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6 More Ways to Cut Holiday Spending

Yesterday we discussed 8 ways people justify excessive holiday spending [1], and I gave suggestions on how to reduce that spending.

I’m trying hard to incorporate all 8 of those tips into my own gift-giving mindset this year.

In addition, I’m falling back on some of my favorite frugal gift-giving strategies from years past.

In addition to saving you money, these just might help make the last stressful weeks of December just a little bit calmer.

Here are some more ways to save money during the holidays.

6 Gift Giving Tips to Save Money

  1. Buy in bulk: My favorite tip is to buy a set of things like scented candles [2] and break them up for inexpensive hostess gifts. You can also buy cases of wine for a 10-15% discount at most liquor stores and even some grocery stores. If you identify one gift for all your gift recipients in a certain category, you can cut down on time and open the possibility of bulk discounts. Many online vendors do promotions where buying multiples saves you a certain percent, maybe even helping you get one free after buying a certain number. Do your research before making purchases that involve multiples of one item – one vendor might have a lower sticker price but another may offer better bulk incentives, helping bring the unit price lower.
  2. Give gifts to groups: A favorite all-ages board game [3] such as Scrabble [4] or Monopoly [5] is a wonderful gift for a young family. A boxed set of books is a good gift for siblings and a nice bottle of wine is a good gift for a couple. You can also give DVDs or video games to children/teenagers and things like move tickets or restaurant gift certificates [6] to adults.
  3. Give gifts from groups: One of the biggest reasons for overspending at holiday time is finding that the gift you really want to give costs just a little more than you can afford. Instead of stretching your budget, or worse, turning to credit cards, ask if someone else might want to split the cost of the gift with you. My mom’s sisters often split the costs of “big” gifts for their nieces and nephews and I know lots of siblings who split gifts for their parents. It helps them be sure that they are giving a gift the recipient will really love without footing the bill alone.
  4. Focus charitable giving: If you find yourself giving even $10 to every charity that comes knocking this time of year, you might end up giving significantly more than planned. If you don’t already, consider setting a charity budget [7] at the beginning of every year. In December, check in on past donations to see how much you have left to donate during the holidays. If you don’t have a charity budget, you can still get in on this tip by taking a close look at your donations so far this year and comparing that to the amount you would ideally like to give annually. Choose your favorite charities by considering things that you have a personal connection to, that you or your children are involved in, or that your church or close friends/family members care about. Split your ideal donation amongst the charities that matter most to you (say 3-4, max). If anyone else asks for a donation in person or via phone/email, you can feel ok about saying that you have completed your charitable giving for the year.
  5. Wrap strategically: As we all know, gift wrapping has become a mini-industry unto itself! The perfect wrapping can add $5 or more to the cost of a gift – which can be a lot, especially if your gift is only $10 [8] or $20 [9] to begin with! I wrote how to save money on gift wrap [10] last year and I intend to employ those tips again this year.
  6. Reclassify shared experiences as gifts: Krystal described how she and her sister agreed to buy spa gift certificates [11] and spend a day relaxing as their Christmas gift to each other. If you know you like to do a certain activity with a family member, friend or significant other, consider doing that as a way to celebrate Christmas without exchanging gifts. You can agree that you’d rather spoil each other and yourselves by splurging on a special treat, rather than gifting things that might go unused and still spending money on that activity later. In my family we’ve sometimes agreed to cut back or eliminate gifts if we have an upcoming family trip, so that we all have a little more money for vacation spending. You might feel cheap by being the one to suggest something like this, but you might find that people on the other side are all for it – often because they’re relieved to save the money as well!

How do you cut down on your holiday spending?