The holiday shopping madness is on. Crowded stores, crashing websites, and long lists of gifts, gifts, gifts! Unfortunately, the financial effects of the recession are still lingering in our bank accounts. You are looking for ways to cut back on the amount of spending you’d normally do during this time of year. At the same time, there are a bunch of people you want to buy the best presents for and you don’t want to offend gift recipients or you simply don’t want to appear cheap. Luckily, there are several proper, socially acceptable options for economically sound gift-giving.
1. Friends – Suggest a Secret Santa styled gift exchange to buddies within the same social circle. I’ve done this with one of my groups of close-knit girlfriends for years and it turns out beautifully. Each person will randomly select another friend’s name and buy that person a gift. Put a cap on the maximum amount each person can spend. That works out to be one reasonably priced item per person and everybody will receive a present from a friend who knows their taste.
2. The Boss – Request that everyone in the office pitch in for the boss or bosses’ gift(s), so that no one person gets stuck breaking the bank. Even when you do a Secret Santa with a spending limit at the job, the person who pulls the boss’ name ends up feeling obligated to purchase something nicer and more expensive. If everyone is pitching in, then you can all share credit for the hefty gift.
3. Co-workers – Skip the gift exchange and select a charity to donate to. You could each buy a toy for children or donate coats to the homeless. Choose something everyone feels comfortable with. This way you are still doing something as a team, but the focus is not on how much anyone spent. You might not even have to spend a dime.
4. Family – It is completely acceptable to admit you have fallen on hard times and need to save money. In general, you may fear that others won’t understand or you might look bad if you reveal your financial pinch. However, family is different. Family understands, or at least they need to understand. Be honest with them. If you think they will still expect gifts, then buy each one a useful stocking stuffer priced items with a personal note in the card explaining it’s not much but you knew it was something they would enjoy.
Above all else, it is up to you to decide how much you can shell out. Create a budget that works for you and stick to it. As long as you are polite and thoughtful, the rest will take care of itself. And if by chance you lose a so-called friend because you couldn’t give them a gift one year, then you didn’t lose much. Happy Savings!