The thought that counts
5 frugal approaches that show big love with little cash
As Christmas carols begin to play and the holiday period looms, so too does the growing pressure to find Christmas gifts for friends, family members, colleagues, teachers… and the list goes on. It’s exhausting and stressful. This year why not take a different approach and choose to focus on gifts that cost less but mean more?
For many, Christmas is one of the most challenging times of the year financially. Finding extra cash to buy gifts often comes at the same time as reduced working hours and added childcare expenses. Those who have recently started new jobs will also have no holiday pay and may require a personal loan to help with holiday expenses.
Sometimes a small cash loan is an easy way to get through this period. Some gifts, especially for children, are always helpful. However, if you spend too much during the silly season you may find yourself regretting purchases long after Santa has dashed away on his sleigh. So be sure to check what is affordable and manageable in the medium and long term too.
And if you are still looking for ways to help keep holiday expenses down, why not focus more on experiences, thoughtful gestures and lasting memories instead? Here are five free or low-cost gift ideas for Christmas presents to show your loved ones you are thinking of them.
Despite what the shops try to tell us every Christmas, experiences are more often than not far more valuable than possessions. Giving a personalised experience is therefore the chance to give someone a present they’ll always remember (while avoiding another unnecessary or unwanted item ending up at the bottom of the wardrobe or in the third drawer down in the kitchen).
Gift a movie night experience complete with snacks, drinks and an in-home cinema experience. Design a day out involving a hike and a delicious packed picnic lunch. Offer to do a day’s service at a loved one’s home. Clean up the yard, wash the windows or cook a meal – it may be just the help they need.
2. Baking and preserves
Food is a gift everyone appreciates (whether they admit it or not). Christmas is the perfect excuse to whip us special treats like truffles, gingerbread men, or something special to have with lunch or dinner.
While you will still have to buy ingredients there are plenty of delicious baking ideas that can be whipped up from items you may have in the cupboard too. It may be easier than you think to create shortbread biscuits, home-made muesli or special oils or marinades?
When it comes to gifting baking or preserves, presentation is key. Create your own labels to adorn glass jars or containers and, with a bit of ribbon or wrapping paper, you have an instant luxury item.
3. A floral bouquet
A bunch of flowers brings a smile to anyone’s face and there is nothing like handing over a beautifully arranged assortment of bright colors and sweet smells to show someone you love them.
Perhaps you have a garden bursting with flowers or a friendly neighbor or relative that would be happy for you to do some pruning? With a bit of creative flair, it’s easy (and free) to create a beautiful bouquet to impress. And it doesn’t have to be flowers, an arrangement of green leaves or native foliage can make a striking creation. For a Christmas, version creates a wreath for the front door or table decoration for Christmas lunch.
4. Secret Santa
For large families, Secret Santa is a stress-free solution for gift giving. Instead of buying an individual present for every family member, Secret Santa means just one gift per person. And without having to think of everyone you can focus on buying one thoughtful present.
Tell your family it’s Secret Santa this year and request each person purchase one gift at a pre-arranged price. Everyone will have fun opening their gift on Christmas Day and you don’t have to worry about wracking your brain for that awkward niece or grumpy father-in-law. The Elfster gift exchange website is one great online tool for a modern Secret Santa.
Thanks to all the Christmas hype kids often have high expectations of what will be waiting for them under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s easy for parents to feel pressure to buy bigger and better. But think about what makes your kids happy. Often, it’s having time with you to play a game and have a laugh.
This simple, fun play doesn’t cost much. For the young ones, it’s easy to whip us some homemade playdough or slime. And if you’ve got the time it’s easy to get creative and make a personalized memory game using photos of family members or favorite toys. If you’re handy on the tools or sewing needles, make a bespoke wooden toy or soft teddy.
If you’re happy to spend a little, a box of crafty items or stationery can provide hours of entertainment later in the holidays when everyone needs it most. For the bigger gifts, a manageable personal loan can help provide the presents – as long as this cash loan is carefully assessed and determined that it is manageable in the months ahead.
How do you stay successful with gift-giving on a budget?
Understanding how to keep Christmas budgeting under control is one of the best ways to ensure financial success for the coming year.
Communication is key. Let your family know you plan to focus on thoughtful gifts instead of expensive gifts this year. Have a chat with the kids before the big day to manage expectations and explain why you would like to do meaningful gift-giving.
If there’s one thing you don’t want when starting a brand new year it’s a nagging financial hangover from overspending on gifts. Keep a cool head this Christmas and your bank balance will thank you for it.
This is not legal advice.
Ash is a professional content writer with extensive experience in business development in the financial services. Ash has founded businesses from the age of 19, including franchising ventures, and working alongside some of the largest retailers in the world.