Cha-Ching! The most terrible sound of year!
Here it is. That time of year where I feel the pressure to give gifts to those we love. A surprisingly catholic sense of guilt creeps over me with the dawning of Holiday Sales and the “spirit of the season”. From magazines to YouTube the “Ultimate Holiday Gift Guides” are sprinkled across all ads. Guides for literally EVERYONE…for him, for her, for them, for the people who consistently like your Instagram pictures. It is exhausting to think about and bank account sucking to attempt.
So I decided to make my own gift guide. This one is for the individual who cringes at the thought of buying another god awful christmas mug to fill with chocolates for every single one of their co-workers. This is also for the generous in spirit, yet financially conscious. This is for those who want to give a gift, but at half the cost and double the meaning.
Joy to the World! But don’t buy them Gifts
First, let’s set some ground rules. Giving is essential. It is human. It is a beautiful, philanthropic thing. However, if you are on your journey to Financial freedom, Financial Independence, Early Retirement…or simply don’t want to be bankrupt starting out 2018, then here are some rules to follow.
- Choose only those in your immediate family to give gifts to. Whether that immediate family is by blood or one you have created, keep it to a small circle of 5-10 people.
- Do not give gifts because you feel “obligated”. You do not owe anyone anything. Just because Sue gives everyone a gift card in the office doesn’t mean you have to.
- Focus on the value, not the price. Higher cost doesn’t mean higher value.
- If you do have to shop, shop intentionally and shop the sales. Do not ever pay full price.
I Wanna Wish You a Frugal Christmas
Here are our alternative gift ideas. Some we have done. Some we have had given to us by friends. Whatever you choose, give out of love, not obligation.
- Give to your favorite Charities in your loved ones honor. This is what we are doing this year. I made some custom cards in Photoshop that we plan to give to all of our family and any money we would have spent on gifts went to the organizations of our choice.
- Give away a homemade gift. I have done this for several years and made everything from soy candles in Goodwill mugs to body scrub with coconut oil, sugar and essential oils.
- Bake. I know this is still a home made gift, however if done well it can feel luxurious. Every year my Aunt and I make sugar cookies with royal icing. They are so fancy, one wrapped in ribbon will feel like a special treat! Put a few in a tin and give to a family who has helped you out this year. The animal centric individual (like myself) might want to bake some dog treats for their fur friends.
- Give a Memory. Use Groupon or even MeetUp and invite your loved ones to an event. Create a memory of doing something fun rather than filling another drawer with stuff. Plan a special date with your significant other and give them a “coupon” to redeem the date.
- Give the Gift of Knowledge. It may sound corny, but some of the best gifts we have gotten were for a New Yorker subscription, a gift card to iTunes, a gift card to Kindle. Consider any sources of information that people may want to have in their life. If you are not learning, you aren’t growing.
Throw your change in the Salvation Army bucket, pay for the groceries of the person in front of you, but don’t run out and participate in consumerism because you feel like you “have too”. You can be generous and still watch your budget.