The inevitable truth for many of us is that Christmas comes way too fast. Just like that, summer has hit and you’ve got a few weeks to fight the crowds and nab that perfect last minute gift for Aunt Suzy and the latest gadget for your tech savvy husband. The stress of the last minute, and the expense of not having a plan, is what make Christmas shopping some people’s least favourite activity.
As we approach the season this year, however, it might be time to make a pact with yourself to avoid these costly last minute habits. Having a plan for your Christmas gifts is the first step to saving money this year, and following the below tips is the next.
Shop the sales
We’ll go over the more obvious tip first to get your feet wet in the pool of money saving habits. If you’re a smart shopper, you’re probably well tuned in to the sales signs and offers you receive in the mail and via email. Maybe you’re even one of those shoppers who only shops the sales. If you’re that good, feel free to move on. But for most of us, we don’t plan ahead nearly enough to be able to shop sales.
The key to getting around this and to actually take advantage of sales, is to plan your Christmas list way ahead of time. That way, you can keep an eye out for sales as they come throughout the year, and pick it up when it’s an especially good price. Sales and offers are especially hot just after Christmas, so if you can plan ahead enough, take advantage of these epic prices.
Do it yourself
Okay, we know there’s definitely readers out there who absolutely hate do it yourself projects, but hear us out for a minute. What are the best gifts you’ve ever gotten? Usually, it’s a gift that was personalised just for you, and perhaps took a lot of thought and effort as well. Do it yourself gifts means that you’ve got at least one out of three of those things that make it the best ever.
Even if the gift isn’t particularly expensive or didn’t take weeks to create, it still shows the gift receiver that you care about them. If you’re into making things from scratch, consider a planter made from crates or old boxes, or sewing together aprons made with their favourite colours.
Other ideas include making sugar scrubs for the shower, or various soaps and face masks. These items are often a lot easier than you think to make, and you can make a lot at the same time to give away. There’s hundreds of other ideas all over the internet, so don’t be afraid to do some searching for inspiration.
Another good idea is to create your own wrapping paper, bows, and bags. For inspiration, take a look at this article with loads of wrapping paper ideas. Even if the gift is a bit boring, at least it’s wrapped with love and stands out a bit.
Buy in bulk
Buying anything in bulk will most likely save you lots of money, especially if there’s a discount offered for bulk items. Plus, you’ll save on shipping one bulk amount, rather than having to pay for shipping for multiple different items. A perfect example of a great Christmas gift idea is buying cases of New Zealand wine. You can wrap them up nicely with that do it yourself wrapping paper you made, and have an easy gift to bring to Christmas parties or to your family get together.
Other bulk ideas that make great gifts is ordering organic coffee beans from Auckland, or various stocking stuffers like tea, movie tickets, or your favourite recent book. Find other good bulk stocking stuffers, here.
Do something different
Step away from the norm this year and try something different, while still saving a little bit of money. Have Christmas flowers delivered to your office coworkers or even your parents or parents in law. Donate hours to a local charity in the name of a friend or family member, and make it extra special by volunteering at a charity you know they really believe in and support. Or, have food delivered to an Auckland central homeless shelter or charity.
Pick up some easy, generic gifts throughout the year when on sale that you can use as stocking stuffers or for that person you always forget to put on your list. Keep a stockpile of things you can use for gifts throughout the year. It’s a really good idea to also make a list as early in the year as you can, so you can watch for those sales as we talked about above.
If you’ve got a kid who just got engaged, use that opportunity to offer to pay for a piece of the wedding, like the wedding venue hire, as a Christmas gift. Or if another kid is taking a big trip at the end of the year, offer up a Christmas gift of a chunk of traveling change for them, or paying for travel insurance or new luggage.
Do gift exchanges
If you’ve got a large family or a big group of friends that typically exchanges gifts, it might be time to suggest a gift exchange. This reduces the amount of individual gifts you have to buy. One example is for everyone to bring one $10 or under gift, and then draw numbers to decide who gets to get up and pick a gift. You can make it exciting by playing one of these gift exchange games, or making one up on your own!
Hopefully this has gotten your creativity juices flowing, and you’re ready to start saving money this Christmas season. Regardless of how much do it yourself or bulk items or gift exchanges you participate in, the beauty of this season is spending as much time as you can with family and friends. When in doubt, the best Christmas gift you can give is your time, so be generous and spread your Christmas cheer as much as you can.