How To

Family Gift Giving: 6 Tips to Keeping it Simple

I’ll be the first to admit that I always overspend on holiday gifts for my family. Every year, as I look around the piles of wrapping paper and gifts tossed carelessly aside, while my children play with the one or two items that managed to captivate their interest, I say to myself, “Next year will be different.”

When it comes to holiday gift giving, more is not better. It’s just….. more. According to the National Retail Federation, the largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget goes towards gifts for family members, with the average person spending an average of $403.26 in this category. That’s a lot of Legos and Barbie dolls.

So, in a sea of big holiday toy books, flashy advertisements, and long wish lists, how can we keep holiday gift-giving simple? The steps are, well…. simple.

Set your budget.

This may mean relying on creativity, giving handmade gifts, or not giving gifts at all. I know a family that donates an hour of their time to charity in lieu of giving gifts to family members. Focus on gifts that have meaning and purpose.

Don’t rely on credit.

At the risk of sounding cliche, when it comes to holiday gift-giving, it truly is the thought that counts. Buying on credit, or spending money that isn’t really yours, completely misses the point of the season. Christmas on a credit card also teaches our children unhealthy spending habits and diminishes the value of money.

Visit Christmas past.

Think about all your memories and traditions from the previous holiday seasons. Which ones stand out? Cutting back on gift-giving doesn’t mean going without, it means savoring the things that are most important.

Pare it down

-A Gift They Want

-A Gift They Need

-A Gift They Wear

-A Gift They Read

This simple gift-giving concept is something I have run across time and time again. Not only does this philosophy set realistic expectations, it allows for more thought and meaning to go into each gift and reduces the stress associated with holiday spending.

Track expenses.

Using a simple money-tracking system will inevitably keep you on track and within your budget. It’s very easy to get carried away with the holiday spending. For example, last year I did all my holiday shopping early and stayed well-within my budget, but as the weeks went by, I kept picking up “just a few things” here and there and before I knew it, I had spent beyond my means. Make a budget, stick to your list, do your shopping, and then be done with it.

Prepare for the unexpected.

Keep a stash of “emergency gifts.” There will inevitably be a time this holiday season when you need to come up with a last minute gift or two (or three, or four…..). An inexpensive solution to this problem is keeping a few homemade holiday gifts handy. Edible gifts are always a great option, as they eliminate the worry of finding the perfect item, they are easy on your budget, and they have a personal and sentimental touch.

I am thrilled to begin a new tradition of simple gift-giving this holiday season. How do you keep holiday gift-giving simple in your family?

Morgan is a freelance writer and blogger living in Southern California with her two daughters and flock of backyard chickens. You can read more of her at The Little Hen House.