Christmas time reminds me of how many people I know and how many people bless my life.
Culturally, Christmas is one of the times that we are to acknowledge the important roles that others play in our lives. We do this by giving them a gift. However, for most of us, our list of people who we should buy Christmas gifts for continues to grow, but the amount of money that we’ve decided to spend on Christmas remains the same.
Long Christmas lists and a limited budget often leads to an enormous amount of stress.
But it doesn’t have to be such a financially stressful event.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Frugal Christmas List that Blesses Others
1. Set your Christmas budget.
How much will you choose to spend on Christmas gifts this year? The first step here is to decide on something that fits within your budget. You don’t want to enjoy Christmas in December and pay for it (literally) till the summer. Don’t be ashamed if you can’t afford much for Christmas. Set your limits.
2. Write a list of everyone to whom you wish you could give a gift.
Pretend that time and money were no factor. Yes, it will probably be a long list, but that’s okay.
3. Classify each person on your Christmas list.
Here are some possible ways you can classify each person:
- Email or e-card – This would be people that you want to take five minutes out of your day to send them a heartfelt thank you for the ways they’ve blessed you.
- Mail a card – For a relatively low price, you should be able to get a family picture to send, create a newsletter, and print it up at home. Because the ‘acceptability’ of emails is changing, some people still like the personal touch of a card in the mail.
- No cost or low cost gift – Items included in this category would be homemade gifts and other craft type items. These may require a little more of your time, but they are personalized, low cost, or free gifts.
- Gift card – There might be some people you interact with that the most appropriate thing to do is to get them a gift card. There are several places online to buy discounted gift cards, so keep that in mind.
- Traditional gift – Most families enjoy going out and finding a gift that is ‘just right’ for a loved one.
4. Assign a dollar value to each gift or person.
Let’s say you decide to mail out 100 cards. This might cost $1 per person when you include all printing and postage costs. If that is the case, you’d designate $100 to cards.
Under the traditional gift category, we decide how much we’ll do for each person by relational groups. We ask how much for parents, how much for kids, how much for cousins, how much for siblings, etc. Interestingly, in our families, these numbers are different, depending on which side of the family they belong to. Each family has a ‘giving culture’ that you’ll need to factor into the budget.
5. Check the total.
Add up the total for how much all your gifts are going to cost. Is the number larger than the Christmas budget you set? If so, you’ll need to shift some people from one category to another until you make the budget equal to what you’ve decided to spend.
6. Do the shopping and the work as you stick diligently to your limits.
When you go shopping, you should know how much you have to spend for Little Johnny and Uncle Frank. In order for your budget to hold up, you must stay within the allocated budgeted amounts.
By following this simple step-by-step strategy, you ought to be able to get a loving gift for almost everyone on your list. Some may receive a card or something homemade, but everyone will know that you love them and thought about them during the Christmas season.
What do you do to create a fantastic yet frugal Christmas? How do you strategize your giving and spending? Leave a comment!