Jun 8, 2010

Christmas (Janssen)

I am not a very good gift giver. It is agonizingly difficult for me to come up with good gifts for people. You can imagine that Christmas can be somewhat stressful for me. . .

In order to combat this and in order to keep from spending a fortune when December rolls around, I begin a list in Google Docs (how did anyone LIVE before Google Docs? I have no idea) of all the people I will be buying Christmas gifts for.

Then, as I think of brilliant gift ideas or see something that might make a good gift, I list them under the person (or family's name).

With that list in place, I'm now ready to not spend a fortune because I can take advantage of sales or coupons for six months beforehand. If I discover the perfect book for my father-in-law, I can wait until Borders or Barnes & Noble sends me a great coupon. I can pay for the very cheapest shipping because I'm not in a hurry.

It's a delightful system that made last year a far better Christmas, both for my own peace of mind and for my wallet.

What do you do to keep Christmas gift costs manageable?

11 comments:

Katie Rich said...

Around Christmas I end up feeling almost as much guilt as I do joy regarding getting gifts for some but not all family members, but when I have 13 siblings (including step siblings), Joey has 5 siblings, and between the two of us three sets of parents, it is simply not possible. Last year we decided that we were getting gifts for our parents and one sibling on each side of the family. We let that be known to those who would care (I would not be seeing all 13, only 6 at Christmas last year). It helped relieve a lot of stress deciding that we simply could not buy gifts for everyone that we love, but it saved enough money and stress that we could find better gifts for those we were buying for and enjoy our time more all around

Bart said...

I just have my wife do Christmas shopping. She's much better at it, and really loves it.

Gretchen said...

I shop for stocking stuffers year round too. I always hate when December rolls around and I feel so limited in what I can get. But instead I watch dollar spots and such all year long for things that seem perfect for my family but that we don't need urgently. I get them and put them all in a box in my closet. I love being able to, for example, give sunglasses even though it's December. Or pool toys. You can't find those in the store in December, but I don't want to spoil my kids by just getting them that stuff "for no reason" in the summer.

Carly Jane said...

Gift giving in general can stress me out, especially because we just simply cannot afford buying a lot... so I make 95% of what we give. Last year I started planning in September and sewing in October... making over 25 gifts. One of my tricks is I do sets of gifts (all the brothers-in-law get ___, all my sisters get ___ etc). The production line goes smoother and I can check people off the list quicker. It was really nice to feel like I had more time. In the end, I realized I still needed to start sooner.

This year I started a list in February. In March I stumbled across an idea that I am going to do for 15-20 of the people on my list. I already have the supplies and have started making them. Since I am due with baby #2 at the beginning of December, my goal is to make the bulk of my gifts by September, and all of them before the baby comes. Fingers crossed it works!

What's hard for me starting so early is that I want to give what I'm making for birthdays along the way. It wears me out to be thinking of birthday and Christmas gifts simultaneously. I might just have to give up during these uber-poor years and only do one or the other. Or make one or the other really small. And then not feel guilty when people give us more expensive gifts. It's out of my control.

Saskia said...

This year we had an interesting challenge. My parents haven't been together for a long time, and they're usually separated by an ocean. That means that we kids either spend Christmas with mom or dad, not both (and usually not with all siblings). This year, they were both in the same country, so we did mom on Christmas Eve and First Christmas Day, and dad on Second Christmas Day (the Dutch like giving everyone an extra day off. I don't know why). But that meant we had to have two presents for each sibling - one to open at mom's, the other at dad's house. So I shopped around for a long time before I could find two meaningful gifts for each sister that wouldn't break the bank..

next year, I think I'll just leave the country. That will really cut down on Christmas expenses.

Jenae said...

Similar to your plan, I Christmas shop all year long. Seth just about flipped his lip when the first year we were married I bought a Christmas gift in February. However, he was loving me the first week of December when all he had left was me! When I'm around and I see something great on sale that so-and-so would just LOVE I buy it, stick it in a tubby in the closet, and write down on a note card that's always in my wallet "got so-and-so book". It's awesome to be done with shopping in October.

jj

Lisa said...

I have a really hard time buying gifts too early. What if I buy the perfect book for someone only to have them buy it for themselves in the following months? I'm trying to make more and more of our gifts and this year am determined to start earlier. Just yesterday I started a list of the people I know will be on the list, leaving a few blanks for the ones we draw names for. (M's family draws names at Thanksgiving, we'll get 5 names out of the pool of 23, but it could be all adults or all kids or all men or whatever. Hard to plan for that one.)

Janet said...

I heard a great idea the other day for families with older children. For some reason as your kids get older the wants get longer and more expensive. One family decided that their kids would receive: "something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read." That's it--4 gifts. Their kids have learned to make their christmas lists around this principle. I think it's a great idea and helps put Christmas into perspective.

With my own siblings and their families everyone has had their own financial difficulties of one kind or another. At times we've exchanged books--they could be old, new, used, handmade, etc. And could be anything from children's stories to a compilation of favorite recipes. These gifts were enjoyed and took a lot of pressure off for the gift giver.

Bean said...

I have a specific savings just for Christmas and each pay check we put a certain amount of money into. We let it build up every 11 months so then at the end of November, we already have the money saved. We only use THAT money so if the money is gone, we are done with gifts! It works really well!

Nathan Pralle said...

There's not much I like about Christmas gifts. I hate buying them early. I hate buying them at all because I can rarely find something that's truly a gift and not just something on a list that someone wanted. I hate asking for them because I hate the idea of people spending money on me. I hate having to make up lists. I hate drawing names and then pretending I give a crap.

Basically, I hate the whole process. Can we eliminate it entirely and stick with eating good food?

The only thing I know I will be doing from now on is putting some money away each month so I don't have to spend $OMG in one month at the end of the year. Oh, I hate that, too. :P~

Melanie said...

Because gifts aren't really one of my love languages, I'm as ambivalent about giving them as I am about receiving them.

I try to give gifts that mean something. Most of the time that means making gifts. For the past two years I've transcribed family histories recorded on audio and given bound copies to my parents and siblings. I've made sets of greeting cards and given boxes of goodies and crocheted scarves. I'm not opposed to buying a gift if it's something that someone really wants, but I hate to go out and spend money on something if I'm not absolutely certain that the person absolutely wants it.