If you’re like many people, you love to give holiday gifts, but dread the extra expense. Over-spending on Christmas presents dims the joy of holiday gift-giving. The worst offenders are parents (and grandparents). Come January, jolly Mommy and Daddy Santa turn into Mama Grinch and Papa Scrooge as the holiday bills roll in. Debt-ridden is not an ingredient in a Happy New Year. Here are budget Christmas presents for children, money-saving Christmas shopping tips and holiday gifts shopping strategies for frugal parents.
Set a reasonable per-child Christmas budget and do not deviate from it. Start shopping early (buy all year to hit sales and save). But once you’ve reached the budget, stop. You can’t give equal number of presents per child. So don’t even try. You don’t want to get children in the habit of comparing presents and worrying about “fairness.” Teach them to be glad for what each one gets and share.
Go minimalist on stocking stuffers. Ever since stores discovered the magic words “stocking stuffers,” they’ve been using them to prod parents into over-spending. What stores call “cheap stocking stuffers” and what frugal parents call cheap are two very different things. Don’t fill kids’ stockings with expensive stocking stuffers. That only breeds greedy, selfish, entitled children. Keep them simple. Don’t spend more than a buck per item. Buy stocking stuffers in bulk for multiple kids close in age. Give each child pretty much the same stocking stuffers in different colors. This saves on costs and fights.
Use gift accessories as budget Christmas stocking stuffers. Is your child getting a digital product like an iPod, camera or cellphone for Christmas? Put chargers, cases, travel charger, headphones, music gift cards and batteries in the stocking. If your child is getting an artist kit for Christmas, put the easel under the tree and use art supplies as stocking stuffers.
Explore non-traditional stores for budget holiday gifts. Menards has nice, inexpensive toys and games for Christmas presents. Menards Black Friday sale is worth getting out of bed for. Bed Bath and Beyond has budget prices on kids’ toys (don’t forget the coupons). Snag nifty Christmas presents like a rock polisher at Harbor Freight. Remember your coupons there too! Go Christmas shopping in the Barnes & Noble clearance aisle. Check local non-chain vendors.
Buy secondhand Christmas presents. You can do all your Christmas shopping at rummage sales, garage sales, at eBay or at thrift stores. When you’re secondhand stores or garage sales, keep your eyes open for Christmas presents and squirrel them away. Don’t buy junk, though. Make sure toys are in good working order and that sets and games are complete, clean and new-looking.
Give practical holiday gifts with a fun flair. Do you have child who loves to play doctor? Don’t get a toy doctor kit–make a homemade real one. Buy a clearance-priced backpack and cram it with on-sale first aid supplies, bandages, gauze and first aid manual. Let her practice doctoring her dolls, pets and siblings (teach her safety, of course). Give Christmas presents that extend hobbies: sporting goods, exercise equipment, cooking supplies and musical instruments.
Give Christmas gifts that give back. Holiday gift-giving should be educational not just frivolous. Give craft supplies, crafts kits, books, hands-on activity sets and tool kits as holiday gifts. Start early giving tools, equipment and supplies for car and home maintenance, cooking, crafts, sewing, jewelry-making, needlework for Christmas. By age 18, they’ll have a nice collection with which to pursue hobbies and trades.
For all gifts, used recycled wrapping paper. Skip the ribbon and make your own gift tags. Don’t spend on throw-away trimmings. And keep within your per-child budget. These strategies will ensure not only a Merry Christmas, but also a happier new year!