5 things I do to make Christmas affordable

West County Mall

“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.” ~Charles Dudley Warner

I took the stress out of Christmas gift giving years ago. A lot of it has to do with not caring what people think. You’ll see what I mean. Let’s get to it.

1) I have a monthly gift giving budget.

This is my newest habit but it is probably the most important. Since January of this year I have been setting aside $20 to $30 each month for gift giving. Each month that I don’t spend the money, it get’s rolled over into the next month’s budget. There may have been a couple birthdays or something this year that caused me to dip into it but I still ended up with over $200 this December in my gifts budget. This may be more than I actually need. I know, $200 is not enough for you. Good thing you are not me. There is an easy fix for this though, budget more per month.

What if there is a last minute gift emergency and I don’t have enough money in my budget to get one? I don’t care. The budget is there to tell me exactly how much to spend. If the money is not there it’s not there. I can’t just miracle the money and I am NOT going to use a credit card.

2) If I don’t get to see you open the gift, you don’t get one.

That’s part of the joy of Christmas, isn’t it? Seeing the joy on a persons face as they open their gift from you. I don’t want a post gift exchange phone call from you saying, “Thanks for the socks.” Forget it! It’s meaningless to me. 

Do you have any idea how much Christmas would cost me if I got everyone in my family a gift? This practice shortens my Christmas list tremendously. I have been doing this for years and my life has been better for it.

What if someone sends me a gift and I didn’t send them one? I don’t care. They will be the one on the receiving end of the “Thanks for the socks” phone call.

3) I give very thoughtful gifts.

I mean, you might cry kind of thoughtful. To me, this is the point of gift giving, giving someone a meaningful, thoughtful gift. I quit telling people what I wanted for Christmas years ago because this is the kind of gift I want. I have actually been gifting this way since I was a kid. For Father’s Day one year, I gave my dad a framed picture of his grandparents from their 50th wedding anniversary. He broke down. I just found the picture somewhere and the frame only cost me a couple of bucks. That was about 30 years ago. That picture hangs in his home to this very day. It’s doesn’t have to make them cry, useful is enough. Just last year I gave my dad a $20 holster for one if his pistols. Last month I saw him using it. Perfect!

It actually IS the thought that counts, not the cost. When you put some thought behind your gifts no one will care how much you spent.

4) Nieces and nephews are off the list.

If their parents don’t spoil them, then grandma will. They don’t need my help.

I actually stumbled across this practice several years ago when I got drunk on Christmas eve and forgot to put the envelopes with money for my nieces on the tree. They didn’t even notice the next day and I saved myself $30! I am also not going to waste my money on a useless toy they will get bored with or might not even want. To tell you the truth, I barely even know them compared to their parents, half of which, I’ve know most of my life.

Their parents can think what they want. I don’t care. They don’t have to get my kid (Someday!) anything either.

5) I give stuff I already own.

If you have a unique item, used or not, that can not be bought at the Mega-Low-Mart, I see nothing wrong with giving it to someone as a gift. In 2007 I came home from a two month trip to Mexico with a guitar I bought while I was there. When I stopped to see my brother on a road trip out west, he fell in love with it. I gave it to him right then and there. Guess what guitar he plays on a regular basis to this day? One year, I gave my step mother the Hunger Games series, after having read them.

What will people think when I give them used stuff as gifts? I don’t care. 

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