If you’re anything like me, all holidays that “require” gifts cause a ton of anxiety. Maybe you have no idea what to get the person. Maybe you don’t know how much money you should be spending. Maybe you’re worried your gift won’t be thoughtful enough. And all while you’re trying to stay on a budget! As I’ve written about many times, I absolutely hate the idea of required gifts. Gifts are supposed to be a token of appreciation, symbol of love, or just a way of letting someone know you were thinking about him. They shouldn’t be something you give someone just because you feel like you’re supposed to.
But I digress. Let’s just assume that you’re getting a gift for someone, whatever the occasion may be. I can’t tell you what to get, since I don’t know what the recipient likes, but I can give you some guidelines to follow that will help you save a few bucks and alleviate the guilt you may feel about giving “tacky” gifts.
How Much You Spend Doesn’t Matter
Guess what? How much you spend doesn’t matter. This isn’t new advice, but it’s time you start following it. Don’t ask yourself how much you should be spending on the gift. You’re giving the person a gift, for Pete’s sake, they should be grateful for whatever you give them! Anyone who is ungrateful for a gift you gave them because it didn’t cost enough money is someone who you should just stop giving gifts to. If you feel like you have to spend a lot of money on a gift for this person because she always spends a lot of money on your gifts, explain to her that you’re working on a tight budget and can’t afford to give gifts of that monetary level. You may ask her to refrain from giving you expensive gifts as well because it makes you feel uncomfortable to receive costly gifts when you don’t feel you can adequately return the favor.
Don’t Get Something That Won’t Be Used
I have this problem all the time: I have no idea what to get someone, but I worry that if I give them a gift card or treat them to dinner, it’s not personal enough, so I struggle to find a tangible gift to give them instead. What usually winds up happening is I pick out a gift that ends up sitting in the person’s closet because it wasn’t something they wanted or had any need for. My money was completely wasted. A gift card may seem impersonal, and treating someone to dinner may seem like a cop-out gift because you couldn’t think of anything else, but at least you know your money is going toward something that will actually be used. I would rather spend a little more money on a gift that I know will be appreciated than a cheapo doohickey that will collect dust.
Re-Gifting Is A Perfectly Acceptable Option
If someone gave you a Christmas gift that you know you’ll never use, why not give it to one of your friends when her Birthday rolls around? It’s generally considered a little tacky to re-gift items, but it’s financially friendly and eco-friendly as well. Instead of spending extra money, you’re finding a use for something you already have, and instead of throwing away the gift because you’ll never use it, you’re finding a new home for it. But do make sure you’ve taken off any tags or wrapping paper that indicate who the original recipient was. And for the love of God, remember who gave you the gift so you don’t re-gift it to the person you gave it to you!
Save Wrapping Paper, Gift Bags, and Ribbon
Even if you think re-gifting is too tacky for your tastes, surely there’s nothing tacky about reusing gift bags or wrapping paper, and it will save you a couple bucks. Nobody will notice or care if the bag holding their gift was previously used to hold another gift. Nobody.
There is Nothing Wrong With Using Coupons to Buy A Gift
For our Secret Santa gift exchange, we have a loose maximum amount to spend on gifts – around $25. I saw something I wanted to get for my person, but it was over the limit by about $10. So I signed into Swagbucks and claimed a couple Amazon.com coupons to apply to my gift. The recipient doesn’t need to know you used a coupon, and you’re able to get the gift you really want without going over budget. (The only caveat is that if you’re worried the recipient will feel he needs to reciprocate the gift with an equally expensive gift, you should tell him you got the gift on sale.) You can use coupons even on gifts that fit within your budget – why pass up an opportunity to spend less money? That’s just silly. I’m not sure why we have this idea that it’s tacky to use coupons or gift cards, or buy sale items for gifts, but if it bothers you, just keep it as your little secret.
The sponsor of this giveaway, Coupons at Checkout, is a company that integrates coupon code sites with merchant sites, allowing you to view available coupons for the items you’re purchasing during checkout. I’m not receiving any benefit from plugging them (and in full disclosure, I haven’t even used them yet since I haven’t purchased anything online since learning about them), but it’s an ingenious idea that makes it a whole lot simpler to search for and apply coupon codes to your online orders.
And now for the giveaway! Use the form below to enter for your chance to win $100!