How to be a great gift giver (even on a tiny budget)

By McKenzie Schwark
Features Writer

Set a budget and stick to it

We know your loved ones deserve the world, and it’s easy to get carried away when you want to give them everything their hearts desire. But more than likely they wouldn’t want you to break the bank giving it to them. Before you go out shopping (and get swept up with holiday deals and cute displays) create a budget for how much you want to spend on gifts. Once you have a final number of what you can spend, break down everyone you want to gift something and factor them in to that budget. Do not stray from your budget no matter how cute those matching pajama sets might look on all of your girlfriends!

It’s the thought that counts

The holidays aren’t about how much you can spend. This time of year, what really matters is spending time with loved ones and reflecting on the year as it comes to a close. Thoughtful gifts go a long way and show that you really listen to and care about the person you’re giving it to. Get creative! A well-written card about how much you appreciate and care about them means more than a piece of jewelry. Maybe they love a dish you’ve made that you can offer during this time. There are plenty of ways to show someone how much they mean to you without maxing out your credit card.

Choose an experience over an item

Quality time can be a gift in itself. Offer to spend time with a loved one rather than giving them a material item. You don’t have to shell out tickets for the ballet necessarily. Offer to grab coffee and go for a walk or take a drive to look at the Christmas lights in your neighborhood.

Start a gift exchange

Instead of buying gifts for each of your individual friends or family members, suggest doing a gift exchange. Everyone is assigned someone from your group at random to get a gift. That way you’re each responsible for one gift rather than ten. Make sure to set a budget for everyone as well!

Be honest

Be honest with yourself and your loved ones about what you can afford to do. If a friend hints that they’ve gotten you an incredible and elaborate gift this year, that doesn’t mean you have to immediately run out and try to do the same for them. Let them know if you can’t swing it this year. Your loved ones aren’t getting you gifts just to be given a gift in return. They’re doing it because they care about you and want to show it! You can show them that same love back without straining your budget. Offer an alternative, give a homemade gift, or save for a nicer birthday present.

Although this time of year comes with pressure for gift giving, that isn’t what this season is about. So, this year try to take the pressure off of yourself and remember the real gift is always spending time with and appreciating your loved ones.