Christmas Shopping on a Shoestring

Shopping for Christmas in the January sales can be a great way to save money, but getting organised twelve months in advance is a big ask! For those of you who aren’t quite there yet, here are a few tips to get you through the silly season without breaking the bank.

For Children

There is no need to go overboard people! As a simple guideline: Get them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. It’s probably a good idea to agree on an amount to spend with your spouse before you start, otherwise you’ll end up in the poo with your husband like a certain close friend of Christmas Treesy Peasy – you know who you are! If the kids ask for something really expensive, consider giving them a picture of it on Christmas Day and then taking them to the Boxing Day sales to buy it half price.

For older kids who no longer believe in Father Christmas – but don’t quite want to let the tradition go – give each sibling $20 (or less) to spend on making the best Christmas stocking they can for their brother or sister. Challenge them to make the most of their money, and to make their stocking creative.

One cost that can really add up is buying gifts for teachers, caregivers, and other loved ones, from your children. A special, yet beautiful gift, can be found by taking the kids to the Christmas shop (Kirkcaldie and Stains for Wellingtonians) and letting the kids choose a decoration to gift to each person. These are usually $5 – $15. It’s fun for the kids and gets them to think about which decoration each person would love. Another idea is to buy some cheap canvases and let the kids create their own artworks to gift.

For Adults

Some people say Christmas is for kids. We believe it’s for adults as well, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy gifts for all of your family, friends, colleagues, clients, and your mother in law’s dog (though Fran may disagree on that last one!). Most people will be okay, or even be relieved, if you suggest some sort of system to reduce the number of gifts you need to buy. Here’s a few ideas:

  1. Agree to only buy gifts for each other’s kids
  2. Set up a Secret Santa within your circle of friends and have pre-Christmas drinks to dish out the presents
  3. Draw up a family matrix which dictates who buys for which family member. Change it up each year and don’t keep it a secret so you can actually ask the person what they want.

Dilbert Christmas Cartoon

If you really want to get something for all those special people in your life, here are some suggestions for keeping the amount you spend per person to a reasonable level.

  1. At the beginning of the year, decide an affordable amount you want to spend on gifts at Christmas and put a bit away every pay day. You could form a Christmas club with your friends for extra saving motivation.
  2. Make a list before you go shopping to avoid wandering aimlessly around the shops. Decide how much you are going to spend on each person before you go, and be disciplined about it!
  3. Really sit down and think about what the person you are buying for would like so it doesn’t end up feeling like wasted money.
  4. Make your own gifts. Baking is always nice, but if you have other creative talents you could use to create gifts, go for it! Some simple ideas are: Reindeer noses
  • A photo or picture in a frame. A plain black, brown or white frame from the $2 Store looks more expensive than it is.
  • Fill a recycled kitchen jar with lollies. Use an old Christmas ribbon to decorate and make a tag from an old Christmas Card. Yum!
  • Pick flowers from your garden, and tie them up with a red or green ribbon. Give them to your friend when visiting around Christmas.
  • Make your own reindeer noses!

Overall, put love into your gifts. Some of the best gifts we’ve ever received have been simple yet meaningful. Julia received a home-made apron from a friend who always used to ask Julia to do sewing for her before learning to sew herself. Fran received a pair of earrings in a Coco-Pops box from her husband because she always ate Coco-Pops at his house when they were dating. These are the gifts we remember the most; not because of what they are but because of what they represent.

We hope you enjoy your Christmas shopping this year. Look out for future blogs where we show you how to make some delicious Christmas treats.