Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck during holiday shopping. We make a list, check it twice, and venture into the abyss of early bird sales and Christmas music.
Somewhere along the way, our best laid plans — and budgets — get lost in prepackaged gifts, deals “too good” to pass up and festive coffee drinks not worth the 30-minute line it took to get them.
We’ve all been there. Keep in mind there are better ways to finish your holiday shopping under budget than clipping coupons and comparing prices in crowded stores.
Save your hard-earned money and spend more time with the people you love this season. Here are seven gift ideas and ways to trim your budget when holiday shopping.
1. Bake or Gift Ingredients in a Jar
As someone with a massive sweet tooth, edible gifts are a win for me.
Homemade cookies are a holiday staple, but there are a ton of other seasonal sweets that will wow your friends. Pumpkin Pie Balls are delicious and fun to make. And the ingredients to Fireball Apple Fritters would look great in a Mason jar with a mini bottle of Fireball attached.
Baked goods are also a thoughtful treat for friends with food allergies. People with a gluten intolerance can feel left out at the dessert table during holiday parties — a goodie made just for them is a welcomed gift.
2. Beauty Counter Makeover
Most mall beauty counters do a free makeover with purchase. For instance, MAC does a free session with a $30 purchase and Clinique offers one with the purchase of any three products.
If you’re already buying makeup from one of these places, see if your brand of choice will give you a gift certificate for the makeover. Your makeup-loving friend will like learning new brush techniques and not having to worry if she fully blended in her foundation.
3. Regift an Item
To some, “regift” is a dirty six-letter word. But if done well, regifting can save you time, money and space in your closet.
I don’t limit regifting to items you received specifically as gifts — it can apply to anything in your house you don’t use that’s a little too nice to just haul off to the thrift store.
What’s something in mint or near-mint condition that someone in your life would like or benefit from having? If there’s no one who comes to mind, then it’s OK to toss it in the thrift store pile.
Not everything in your house is worth regifting, so be selective. And never regift in the same circle of friends.
4. Framed Printables
As far as free stuff on the internet goes, wall art printables are my favorite. The high-quality prints that artists and bloggers give away is amazing.
If you’re short on time and cash, this is the perfect gift for you to make a loved one. You can spray paint an old frame, and print your favorite picture or quote. Put it together, wrap it up and you’re done.
Pinterest has an enormous selection of free printables to choose from.
5. Thrift Store Gifts
Don’t think just because you’re at a thrift store that you’re compromising quality. Secondhand finds can be some of the coolest gifts. But you also run the risk of wasting time trudging through junk and leaving empty-handed.
Here are a few quick tips to save time and money:
- Shop at thrift stores in affluent areas. You’ll get nice stuff, and the stores won’t be as picked over.
- Shop near the beginning of the week to snag the best donations from the weekend.
- Most thrift stores offer extra savings on certain days of the week — like the first Saturday of the month.
The takeaway? Look up the thrift store ahead of time, even ask an employee which day is the best to shop and you’ll end up saving even more.
6. Drop Shipping Costs
Amazon has the lowest prices on most things on and off the internet. One of the best ways to save money on Amazon is Amazon Prime. But spending $99 on a service you’ll only use for a few months kind of negates the savings.
If you haven’t tried Prime, you’ll notice you can try it free for 30 days. What most people don’t know is you can actually get two months for free.
After you sign up for your free 30-day trial, head to your account details to cancel Prime before the trial ends. Amazon will ask if you want to try Prime for another 30 days for free. All you have to do is click “yes” and remember to cancel again before those 30 days are up.
Cheers to free two-day shipping all season long!
7. Christmas Cards
Don’t underestimate the value of a good Christmas card.
A simple card with a heartfelt letter is the most meaningful gift on this list. Include fun memories from the year, inside jokes or a group picture — it’s an inexpensive gift that creates a stronger relationship with the people you love. Isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Jen Smith is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites with more than 15 million monthly readers. In 2017, the Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder the 25th fastest-growing private company and the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the United States.
Photo credit to Ryan.