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Rather than buying individual Christmas gifts for your cousin, her husband and each of their children, give one Christmas gift to all of them that they can enjoy as a family.
Instead of buying Christmas gifts for people who already have everything they need, try donating some food to your local food bank. Send each person who might be thinking they will get a gift from you a note telling them that you gave their "gift" to a needy family this year and thank them! You can include a copy of the grocery receipt.
I do the same thing with the "Angel Trees" every year.
You can also volunteer time at the soup kitchens serving needy people a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as a way of being thankful for all you have. This is a great lesson for kids as well.
If you have the money, you can also adopt a family in your community and buy them things they need instead. This is a great project if several families get together since they would have more money to spend. Remember that some kids would appreciate a new pair of shoes rather than a toy! Believe it or not, some kids on the Angel Trees (teens especially) ask for under clothes. Just remember all that you have and imagine, if you needed underwear, that would embarrass you.
You will feel good about what you have done and know that you have helped the world be a kinder place for a family/children in need.
By Virginia from Brownsville, OR
After Christmas, I start a Christmas Gift Tote for the next year. I place a tote, in my craft room and each month buy a gift to add to the tote or if I find bargains while shopping on particular gifts I purchase 2 or 3 of them and add them to the tote as well. Then in November, I get the tote and start wrapping gifts. I have found that is it a little easier on the pocketbook and less stress.
By Kathy from Owensboro, KY
Whenever I buy a birthday gift and I happen to exchange a Christmas gift with that person, I buy two. One for their birthday and then one for Christmas. When I wrap the birthday gift, I go ahead and wrap the Christmas gift at the same time and put it away for Christmas.
That way for Christmas I am not so overwhelmed by all the shopping and especially the wrapping! And of course I keep a list of everybody I have already bought for. Trust me, I am not a really organized person, but this makes my life so much easier come December!
By Kiki from Wichita, KS
My husband was surprised that I had started to buy little Christmas gifts before Halloween! But there are so many people we would like to give little gifts to at church, work and so on. So I start to shop around for Christmas gifts in the fall.
Have Christmas gifts purchased by August and wrapped by September and you will have a relaxed holiday season!
One solution to the difficulty of choosing gifts for members of your extended family is to choose a gift that is given to the entire family, rather than individual ones. This is a page about buying family Christmas gifts.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
On the average year, my husband and I have 16 Christmas gifts to buy for family. To eliminate stress, I start buying for Christmas in January. Basically every 3 weeks, I buy a gift. This is also a huge help on the budget.
After I buy the (or finishing making) the gift, I go ahead and wrap it, put on the gift tag and put it into the Christmas box. But, to keep track, I put a number on the back of the gift tag. Then I keep a small tablet in the Christmas box with the gift tag number, and I write who it is for, what it is..... so I will remember what I got who.
I find that it works best to save children's gifts for the later part of the year. It makes it easier to determine the correct size or toy.
This works best if you stick to "generic" type of gifts for adults, such as a nonexpirable gift card, towels, blanket, hat and gloves. Basically just items that won't go out of date, out of style or require a particular size.
By April from Missouri
My sister who just recently passed away did her shopping like that. She wrapped them in newspaper and jotted the name and item in the margin of an article and stuck them in her "Santa closet". That way she kept snoopy grandkids from finding out what was there. (01/08/2008)
By Marty Dick
One way to keep track of whose is whose without putting tags on the gifts (to avoid snoopers finding their gifts) is to wrap the gifts in colored coded wrapping paper. Johnny's gifts are all wrapped in green, Suzie's in red, Bobby's in striped, etc
We have four kids and this works well for us. The kids all had surprised looks on their faces Christmas morning so I can only assume our system was a success! =) (12/29/2008)