How to solve the Christmas gift dilemma

christmas shopping list

christmas shopping listThere’s the postman, the teacher and the babysitter to buy for – and that’s even before you’ve started on family and friends. The Christmas gift list can be long and expensive, so how do you decide on who to give to and how much to spend?

Write a list

First things first: write a list of everyone who you would like to buy a present for. Divide the list into different categories, such as:

  • Immediate family
  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Work colleagues
  • Kids’ friends
  • Teachers
  • Services i.e. babysitter, milkman etc.

Before you start thinking about gifts to buy consider the total budget for presents. Be realistic – you may be tempted to splash out, but will this put your finances in jeopardy?

Now set out how you are going to divide your budget. You’ll most likely want to spend the majority on close family and friends – but how much does that leave you? If getting your childminder a DVD means you can’t treat your mum, then it puts into perspective how important people are in your life.

Keeping up with the Jones’s

Your neighbours have already told you they are giving the newspaper boy £5, and £10 to both the swimming coach and the playgroup leader. But can you really afford to spend £25?

There’s no point getting into debt simply to make a false point to friends and neighbours. Once again think about how spending this money could impact on you in the future. This doesn’t mean you can’t give gifts – just that you won’t spend too much.

Everyone knows that times are hard – and a thought goes further than cash.

Sticking to shop-bought gifts

Compare supermarket prices to find the latest deals – are there any BOGOF or special offers you can use? Perhaps they have boxes of chocolates which are half price? If so, make the most of these offers and use them as gifts.

Likewise, if you are buying presents for different people at the same place – such as school or scouts, buy one present (i.e. a tin of biscuits) for the whole group rather than individual presents.

Visit budget shops – there are plenty of pound shops which are crammed full of branded gifts. No-one will know you only spent £1!

Going DIY

Spend less and make homemade goodies. Use old jam jars and fill them with sweets – a couple of bags of dolly mixture will go far and you can finish them off with some pretty festive ribbon.

Get the kids to make biscuits and decorate boxes to put them in – homemade is trendy, shows you’ve put some time in, and you’ll look like some kind of supermum.

Will a card do?

Be honest with yourself about why you are doing this. Ultimately it’s a token of your appreciation and a goodwill gesture. A card made by the kids is ample for this purpose, and a personalised “thank you” is really all that’s needed.