Friday, December 18, 2009

Frugal Christmas shopping: Less is more

This is the second part of my series on Frugal Christmas Shopping.

Last time I focused on how to get good deals on things you knew you needed to buy. Today I'm going to get a bit more philosophical and talk a little bit about what you really need to buy. There's a tendency at the holidays to let things get a little out of control, and there's always a point of diminishing returns when it comes to joy and appreciation. There are, for example, some small children in my family who rip open every one of their gifts in about five minutes without looking at any of them, and then are immediately bored and start asking for more gifts to open. This could be seen as very anti-materialistic of them (who cares about possessions?? I just want to play!), but I think it's really more of a sign of people losing sight of what's important. This can happen to adults just as easily, maybe even moreso as we rush around trying to get our holiday preparation and shopping done. So, as with many things, the solution may be simplify, simplify, simplify. But how, you ask?

10. Sit down your spouse or significant other, and any close friends - particularly those who have a tendency to escalate gift giving - and agree ahead of time on a set number or value of gifts which will not be exceeded. Some people who care about you may be reluctant at first, but convince them that it will make you happier to get less, not more.

11. If you have a large family, or a large group of friends, who typically all give each other gifts, consider a gift exchange instead. You can draw names for a Secret Santa, or each bring a gift to a party and play a gift swap game (there are many variations). Often these types of exchanges are more enjoyable than simply opening presents because, as with most things, it's the experience we remember not the thing.

12. Start a new tradition. Instead of exchanging gifts with your friends, consider getting together for a cookie exchange or to go caroling. Your holiday spirit will get a bigger lift and you won't have to stress about shopping.

13. Just say no. Sometimes, it can seem like you're being hit up in all directions, from office gift exchanges to extra family commitments to events for your kids. If something is going to bring you and your family more stress than joy, don't participate. You are honestly better off not being in the office Secret Santa than being the grumpy Scrooge in it.

14. Give no clutter gifts. Some of the best gifts I ever got were charitable donations. You might also consider memberships to museums and zoos, or tickets to events. When I was little, I had a cousin who used to give us tickets to various shows and sporting events. I can honestly tell you that I don't remember a single other gift I got those years, but I remember going to Disney on Ice, or seeing a basketball game with my dad.

15. Reconsider teacher gifts. In my years as a teacher, I got many lovely gifts. I truly appreciated the spirit behind all of them. What meant the most, though, was a personal note written from a parent or high school student. I've had to throw out candles and mugs over the years, but I still have every single letter.

16. Slow down. Instead of everyone opening gifts at once, spread the process out so that it takes the whole day (or even start at night on Christmas Eve with one teaser gift!). Somehow
with gifts, like with food, when you take your time less seems like more.

Check out more Frugal Ideas at Life as Mom


BarbaraLee said...

The whole meaning of Christmas as gone out the window. Being that we make our gifts we actaul think about that person and what they would like.
It opens your eyes of who they are.

Jes said...

We have actually asked everyone to only focus on the kids and to not go overboard. We would rather the focus be on sharing time with family and friends and making memories while making homemade goodies!

Great advice!

Gustavo said...

Shopping online and discount shopping
doesn't have to be expensive. It feels great when you make your family and children happy in holidays.

Best Deals said...

I finally got the holiday house down today just in time to enjoy it before it has to go right back up. I can't wait until the kids wake up from their naps so they can enjoy it too!