Okay, so gifts aren’t really all that disruptive, but it can be challenging to figure out what to give people while staying within budget. So let’s look at how to decide what to give and how to keep from breaking the bank.
What to Give
The first thing you need to know is who you’re giving gifts to. And by that, I don’t just mean their names. You need to know what they like to do, what their interests are, etc. Who are they?
Once you know who you’re giving gifts to, you need to start noticing your options when you’re out and about. I like to take pictures of specific items with the price visible, so I can look at my ideas when I’m not in the store. It’s also worth talking to the people you’ll be giving gifts to. Ask them what kinds of things they would like to receive, what kinds of things they like to do (so you can give an experience rather than a thing), etc. Maybe they have a wishlist at their favourite store (or on Amazon). If you’re looking at baby gifts or wedding gifts, maybe they have a registry somewhere or a colour scheme they’d like people to observe.
Think about your skills next. You may be able to make really special, personalized gifts for your friends and family. For example, I relearned how to knit and learned to crochet in 2009, and that Christmas I made everyone in my family a toque (“beanie”; knitted winter cap) using their favourite colours. In 2005 when my middle brother was ordained a priest (in the Anglican Church of Canada), I made him a red preaching stole with hand-embroidered symbols (my own design), and it wound up being hand-stitched as well (and about half of that was done by my oldest brother while I was driving us to the service).
I actually don’t enjoy dealing with Christmas and birthdays even though I love giving gifts. That sounds weird, I’m sure, but it makes loads of sense! Why? Because what I really want to do is just give incidental gifts. If I see something that I know a friend or family member would love, then I want to just get it and give it to them right away. Just ask a few of my long-distance friends about the little things I’ve sent to them out of the blue.
How to Budget
I’m planning to do a whole series of posts on finances next year, so I’m only going to talk about how to keep costs down (or at least reasonable) when buying gifts.
The first thing to do is decide how much you can afford to spend overall. Obviously it’s best to set a bit aside each month for different types of gifts, but since we’re really focusing on Christmas (winter holidays) right now, and we’re looking at about three weeks until you need to have the presents ready to go, we’re going to talk about last-minute gifts this week.
When you know your total budget, you can decide how much to spend per person. I like to use multiples of $5 per person because it’s easier to math, and I usually expect to spend more per adult than per child. If money is particularly tight, you could decide to give family gifts instead of individual gifts. For example, I could decide to give my youngest brother and his family a board game like Candyland (his kids are the right age for that) and my middle brother and his family (they have four kids, and the oldest is a teenager while the youngest is early elementary) might enjoy a family activity like a cooperative board game, a set of plain dishes and foodsafe paints, or a family pass to the nearest science centre.
If you’re going to make gifts, you need to think about how long it will take to make each thing, as well as how much the materials will cost. Yarn can be very expensive, but you can cut those costs if you have a large stash built up to choose from. Same with fabric for sewn items. Paint can also cost a fair bit, but one tube will do more than one item. One of the art YouTubers I like to watch, Mira Byler, painted 30 wooden tree ornaments in a recent video. She already has loads of different types of paint, so the immediate cost for something like that would be the cost of the ornaments and the ribbon for people to use to hang them up. If you’re doing something like that, you can easily personalize them. And all it’ll cost you is a bit of time and a few materials you can probably buy in bulk.
When to Wrap
My family is notorious for our “family wrapping paper” being the bag from the store the gift was bought at. Not at Christmas (usually), but birthday gifts are usually just in the store bag. I don’t recommend this method of wrapping gifts unless you and your loved ones are like us and have a warped sense of humour.
We are also notorious for waiting to wrap gifts until we’re at my parents’. Why, you ask? Because my dad saves the wrapping paper (we are not allowed to rip wrapping paper off our gifts) and it is kept in a couple of bins, along with labels and gift bags and so on. So we bring gifts to my parents’ and then we find a time when we can be alone with the gifts and the wrapping paper stash, and we wrap and label the presents.
If you don’t have a stash of wrapping paper and/or you’re not travelling for the holidays this year, I recommend using gift bags and tissue paper instead of wrapping paper. You can usually find great gift bags at the dollar store!
So when should you wrap the gifts? Honestly, it may be best to wrap them as you bring them home. Just make sure you label them and have a good place to keep them where you won’t forget about them but also won’t have to deal with other people trying to guess at their contents.
I don’t have a printable for you this week, but if you would like one to guide you through this process, let me know in the comments on this post and I will see what I can do.
Next month we’re going to talk about planning and planners, particularly as they relate to and are affected by executive dysfunction.