This year, I was actually able to employ a couple of strategies to save some money during the holidays and still give thoughtful gifts to everyone on my list. I've always given gifts I can't afford, but I've justified the spending by thinking the recipients were worth it, or that I would make the money back. Whether or not those things turned out to be accurate, I always ended up in stressful financial situations as a result, when that may have been avoided with a little more thought on the front end of things.
The first change I made this year was planning far in advance for gift giving by making a massive quantity of limoncello with my mom. After reading a how-to article in the newspaper, my mom and I decided to start making some of this Italian after-dinner liqueur around September so it would be ready for holiday gifting come December.
We purchased the ingredients (Everclear, lemons, sugar, a sealed glass jar, and small corked bottles), began the process, bottled the finished product in December, and gave the limoncello as gifts to a number of family friends, neighbors, work friends and bosses and family members. In every case, the gift was truly appreciated and I felt excited to give it, rather than feeling stressed about buying a number of individual small gifts that were appropriate in size and price. Thanks to my mom's clever idea, I was able to save a significant amount of money while still giving thoughtful gifts to those I love.
The second strategy I employed this holiday season to save some of my precious money was to team up with my sister and her husband in order to get a nicer gift for my brother. Quantity really isn't stressed in my familial gift-giving, but in certain cases, quality (or at least the quality of the thought behind the gift) is truly appreciated. After a pretty exhaustive search, I found the perfect oxford shoes to give my brother, which were affordable if split between the three of us, but would have been somewhat ridiculous if I would have splurged on my own.
The final strategy I came up with was to replace a material gift for my dad with a more action-oriented gift. Anything material that my dad truly loves he already owns in massive quantities, and any other material items are somewhat inconsequential to him for the most part.
However, he is a man that has many projects he would love to undertake, but has no time to complete. I decided to come up with a few of the projects I know he would be relieved and excited to see in progress and offer my services to make them happen. For his gift, I am gathering his record, CD and book collections, compiling catalogues of each collection, and organizing each collection in an appealing and safe way in the house. I told him he can give as much or as little input to the process as he wants, but I will be working on this for him throughout the next couple months.
Thankfully, I found by employing these three tactics, I was able to develop a new thought process behind gift giving that allows me to still put genuine thought and love into my gifts without stretching myself too far beyond my means.