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How to get through gift giving for the holidays without breaking the bank.
I'm the first to admit I am one of the least organized people I know. That being said, when it comes to saving money I am a little less lazy than some people but don't get it confused with my terrible organization skills! When the weather starts getting cooler and the leaves are changing colours, it's always my cue to start preparing gifts for the holidays. Because I make handmade soap, it does require at least a month to cure before I can give them away which means in this respect I need to be on the ball. Since I am already in gift giving mode at this point, I start thinking about what I can do for everyone in my life. Most people get a bag with my preserves, bath bombs, soaps and candles but on top of that I like to give everyone something special and unique to them. Soap is made in the fall, preserves in summer and fall and candles also in the fall. This takes care of the bulk of the gift but I still need to come up with special things for everyone which is the tough part.
Part of my motivation for starting early is that I very much dislike shopping, even more so when the stores are filled with people pushing each other and throwing their stressful negative energy at me. The last thing I want to do is try to find something for "so and so" a week before Yule and pay premium price for it. Not only does it stress me out but what ends up happening is that I probably purchase an OK gift because that's all I could find in a short period of time.
That being said, I make a list of people I have to get special things for, usually close friends and my mom since I do not have other family members to purchase for. I think about what these people are interested in, perhaps they've mentioned something, a new hobby or interest or something they've had their eye on lately. I put a lot of thought into what to get but the challenge is that I can not spend more than a certain amount in total.
For example, I have a friend who is very interested in South Africa. He loves maps and history. So I emailed the South Africa tourism board a few months ahead of time letting them know what I was looking for. I also purchased a book found online discounted for $5 on South Africa's history. Not only is this gift almost free, but it's something he will love and cherish because some thought was put into it. I find people are very appreciative if you've paid attention to things they've said or tap into what they are interested in. It can take time to come up with ideas which is why starting to *think* about it early is a good idea!
I have another friend who has many of the same interests as I do. For her, it was a bit more challenging as the things tend to cost more than $5. I looked on Etsy.com for tons of things she'd love but so many items were priced at more than what I could afford. I settled on a few things and tried to see if I could find it locally (usually handmade things I don't make myself) by sending out emails to local e-groups I am on. Also check the local art school if you are looking for crafty things!
Moms are hard to shop for because at least in my mom's case, she doesn't need anything and she can purchase anything she wants. She is always happy with my handmade goodies, so I give her a few more soaps and candles and never have to actually go out and get anything extra for her. In the past I had done this but she ended up mostly raving about the handmade stuff! So i took the hint and left it at that :) Although the past few years I've been getting her a magazine subscription because it only costs $10 and she does love it. :D A lot of magazines have two for one subscription specials close to the holidays so check websites for them.
Another friend of mine just purchased DJ turntables, "old skool"....so finding vinyl records for him was a lot of fun! So many thrift stores have records for $1 so I just bought a few and that was that! I had to go to a few different stores throughout the fall/winter until I found what he would like.
My hubby is tough to shop for because he's a real techie geek and loves fancy expensive gadgets. He usually saves up for them himself which means I don't need to buy them, nor would I anyway! We rarely purchase each other gifts anyway but for Yule, I love to surprise him with fun goodies. I usually go to a thrift store and buy fun things and fill a bag for under $10.
I also collect airmiles and although I need to use them for myself most of the time (for grocery gift certificates), I sometimes collect enough to get someone a $10 coffee card and 2-1 movie gift certificates which are always appreciated!
Another thing I do, is collect freebies all year long by going to those freebie sites. I end up with a box full of cool things that end up making really cool goodie bags! A nice thing to do is purchase gift certificates throughout the year so by the time the holidays come around, i don't need to spend any money. I have a special box in my room with things I've acquired free or gift certificates I purchased while the store was having a special sale. This box is amazing for last minute gifts, even for birthdays. Sometimes I think my room looks like a store!
Personally I get a lot of satisfaction out of all of this which is why I am so passionate about it. Not everyone likes to do this or take the time to shop around. Here's something easy to follow: No matter what time of year it is, if you come across something on sale or that you know your friend or family member will love, get it. Store it away and when a birthday or holiday comes, you already have something for them! :)
Here are some other cool gifts for people: Plants you grew from cuttings in a funky pot that you spray painted, A DVD full of ripped movies or CD with music or podcasts, calendars made with photos you took (this can be done in MS publisher), Thrift store gift certificates, Gift certificates for the local cosmetology school, Gifts in a Jar (like cookies, cakes..google for recipes)
Also remember to email companies for coupons or free samples of things!
Happy Gift Giving!
By Lisa from Halifax
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Many of you reading this will have done some of the above, no matter your age, right?
I decided many years ago to try and find a way to give a gift that was really wanted, needed or just a pleasant surprise. Since I raised 6 children by myself, money was always "just a short distance from NONE" so I had to take that in to account also.
First of all, we had to decide how to save for some of the gifts that would cost money. A "Gift Kitty" was set up. All of our extra change or whatever we had to spare was saved until the special event. Sometimes the amount was very small but a vote was always made on how to spend it.
My plan was to make a list of all the people that I and/or my children would like to give a gift for whatever was the occasion. Lists had to made as far in advance of the event as possible so we could gather information for our gifts. Of course Christmas was always the longest list.
Once everyone had the list of names and each one had a chance to cross off names that did not pertain to them (no gift), it was time to gather information. Our list would sometimes be quite long as we did not intend to buy anything (usually). The information gathering was usually fun and everyone shared their results every day or so.
Information consisted of the needs, dreams, desires, wants, necessities, etc. of all the people on our list. This info can be gathered all year as you visit or converse with the people you know will be on your list at anytime of the year. Sometimes the thing someone really wants may cost money and a decision would have to be made if that was one of the items to be purchased with our Gift Kitty.
Our gifts consisted of things like; cut the lawn 4 times, repair a screen door, clean up an area, clean up a desired room, clean out the refrigerator or freezer, take the dog for walks, clean the driveway, etc. There are so many small things that young and old would like done that the lists could go on and on. We never tried to decide if someone else should be doing this, but we did have to try not to hurt anyone's feelings or place shame on anyone.
Sometimes the "needs" of a recipient would consist of quite a few things and when that happened we would decide to list each 'gift' on a slip of paper, place them in a box and let the recipient draw out one or two slips and that was their gift on this occasion. Save the others for another day.
I am 78 now, children all gone on their own, but I still stick to this type of giving and continue to have many happy recipients. So do you know someone that "has it all" or that you would like to really please with a gift that will be remembered for a long time? Why not make a list of the things you can do for someone (everyone has different talents) and try to find out if someone on your list has need of something you can do?
If you live far away or just do not have the time (or talent) for the gift that person really needs or wants, can you afford to get someone else to do it? Or maybe just a magazine subscription? Or a gift card to their favorite fast food place? Or a movie gift card? The list can be endless but can be narrowed down to fit your budget or time.
How much nicer to give/receive something that you KNOW the giver really had your personal desires in mind when the gift was "purchased". Naturally, seniors, shut-ins, live alone Moms and Dads, and needy or time strapped friends/neighbors may be the primaries on your list but I know from long time experience that this type of gift is usually a "keeper".
Give a gift with love and friendship and you will always have a Merry Christmas.
By Betty from FL
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