift giving that could relieve some of the financial stress around this holiday.
When I was younger I didn’t have much money left after all my expenses were paid, I therefore implemented the 10€ Challenge for a few years. The whole concept was to buy all the gifts to my family (three gifts) for a total of maximum 10€ (100 SEK in my case). It’s not a lot of money per person and in the beginning it seems impossible to give anything decent but it’s definitely not impossible. It did require that I put in more thought into what to give, I had to look carefully when I was out searching in the shops and some of the gifts or parts of the gifts I made myself.
I would suggest to make a package challenge to spend maximum 10€ per two gifts. To be able to achieve this it helps to check out sales, discounted items and make it yourself. But remember, don’t get it just because it’s cheap, it should also be something that the person will appreciate.
Spread It Out
Christmas is tough because all the expenses is concentrated into mainly one month. Instead you can make a smart plan and spread it out over the whole year. This way you’ll be able to harvest from many of the seasonal sales and you can budget an amount you should spend for each month to keep the total expenses in control.
Remember that Christmas gifts is about giving, it’s not about the money and it doesn’t have to be anything material. It is becoming more and more popular to give experiences, however, they are often packaged into a pricy deal. You don’t have to give an experience package in order to give an experience. Sometimes it can be so simple as to spend some quality time together, you could give a dinner date to the person cooked by you or a day out in the city planned with different activities. Think about a gift the people around you would enjoy that is not material, how can you make it happen?
A classic option to spend less on gifts is of course to make it yourself. Be creative, it’s time to bring out all those crafts skills we’ve gained growing up. Making a gift yourself often means more to the person receiving it compared to just buying something from the store shelf. It’s unique and specially made for you. What are you good at? Do you have any hidden skills? If not, there are thousands of tutorial videos on the internet to enable you to make pretty much anything.
Every time I enter a second hand shop and see how much stuff they have I think about how it must be the minority of stuff that ends up in the second hand shop and consequently how many things that are fully functional and just thrown into the trash. We tend to gather a lot of things and some things we might have loved a few years ago, not that special anymore, but it might be special to someone you know. It is a bit unconventional type of gift and some people might get offended, but it’s also a very modern way of thinking now that sustainability is a hot topic around the world. Take a look in your house, do you have things that you don’t really use or enjoy that much anymore that someone you know might love? Wrap it up and you have an earth friendly Christmas gift.
These are some different approaches to prepare your Christmas gifts that will give your finances a relief. What’s most important to remember about Christmas is that it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about how much you care.